If you’re ever pootling about in the Borders region of Scotland, as I was with my other half recently, then I suggest you set up your sat-nav for Melrose - and Marmions Brasserie.
This converted home sits on Buccleuch Street, and has been a restaurant for around 30 years. Its ownership last changed hands ten years ago and has been run since then by Turkish-born Chris Kurt – and a splendid ‘mine host’ he makes too!
It was nice to see that Marmions hadn’t gone down that usual road which so many do – by compiling a ‘War & Peace’ menu selection. This was two pages, one for starters and mains and the second for desserts. Simple, effective and non-confusing.
There’s a nice selection of dishes, which I would class as typically Scottish fayre, but with a Mediterranean touch thrown in now and then just to ring the changes, and keep you on your toes.
My choice of starter was the sage infused rabbit terrine with Stornoway black pudding and a rabbit sauce. The rabbit meat was tender with a nice earthy overtone. The sage didn’t overpower and the rabbit sauce – a stock reduction – was delicious.
The CO opted for the smoked salmon on potato cakes. This one didn’t challenge the kitchen too much! It was essentially a well-cooked and seasoned mashed potato cake topped with slices of Scottish oak-smoked salmon. But nonetheless very tasty she said.
We ventured forth onto the mains. I opted for the rather opulent sounding chicken ‘pie’ with a truffle mash while Mrs M chose the good old solid favourite of beer battered haddock served with chips, peas, side salad and coleslaw.
Mrs M’s was first up promptly followed by mine. WOW – was it haddock she ordered, or whale? What a portion, a huge slab of fish on a bed of peas, a plateful of chips and a small dish of tartare sauce along with a good dollop of coleslaw. The batter, with just a tang of beer, was crispy, light and golden brown while the chips, fairly sure they were hand-cut, crisp on the outside with a light, fluffy, soft interior – cooked to perfection. I never saw a forkful!
Now to the chicken ‘pie’. You may wonder why I’ve shoved quotation marks around that word pie. Well, here’s the answer. It’s not actually a pie at all, but a chicken dish served in a vol-au-vent! talk about a lush taste. This was the chicken ‘pie’ of all pies. The free range roast chicken used was tender, the button mushrooms plentiful and the leeks adding that extra onion taste to the overall dish, which had been enveloped in a creamy white sauce. The crispness of the vol-au-vent added yet another texture to the whole meal. The only disappointment for me was the lack of enough black summer truffle in the mash.
If you have space for a pudding, then I’d suggest you seriously look at their eight choice cheese board – I did, and didn’t regret it a bit!
Steamed Mussels in Red Thai Curry Sauce, Crusty Bread - £8.50
Scottish Smoked Salmon with Potato Pancake, Dill Crème Fraiche - £8.25
Crab and King Prawn Salad with Crostini - £7.95
Roulade of Rabbit with Sage, Stornoway Black Pudding, Rocket and a Rabbit Sauce - £7.95
Broccoli Beignet with Figs, Chilli Dressing (v) - £6.95
Free Range Roast Chicken ‘Pie’ with Button Mushroom, Leeks, Summer Truffle with Mashed Potato - £16.95
Seared Venison with Chou Farci, Sweet Potato, Wild Mushrooms, Redcurrant Jus- £15.95
Braised Shin of Scotch Beef with Fondant Potato, Crushed Celeriac, Glazed Carrots, Aromatic Jus -£13.95
Pan Fried Cod Fillet with Saffron Potatoes, Confit Peppers, Chorizo, Warm Tomato Vinaigrette - £13.95
Loch Awe Sea Trout Papilotte with Sautéed Potato, Fennel and Chicory, Champagne Sauce - £12.50
Beer Battered Haddock, Chips, Peas, Salad and Coleslaw - £12.50
Melrose TD6 9LB
Tel: 01896 822245