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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February 5, 2021

Underdog, Peebles, Restaurant Review

Cat Thomson trots to Peebles for a spot of lunch for another of her around Scotland in 80 takeaways reviews, this time visiting a repurposed horsebox.

As a result of the current pandemic we are all getting used to lining up and waiting our turn, so much so that I'm thinking of publishing a manual on the do’s and don't of q-etiquette.

Here in the Borders the good people of Peebles were already aficionados of waiting patiently; they are well used to forming an orderly queue outside Forsyth's the butcher to acquire their meat.

Therefore I knew there must be something newsworthy going on when I spied a snake of pedestrians outside a black painted horsebox on the outskirts of town.

Initially I thought it must have been an impromptu pony club committee meeting or some such but having done a spot of detective work, I was delighted to discover that it is in fact a new food venture called the Underdog  trailer.

Peebles for pleasure

It is run by Stuart Clink, ex-head chef of Urban Angel in Edinburgh, who has recently set out his stall in the back of a re-purposed equine wagon, selling high quality lunch grub to go.

Stuart and his wife Amanda also used to run a restaurant at Kailzie Gardens and in 2013 they won a coveted Michelin bib award, so rest assured absolutely anything they produce will be pukka.

What happens: a weekly menu is posted on social media and they let you know their intended location.

It is normally 12-3pm Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and they also post where their secret location is. For the country sports enthusiasts amongst us, it is sort of like a drag hunt, where no foxes are harmed.

All you need to do is rock up, suitably attired of course, to track them down, join the back of the queue and pay up.


The Underdog Trailer Peebles

When I initially spotted them the black box was situated at the end of Whitehaugh farm track opposite the aptly named Cavalry Park Business Centre, which is one of their usual haunts.

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On that occasion I didn't have enough time to stand in line but I made a plan to revisit the next day at opening time to avoid the rush.

It was a bit like a Next Boxing Day sales campaign, the plan was get there early with pointy elbows at the ready and charge the second that the serving hatch opened.

Late lunch

However you need to get up early to pull that kind of stunt on the Gutterbluids (or people from Peebles.) When I showed up the Peebles church bells had only just finished their doleful tolling at noon, but I was already number five in line.

A behatted and waxed jacket wearing lady with a small pooch on a lead led the charge. She proclaimed, 'such a treat' and 'I came here yesterday, but I had to come back.'

Then there were two Borders lasses who I recognised from my drive-by disappointment the previous day. A polite tete a tete with them confirmed that they had already decided underdog trailer would be a regular lockdown ritual.

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With all this unasked for praise, whetting my appetite further I could barely contain my excitement by the time my turn came.

The Lunch of soup and sandwiches Underdog Trailer Peebles

Grab a tasty lunch prepared by Stuart Clink on the hoof.

To experience the full range I went for a pot of carrot and parsnip soup dotted with lime yogurt and served with a chunk of focaccia bread (£3.50). Colourful, warming and what is not to love about soup on a cold day?

I was feeling for the kitchen because open air cooking is all very well in July but not so much fun in the depths of a Scottish winter.

It turns out that Stuart is up at 4am each morning baking the focaccia bread and it tastes delicious, the texture of a scouring pad (which is a good thing) and lip smackingly salty.

I then randomly chose a selection of dishes: smoky barbeque pulled pork strands with root slaw and tarragon aioli (£4.50) because it was the special of the day. Younger daughter chomped her way through it like lightning, or as fast as a hungry pony eating hay.

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Sweet success

My cardboard takeaway box of delights had dark earthy wholesome butter-spread rye bread slices, hidden beneath layers of beetroot, rocket salad and hearty lumps of stilton with pear and walnuts (£4.50).

The focaccia roll filled with roast tomato, mozzarella with basil pesto and a smattering of toasted pine nuts, (£4.50) was a winner; each mouthful more flavoursome than the last.

The fella was working but we brought him back a beef pastrami roll with pickled cabbage, gherkins and mustard mayo (£5). Sadly he didn't get the opportunity to taste it as his younger daughter polished it off for her dinner.

There was a choice of sweet treats but with only two slices left of the plum and frangipane tart I opted for a hearty slice of the extra lemony drizzle loaf (£2).

First impression on initial nibble is the icing is so tart you'd think someone had just jumped the queue, but that quick sharp shock dissipates with the lemon tinged sponge which one hundred per cent soothes the taste buds.

I also couldn't resist the carrot cake (£2.50) which arrived with soft white peaks of pistachio sprinkled on lime and cream cheese icing.

The Verdict: this horsebox cafe is 'neigh' too bad.


The Underdog Trailer Peebles cakes

The Underdog Trailer Peebles cakes


Underdog trailer (collection)
Snack van,
Tel: 0792824998 


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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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