Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
May 2, 2021

The Park Hotel, Peebles, Restaurant Review

Cat Thomson is back out after post lockdown easing to review The Park Hotel, Peebles and as it has been a bit of a while it's a bit of a Blur.

Like a whippet straight out of the starting traps I'm excited to be reviewing a restaurant in person, I haven't felt quite so giddy since about 1994.

Back then, I used to do reckless things like go out to a crowded pub without a mask, followed by an uncoordinated shamble around a jam-packed dance floor, possibly shouting incoherent lyrics with enthusiastic gusto.

As it is the first day of lockdown lifting I cautiously headed out into the big bad world for a spot of lunch.

Peebles for pleasure

I had every intention of eating plein air, and booked The Park Hotel in Peebles based entirely on the pictures the venue had posted of their newly expanded well-spaced beer garden.

The well-spaced beer garden caught my eye, online

That and the fact that by my reckoning, today's location wouldn't be too busy.

The reason is that it sits at the quieter end of the high street just set back from the road.

So I'm delighted to be proved right as Peebles high street looks positively cosmopolitan with hastily set up seating areas and the good burghers all out in force supporting local businesses.

Even though it is the first day of freedom, our lunch venue was quiet so they could accommodate our change of heart about shivering outside in the Scottish summer.

Social whirl

As the saying goes, 'age before beauty', I'm fortunate enough to have had my first vaccination.

That honestly, has been the highlight of my social life, I went to the Gytes leisure centre in Peebles at the appointed time, just around the corner from here.

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I simply had to answer a few questions, roll up a sleeve, wince slightly and the job was done.

Today I've enlisted daughter number one to accompany me, mainly because I really shouldn't be let out alone at my age.

We stepped inside, nodded appreciatively at the automatic door of The Park Hotel.

The staff all seem genuinely delighted to be welcoming people back inside.

The Bannatyne bar in the Park Hotel in Peebles

We had the pick of seats, all tastefully covered in tweed of course, but decided to hide ourselves away in the Bannatyne bar.

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What's on the menu?

After the all important contact details were taken we indulged ourselves with a spot of menu perusing.

Somehow post lockdown, it is an activity which had never felt quite so exciting.

Imagine getting excited reading a list, well I was.

I was also tempted by pretty much everything.

There was ham hock scotch egg, Scottish scallops, Borders lamb flank and spiced cauliflower fritters but my eye was smitten by the wild mushroom tart £ 6.75.

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I was delighted to see good Borders ingredients being showcased front and centre of several dishes.

But I opted for a crisp handmade pastry shell, filled inside with roast onion puree and a casual scattering of mushrooms, sauteed to perfection.

Hidden under a haystack of shaved Parmesan slivers and micro herbs galore was a perfect poached egg.

How could I have forgotten about microherbs!

There was I getting all emotional and misty eyed about leaves when eldest shrieked, 'mum you've basically got a tree in your hair!'

A tiny sprig had attached itself to my barnet, and, note to self, I will get round to taming my unruly tresses soon.

I'm a bit out of practice with this eating out malarky, I'll need to have another go.

Ladies who lunch

My lunch companion had selected the tomato and lentil soup of the day £5.50 mainly, I believe, because that was the first thing the waiter told us about.

It arrived in a small bowl on an enormous plate with butter and a slice of bread. It was declared to be 'smashing'.

For main course, daughter went for the beer and malt chicken supreme £16 which was served with a baton of celeriac, poached leeks, chicken and lemon thyme jus, plus a pot of triple cooked chips for good measure £4.

Apart from the leeks being a bit tricky to slice she gave the dish ten out of ten.

The beer and malt chicken main course impressed

I opted for slow cooked celeriac with slow roasted garlic and herbs served with sauteed forest mushrooms, wilted swiss chard truffle infused polenta which most certainly impressed for both looks and taste.

For a randomly selected, inaugural post lockdown outing this place was dishing up with the goods.

The attentive staff,wondered if perhaps we would care to see the dessert menu.

Any one for pud? Passion fruit bavarois

Are you kidding, we have been waiting months for the chance of a posh pud.

And what a pair of beauties they were. A vegan Vanilla pod panna cotta made from soy, served with a sliver of wafer thin rhubarb crisp contrasting in texture with poached rhubarb.

It arrived with an elegant quenelle of camomile and ginger sorbet on the side £6.50.

Whilst I was tempted by the passion fruit bavarois £6.50 top layer of bright passion fruit jelly on a section of mousse,on top of a dainty poppy seed sponge with sesame seed brittle and a scoop of fragrant coconut sorbet.

What a way to end a meal, we paid before we left following the one way system of course.

The Park hotel had put a spring in our steps and it reminded me of a song from my youthful days.

It goes a bit like this, 'All the people, so many people, And they all go hand in hand, Hand in hand through their Parklife.'

I hadn't even had a drink.

The Park Hotel
2 Innerleithen Rd,
EH45 8BA

Tel: 01764 651550

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Catriona is a freelance writer based in the Scottish Borders, and a nominee for Food and Drink writer at this year's Scottish Press Awards.
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