Scotsman Review
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  • 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. 
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April 11, 2021

The Tontine, Peebles, Restaurant Review (At Home)

Do you sometimes aimlessly open the fridge door, stare blankly at the odd assortment of foodstuffs found within before quickly closing it again?

It is not that there isn't anything to eat inside, it's just that I am lacking the culinary inspiration to rustle up something tasty.

The fella and I have been a bit lazy in the kitchen and we are in need of a pick-me-up for the palate to get us both back cooking.

So with a bit of investigation into which local food establishments are offering what, and I'm straight on the blower to The Tontine in Peebles.

Around the world

During lockdown, I have been following their meal offerings as they whisk their customers off on a globe-trotting food adventure.

They take inspiration from a different country or region with a new menu featured each week.

So far the good people of Peebles have been transported to the exotic climes of the South Americas, South East Asia, the Caribbean, Italy as well as the good old USA, all without having to leave the comfort of the Borders.

They also do a regular Friday fish takeaway for £9.50 where you can choose either haddock or scampi and chips, fillet of cod, ginger and soy with jasmine rice or a monkfish korma with basmati rice.

You can add a starter for £5 and a bottle of wine for £7, which sounds good value to me.

As it was Easter they were offering some roast dinners to slam in the oven.

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Tea time at Tontine Peebles
Butternut Squash Wellington

The vegetarian option was butternut squash Wellington (£16), a lightly spiced roasted squash with leek, kale and walnuts wrapped in an all butter pastry served with a balsamic reduction.

And for meat eaters there was a choice of herb-crusted roast rump of lamb (£20): Borders lamb coated in parsley, oregano and thyme served with butternut squash purée and red wine jus.

Tea time at Tontine in Peebles

Or alternatively a pork belly porchetta (£17): rolled belly of pork infused with garlic, fennel, lemon and rosemary served with crisp crackling, apple sauce and pork jus.

All the main courses come served with Yorkshire puddings, rosemary roast potatoes, a portion of cauliflower cheese plus roasted root vegetables and buttered greens.

Then for dessert was treacle tart complete with lemon crème fraîche all included in the main price.

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Tea time at Tontine Peebles
Slam in the Lamb: Herb crusted Roast Rump

I can't decide which main course the fella would prefer, so I err on the side of caution and order him both.

That way I figure he wins a slap up dinner two nights in a row. I make an appointment to collect, 12:20pm Saturday, 'It's a date!" I nearly shout down the phone to the receptionist, I am that excited by someone else cooking.

The Borders town is bathed in sunshine and blue skies when I collect the food. Who needs a passport when you can saunter the streets of the Costa del Peebles, visa-free?

Little boxes

At home I unpack the luggage, a solid cardboard box which is filled with dozens of aluminium takeaway tubs plus minuscule plastic dishes of sauces.

Borders portions have not been scrimped upon. Handily you can keep your grub in the fridge for up to three days but with a depressingly empty fridge there is no danger of that happening in our household.

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The instructions explain simply what has to go in the preheated oven 180C or Gas Mark 4 when, to achieve the timed-to-perfection roast. Sharp intake of breath from me, "you can do this.”

The voice of Gordon Ramsay in my head, like he is there in my kitchen shouting at me,

“This lamb is so under cooked, it’s following Mary to school!”

“You added so much salt and pepper I can hear the dish singing ‘Push It.’"

“My gran could do better! And she’s dead!”


"Oui chef," I replied quickly.

The Wellington is the first in for 30 minutes, swiftly followed by the rump of lamb for 25 minutes exactly. Twenty minutes to go, the roast potatoes, roast roots and cauliflower cheese all head into the oven.

Five minutes later followed by the portion of greens reheated in 15 minutes and last but not least Yorkshire pud with only five minutes to go.

Plating up is a doddle. Slice, arrange, and pile it high.

Except I've left the sauces in the fridge which I've meant to have simmered in a pan.

No matter, his nibs didn't seem to notice and it means he gets bumper jus for his porcini for the next day's dinner.

So I guess I'm the idiot that manages to mess up the instructions, sorry Gordon.

The verdict:

The fella was just sorry when he finished, if there had been a pattern on the plate it would have been scraped off.

He praised the lean Borders lamb greatly. The next night he declares the pork equally delicious, so a score draw dinner from him.

The wean scoffed everyone's cauliflower cheese, she gave it a straight 10 out of 10 for flavour, her quote “that were tasty.”

In my eyes you can't go wrong with a plateful of roast vegetables and the sliced Wellington looked attractive when served up. More importantly it filled me up with culinary get up and go to get back cooking again.

The Tontine, Peebles

The Tontine Hotel
High Street
EH45 8AJ

Tel: 01721 720 892

READ MORE Coltman's Deli, Peebles, Restaurant Review (collection)

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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