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. 
  • 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.
March 15, 2020

The Fat Pheasant, Newton, Restaurant Review

Bridge over troubled waters: Catriona Thomson discovers the Fat Pheasant gastro pub, in Newton hits the spot.

A lot of choppy water has flowed under the Queensferry Crossing recently, both literally thanks to Storms Ciara and Dennis, and figuratively as it has been on the receiving end of more than its fair share of criticism.

Now things have calmed down, I thought that it might be a good time to visit this bridge over troubled waters to fully assess the situation.

Our journey was entirely free from queuing traffic, storms or falling ice so a quick photo opportunity to record this fact for prosperity was required.

Luckily the viewing point on the A904 overlooks three handsome bridges and provided us with the ideal vantage point.

Afterwards, we found ourselves to be slightly peckish, so hightailed it to the nearby village of Newton and The Fat Pheasant pub.

This place has only recently reopened as a gastropub, owned by a local entrepreneur Karina Bowlby, who simply couldn’t sit back and see her local closed.

Previously known as The Newton Arms, the new business has also got a new look.

Risotto with vine tomatoes and asparagus. Picture: Catriona Thomson

Bowlby runs nearby Stewarton Polo Club so don’t be surprised by the polo-themed artwork on the walls.

The ethos here is simple, a friendly country pub where fresh produce is served from Scotland’s natural larder.

Award-winning John Lawson Butchers provides the meat and Linlithgow’s Castle Game supplies the game, with dishes all cooked to order.

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It is a warm and welcoming place, painted a cheerful red, with a log burner inside to heat up chilly punters, and it’s definitely a venue where kids and dogs are welcomed.

Gordon Ramsay-trained chef Andrew Thomas Hughes is at the helm in the kitchen and he is tasked with providing first-class Scottish food.

He has worked at Maze in London, and Cromlix, and our stomachs started to rumble the minute we arrived, due to the delicious smells which emanated from the kitchen.


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Staff were attentive and efficient and struck exactly the right balance between being chatty and leaving you to get on with your lunch.

During the week the à la carte menu is offered, with a garden, sea and land-themed menu, featuring scallops, salmon and haddock along with chicken, ham and beef mains plus vegetarian options.

There is also a grilled section which offers pheasant or venison burgers and steaks. Sadly we missed out on sampling them, as we were visiting on the Sabbath.

On a Sunday only the set menu is available, a choice of either two or three courses at a wallet-friendly price of either £15.95 or £19.95.

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The starter choices consisted of a belly-warming soup of the day – tattie and leek – a plump pigeon starter or ham hock terrine for carnivores, whilst I selected the light salad option of mixed candied beetroot, red onion and fresh baby leaves.

Beetroot salad, with goat cheese red onion and fresh baby leaves.

This arrived on a wooden chopping board with divine melt-in-the-mouth goats cheese nuggets scattered around.

The best bit was chasing every drop of the sweet but sharp balsamic dressing which was generously swirled over the top.

The fella was nearly tempted by the ham hock dish, but wavering at the last moment he instead opted for the tender pink pigeon breast, seared to perfection with pan-fried wild mushrooms and Stornoway black pudding.

Pigeon breast with pan-fried wild mushrooms and Stornoway black pudding.

He reported chewy, crisp black pudding hidden under a pile of assorted fungi, with the star bird front and centre of the plate decorated by micro herbs.

This is my kind of tasty one-pan dish, which will save on the washing up later.

For the main course, the roast of the day was a slab of tender beef served with lashings of gravy, acres of garlic roast potatoes and carrots, and a chubby Yorkshire pud.

“Worth missing breakfast for,” the fella uttered, swiftly followed by, “better than anything I was contemplating making for lunch.”

I had selected the herb-strewn risotto, which did not disappoint. Roasted vine tomatoes and asparagus made for flavoursome forkfuls accompanied by a few Parmesan crisps for texture.

The plateful arrived pretty as a picture, with a bouquet of micro herbs deposited on the rice summit. I think both our clean plates said it all, delicious.

We had planned to share a pudding, but that idea was soon kicked to the
kerb with a quick scan of the dessert options.

I quickly bagged a duo of Belgium chocolate fudge cake served with Mackie’s Scottish Tablet ice cream.

Belgium chocolate fudge cake served with Mackie’s Scottish Tablet ice cream. Picture: Catriona Thomson

It arrived with a couple of raspberries and shortbread crumbs and was demolished at lightning speed.

The fella selected a palate-cleansing lemon tart, crisp pastry citrus filling paired with smooth vanilla ice cream, which disappeared just as fast.

This game old bird recommends this place as ideal to hit the hunger pangs, lock stock and barrel, so bag yourself a bargain and get a meal at The Fat Pheasant in your sights pronto.



The Fat Pheasant

(13-15 Main Street, Newton, Broxburn EH52 6QE)
Tel: 0131629 8671,


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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