Fab news for foodies, tourists or just anyone who enjoys a good meal — the restaurants and cafes of the Scottish Borders are opening their doors again. Which means that wherever you go, you might catch a tempting whiff of fresh lobster, simmering broths and of course, freshly baked scones.
So whether you are craving gourmet dining, a hearty pub meal or just a really nice afternoon tea, you certainly won't go hungry. And if you're looking for a little bit of inspiration, then here are a few choice picks for where to eat in spring and summer 2021 (please note that the opening times below can change, plus it is best to book your table in advance right now):
If you are looking for a truly unique and quirky night out, then Wilson's Farm & Kitchen at Morebattle near Kelso would be perfect. Up to eight diners can enjoy a private dining experience in one of the farms 'wee bothies' (small shelters that were previously used as grain stores). Each of the cosy bothies has its own private fire pits and fantastic views, plus it is socially distanced too. Bookings are available in the evenings from May to September and have to be made at least 72 hours in advance. All meals include a local Gourmet Tasting Platter as well as soft drinks, tea, coffee, water and delicious homemade baking.
In Lauder, Firebrick Brasserie promises 'simple special food' featuring tasty local produce from suppliers like Burnside Farm Food. As Chef David Haetzman and pastry chef Amanda Jordan have over 20 years of experience at the helm of some of Scotland's top restaurants, you know that you're in for a good meal. This stylish, relaxed and family-friendly brasserie has a number of menu highlights, including the rump of Borders roe deer with black pudding, or the fillet of stone bass with curried mussels. Current opening hours are Thursday to Sunday.
Over in Melrose, Provender Restaurant & Bar prides itself in combining Scottish ingredients with French cooking styles. The menu features local produce from garden, land and sea, including top name suppliers like the Bowland Estate. A pleasant terrace area makes it ideal for dining al fresco. Tempting choices include a playful starter of Orkney hand-dived scallop 'fish & chips' with mushy peas, beer batter scraps and malt, and a main course of 35-day-aged Borders sirloin of beef served with béarnaise sauce and skinny fries. Provender is opened Wednesday to Sunday at the moment.
Finally, if Scottish-Italian fusion sounds tempting to you, then head to Hunters Stables Wine Room & Bistro in St. Boswells. The kitchen team at Hunters believe that Scottish and Italian cuisines actually pair very well together, as both countries offer simple yet hearty ingredients which create honest good food. On the menu is a large variety of 12-inch stone-fired pizzas, as well as pastas such as lobster-stuffed agnolotti served with calamari, prawn & cherry tomato sauce. Steaks, burgers and family favourites like fish & chips are also available. Hunters Stables is open every day apart from Tuesdays and there is outdoor seating available.
Pubs and inns
In Lauder, The Black Bull is a true local favourite and has all of the atmosphere you would expect from a former 18th century coaching inn. Only the best quality local beef, lamb, fish and seasonal game are served up, all prepared to order by the head chef. High ceilings, cosy fireplaces and big leather armchairs all combine to create a very relaxing vibe. Classic pub cuisine includes the Chef's special chicken curry, the 80z Scottish sirloin steak, or the goats' cheese & broccoli tart. The Black Bull seems to be open daily right now, although do double check in advance for dining times.
Over in St. Boswells, the award-winning Buccleuch Arms is known for its Blue Coo Bistro & Bar and its beer garden. Built in 1836 as a hunting lodge by the 5th Duke of Buccleuch, the distinctive red brick building is a welcome sight for walkers and tourers. The bistro serves gastropub cuisine and has a passionate 'field to fork' ethos which includes sourcing first class local suppliers. A highlight of the current menu is the sustainable seared sea bass with king prawn, sweet pepper and a parmesan & lime risotto. The Buccleuch Arms is open every day throughout May and June, although bear in mind that it is only serving an evening menu right now.
Winner of a TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Award, The Plough Inn is a family-run drinking and dining spot in Leitholm near Coldstream. This would be a great place to pop into for an unpretentious bite to eat while visiting nearby attractions like The Hirsel or Etal Caste. The menu includes plenty of pub classics, such as a range of gourmet pies from Jarvis Pickle and a veggie 'fish & chips' served with breaded halloumi. Food is currently being served at lunchtimes and Wednesday to Sunday evenings. It is worth noting that the pub's beer garden is closed right now.
Cafes and tearooms
Bit of a bookworm? Main Street Trading Company is a much-loved bookshop, cafe and deli in St. Boswells. You could easily spend a good couple of hours here — first browsing the novels while enjoying the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, then picking a choice read before sitting down to enjoy it over lunch. The cafe serves a range of soups, sandwiches and salads, as well as cakes baked in-house (the chocolate Guinness cake is a particular favourite). Right now, Main Street Trading Company is open Tuesday to Sunday.
Apples for Jam cafe and gallery in Melrose is such as institution that it has now opened a second branch in Earlston. The original location has a charmingly airy feel with a range of colourful artworks on the walls. Visitors can enjoy a fun menu of savoury bites, pastries and cakes, showcasing indie suppliers like Katy Cloud Bakery and Naked Sourdough. Highlights include the freshly made sourdough baguettes, artisan hotdogs and a very tempting range of filled doughnuts (as well as an all-important afternoon tea menu). Apples for Jam is open every day until 4pm.
In Kelso, The Cream Chimneys cafe and gift shop has been picking up plenty of praise on TripAdvisor. Run by Wayne, Jane and their four-legged friend, Piper the golden retriever, this is a lovely spot to eat after a stroll along the Tweed. As a bonus, the coffee is roasted locally in the Borders and delivered fresh fortnightly (but if coffee isn't your thing then can try a spectacular flowering tea instead). Soups, sandwiches and paninis are served for lunch, plus afterwards you can head to the 'Table of Temptation' to pick a cake. The Cream Chimneys is now re-opened seven days.
Planning a Borders holiday soon? Then book a stay at an Airhouses luxury holiday lodge, located close to popular eating spots like Firebrick Brasserie and The Black Bull.
You might also like:
Six of the Best Restaurants in the Scottish Borders.
Five Fun Things To Do in the Scottish Borders This Year.
Three Unmissable Scottish Borders Coastal Walks.
Airhouses is more than an award-winning holiday escape — it’s an experience you will never forget. Explore woodland walks, hiking trails and the peaceful village of Oxton (plus Edinburgh is less than an hour away). And don’t forget to say hello to our friendly animal family of alpacas, goats, donkeys, pigs, Shetland ponies and more.