Stewart McRobert enjoys an evening at the historic ‘Elph’ hotel in Biggar.
The tail end of a spring storm was wreaking its final havoc when we pulled into the Borders town of Biggar. Turning up windswept, we were duly blown away by the warm welcome we received at our destination, the Elphinstone Hotel.
Just 25 miles from Edinburgh, Biggar is a popular spot for those who are keen to explore the Borders region. And the award-winning Elphinstone Hotel, which has been recognised for business excellence as well as receiving Trip Advisor certificates of excellence, sits snugly in the town centre.
Having stood on its site for more than 400 years, the former coaching house could now be considered part of the town’s DNA. It continues to be at the centre of local life and is extremely popular with the people of Biggar.
That much was clear as we headed to the hotel bar for pre-meal drinks. As the chatty and friendly barman prepared our selections the bar was alive with early evening buzz.
The Elphinstone’s determination to showcase the best local produce was evident in its extensive dinner menu, as well as the drinks list – everything from Biggar ice cream to Biggar gin was available.
Somewhat reluctantly we left the bar and took our place for dinner. Our reticence soon disappeared when we were presented with our starters: hot smoked salmon and prawn cocktail on my part, breaded brie for Helen. Both dishes were quickly and eagerly consumed.
Next up, I opted for one of the Elphinstone’s specials; lamb rump served with caper and mint jus, squash puree, roasted beetroot and fondant potato. Feeling patriotic (as well as hungry), Helen chose Steak Jacobean, which consisted of medallions of prime Scottish fillet steak accompanied with local haggis and a creamy peppercorn sauce.
We made wise choices. My lamb was perfectly pink on the inside and particularly well complemented by the earthy beetroot. Across the table there were approving noises when I asked about the quality and tastiness of the steak.
Almost full, but not quite, we still had space for a couple of the Elphinstone’s ice cream sundaes. This time, I was the one to take the tartan option, selecting the Rob Roy, which came with shortbread and Drambuie. Meanwhile, Helen was tempted by the ‘Malteser’ sundae, which, obviously, had the famous chocolate as one of its chief ingredients.
After a joyous few minutes munching our way through these delights we dispensed with our napkins and decided to re-join the throng in the bar for a nightcap.
Next morning, rested and refreshed, we were up early for a traditional Scottish breakfast, which set us up nicely for the morning ahead. Luckily, the previous day’s storm had abated, the sun was shining and we were ready to hit the road.
As we set off, there was no doubt in our minds: the Elphinstone Hotel makes Biggar even better.
For more information see: www.elphinstonehotel.co.uk