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.
August 14, 2022

The Hoebridge Restaurant review

Cat Thomson heads to the Borders to escape the festival and enjoys great service and delicious food

When the festival is in town there are two approaches you can take: firstly to embrace the madness and join the whirling maelstrom of creative insanity or alternatively, run for the hills.

It will come as no surprise that I chose the latter, and with my elder daughter in tow we headed for The Hoebridge, Gattonside near Melrose.

Escape to the country

This place has been on my eating wish list for sometime. I was all set to go before the first lockdown and then again when restrictions were lifted. Each time I rebooked only to be thwarted again.

The place is a family-run restaurant in the Scottish Borders with the focus on creating small seasonal menus that change every month.

The Hoebridge
The Hoebridge

What the kitchen cannot make themselves in house they will source from local producers like; Shaw’s for local meats, fish and shellfish from Ross Dougal in Eyemouth, organic flours from Mungoswells in East Lothian, IJ Mellis cheese, Borders-roasted Luckie Coffee and beer from Tempest Brewery.

Style file

It is a bit posher than my usual places that I review, so I decided to dress to impress and spruce myself up slightly.

But gazing at my clothes options I couldn’t find anything suitable to wear, so decided to borrow an outfit from my daughter’s wardrobe.

A big mistake as I foolishly asked my younger child, who wasn’t part of the dining party, if I was suitably attired. Her response was a damning: “You look like a Tory.” 

I arrived slightly pink in the face and flustered. My advice to all is allow a little extra time to take the scenic route here and don’t ask your children for fashion advice.

The Hoebridge
Crab meat sprinkled on top of the Kohlrabi, apple, fennel and red onion slaw

However once over the threshold, all my troubles disappeared the second I stepped inside the calm interior. The place has an understated elegance, so why not arrive early and order drinks at the bar from the extensive and reasonable cocktail list? 

On a non driving day I could have been tempted by a cheeky Mojito, Margarita or Manhattan but instead we stuck to diet coke and lemonade, £3 each.

It turns out the chef grew up here and then spent time in New York City, before returning home to run this stylish restaurant. 

His partner is in charge of the front of house while he cooks up a storm in the kitchen. They may have a country restaurant but they have brought international big city style and levels of service to the Borders.

Fine dining

On arrival we took time to compose ourselves, before we headed to our table, to take a peep at the menu. We took our time to ponder which of the seasonal offerings we should try.

This allowed us an opportunity to scoff the delicious focaccia which was brought to us, happily ripping off chunks and dunking them into olive oil.

For wine aficionados, there is an extensive and impressive wine list, and to showcase what is on offer a selection of bottles are displayed on an entire wall of the dining room, all beautifully lit. The simple menu features small and large plates and desserts.

The Hoebridge
Whipped ricotta, radicchio, walnuts, honey and thyme

After much debate I opted for roast figs with fluffy cloud-like whipped ricotta, radicchio, walnuts, honey and thyme for my starter, £9.

The plate had a seared segment of radicchio perched on top of the cheese, with the unctuous warmed figs lazily relaxed all over the plate, which provided the perfect sweet pairing to the bitter walnut halves.

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Seafood and eat it

My dining companion had chosen the crab dish, £12, and I am happy to report, a satisfied smile crossed her lips on the first taste.

The delicate crustacean dish comprised an artistic swirl of buttermilk dressing, with crab meat sprinkled on top of the Kohlrabi, apple, fennel and red onion slaw. The addition of some vibrant pea shoots provided some colour contrast.

The Hoebridge
Butter poached halibut with pea puree

For my main course, I had selected chargrilled courgette with broad beans and feta, £22, which was served with chickpea chip fritters which were hidden under the sliced vegetables.

They balanced on a bed of hummus with more legumes, this time in roast chickpea form decorating the dish.

My daughter wasted no time and dived straight into her divine pea puree and butter poached halibut, £28, which she said was cooked to perfection.

It was served with tempura battered courgette flower, stuffed scallop and fennel. On reflection the dish was simply stunning - a celebration of summer on a plate.

The Hoebridge
Peach and almond tart

Sweet treats were a must for both of us so I opted for peach and almond tart with seasonal blackcurrant ice cream, £10. A caramelised tartlet with a quenelle of purple ice cream and a few blueberries and a pansy for frivolity. It tasted as good as it looked.

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We also selected the yogurt lemon posset, £10, which came in a dainty glass with broken shards of skinny meringue and a tiny sprinkling of supercharged citrus lemon powder. One mouthful and your taste buds were hooked.

Even the most demanding showbiz diva, escaping the festival for an evening, would not be able to fault the service or the delicious food.

The Hoebridge
Chargrilled courgette with broad beans and feta

The Hoebridge, Gattonside, Melrose, UK
The Hoebridge, Gattonside, Melrose, UK, TD6 9LZ
01896 823082
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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