Sometimes, you just need to escape the big city. Sure, Glasgow has its many and varied charms — but come June, even those of us born and bred hanker for a wee trip doon the waater.
The other half and I went one better this week, taking a mini road trip east to enjoy the rather picturesque East Lothian coastline.
The destination was Gullane, and The Golf Inn — a hotel looking to tout good food as much as its sporty location.
Head chef and manager Derek Johnstone may be familiar to Masterchef fans, having won the first Professionals series back in
Having since worked in the two michelin star kitchen at Le Gavroche, expectations were high when we settled into a pleasant, minimalist dining room on a quiet Thursday night.
The menu is a safe bet, treading the line between classic hotel restaurant options and cheffy experiments.
The OH started with one of the latter; a goats cheese panna cotta with candied orange, beetroot and walnuts. Well, it said walnuts — there were none to be seen. Still, it was an interesting dish; bordering on sweet and dessert-like, brought back down to earthy by discs of beetroot.
But it’s safe to say I won starter round, because my king oyster garlic mushrooms on brioche was excellent; richer than the golfers who holiday in Gullane and topped with a perfectly runny poached egg and hints of truffle, it was enough to make the trip.
On then to the mains and, despite complaints that I’m fed up writing about steaks, a fillet was ordered up across the table; a tasty, sizeable 8oz cut with decent chips and a gorgeous béarnaise — made even better with a mound of soft fine beans.
I went for a seasonal celebration option of wild sea trout with squid ink fettuccini and seafood emulsion. It’s a mouthful — but then, what arrived was too, and in a good way. Crisp skin gave way to soft flesh, plump seafood morsels, just the right amount of pasta and a heavenly, thick sea-salty
This was how Scottish seafood should be — straight out of the water, onto the plate and wafting you in the face like a sea breeze on a windy day at the beach (which, incidentally, I can also recommend in Gullane, as the beach is beautiful).
We finished with a tasty vanilla and raspberry creme brulee with lavender shortbread on my side and a well-presented, intriguing yoghurt panna cotta with local berries and springy meringue — both good Scottish fare, although the OH’s might have taken the lead.
A drink or two in the bar — albeit with a whisky so watered down you could have served it in a juice carton — and we retired to a pretty, recently renovated suite in a back cottage for a decent night’s sleep (must have been all that sea air).
Should you stay at The Golf Inn, I’d recommend rising in time for breakfast. The OH — a self-confessed hotel breakfast fan — used the word ‘tremendous’ to describe his ample full Scottish, and a nibble or two at decent sausage, black pudding, haggis proved him right.
I had pancakes with bacon and maple syrup — a bit sweet for many a tastebud, but it set me up for a day of exploring, and felt like a real holiday treat.
Should you find yourself swapping west for east, or hankering for a the sight of a well-appointed green — and the Scottish Open is on at Gullane next month, so it might be well-timed — then there’s a warm welcome, swish surroundings and food elevated beyond the usual hotel fare waiting at The Golf Inn.
The Golf Inn
Tel: 01620 843259