KEEP it small and do it well is the philosophy of The Horseshoe and it is manager Mark Slaney and his staff’s success in this endeavour that makes this Borders gem such a destination for foodies.
Just half an hour south of Edinburgh on the road to Peebles, The Horseshoe Inn Restaurant with Rooms consists of the Inn with a restaurant, lounge/dining room and bar in the former smiddy, while at the back in the converted Victorian village school are eight double bedrooms. The Horseshoe is only open five days a week, and the small number of guests makes you feel especially well cared for by the extremely attentive staff.
The main draw is the food, and head chef Alistair Craig prepares fine dining cuisine that has earned the restaurant two AA rosettes. If you want to eat at one of the ten tables in the restaurant, booking is essential.
The Horseshoe makes the most of its location in the rolling Borders landscape and offers lunch cooked and eaten al fresco from white tablecloths with silver and crystal on a nearby hill top. It also offers getaway breaks (see website for details) with transport to and from Edinburgh Airport or Waverley railway station.
WINING AND DINING
With the candles blinking on starched white table cloths, the atmosphere in the restaurant is one of convivial luxury. A daily changing menu features locally-sourced food and there’s an impressive list of 300 wines. After an aperitif of Boë gin, distilled in the village of Doune in Perthshire, and appetisers of olives and cheese biscuits in the bar, we moved into the dining room. Our starters of roast partridge, caramelised onion orzotto, beer-pickled onions and Stornoway black pudding for him and mussel risotto for me were beautifully presented. After an amuse bouche of pigs trotter and celeriac, came show-stealing mains of roast Highland red deer, Sarladaise potato, cavolo nero, beetroot, parsley root with black pepper sauce and honey roast pheasant, Boudin Blanc, Anna potatoes, cavolo nero and red wine sauce. Desserts of apple and almond crumble, blackberry sorbet and lemon syllabub rounded off the celebration of flavours perfectly. Breakfast featured salmon from the Ettrick Valley Smokehouse, sausages from Forsyth’s of Peebles, Ayrshire bacon, Stornoway black pudding and peat smoked haddock. Pity we were still full from the night before.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE
It’s boutique, with thick curtains, carpets and cushions in the bedrooms and gilt framed landscapes and big comfy sofas in the bar. In the restaurant it’s fine dining all the way.
In the sympathetically converted village school building, the eight rooms have a four gold star rating from the AA Guide. They all have their own bathrooms with locally-produced toiletries by mESMeRICK. As well as a work desk, there’s a wall-mounted LCD TV and free wi-fi.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
Nestled in the scenic Moorfoot Hills, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to walks. From the back of The Horseshoe we followed a path to the top of Cavarra Hill, where a small cairn, the remains of a hill settlement and fantastic views are the reward.
Another fascinating walk involves heading along to the Barony Castle Hotel to see the quirky outdoor relief map, the Great Polish Map of Scotland, constructed from concrete.
The market town of Peebles is just ten minutes’ drive away, or you can simply wander along the River Tweed, which runs through the town.
Fresh fruit in the room, fruit cake and tea and coffee making facilities were welcome. Bathrobes and an ironing board were appreciated too.
This foodie destination is a great base for exploring the Borders. Rates are £120 bed and breakfast per room until December. Special Break, two nights DBB, May to September, £450 pp. Set menu £35 (with wine £47), à la carte £45, tasting menu £55 (with wine £85) menu of the day £35. DBB residents may choose the set menu or pay £10 supplement and have à la carte or £20 and have the tasting menu. Sunday lunch is £27.50 (three courses). Set £22.50 (three course) and four courses £35. There is a separate private dining room for up to 14 people. n
The Horseshoe Restaurant With Rooms, Eddleston, Peebles EH45 8QP
(01721 730225, www.horseshoeinn.co.uk)