Staying away in a hotel or Inn always feels rather special. Its always great to get away, even if its just for one night, and it offers something you can never really recreate at home…indulgence, relaxation, a comfier bed than your own, people to look after you, no need to clean up after yourself, and my favourite – good food! A couple of weeks ago my mum and I took a trip to Gullane, a tiny little town in East Lothian, situated on the East coast of Scotland, to stay at The Golf Inn, a charming and cosy inn, renowned for its excellent food from head chef Derek Johnstone – a former winner of BBC’s MasterChef: The Professionals.
Just a 90 minute drive from Glasgow and 30 minutes from Edinburgh, Gullane is well known for its excellent golf courses and award-winning beach. For more than 350 years, golfers have flocked to its championship courses which offer stunning coastal views, excellent turf and a climate that allows play all year round.
There has long been confusion as to the proper pronunciation of this little town. Some pronounce it ‘Gull-an’, some ‘Gill-an’, some ‘Goo-lane’ and some pronounce it ‘Gill-ane’, with the emphasis on the second syllable. Personally, I have always known it as ‘Gill-an’. I dated a boy from there many years ago and he told me that was the ‘correct’ way to pronounce it. It doesn’t really matter of course, which ever way you say it, people know what you mean.
The Golf Inn is a charming inn situated right on the main street, in the heart of Gullane. It provides the perfect base to explore the town and its stunning beach, as well as its neighbouring towns and villages. If you’re a golfer, its perfectly placed between Muirfield and Gullane links.
As we arrived at The Golf Inn, we were warmly greeted and shown to our room. The Inn has seven en-suite rooms as well as separate accommodation across a courtyard in Hazel Cottage. All the rooms in the cottage are named after famous courses, and we spent the night in Royal Lytham, which backs out on to large garden.
The room was spotlessly clean and very comfortable. It was freezing outside so I was delighted to see thick and fluffy robes hanging in the wardrobe and even happier when I noticed this gorgeous welcome gift of assorted sweet treats…
I was soon back at ‘room temperature’ and feeling nice and cosy in my dressing gown, snuggled up on my comfy bed. After getting changed, we headed to the restaurant for dinner. Our lovely waitress welcomed us and explained the menu, which changes to reflect each season. Head Chef Derek Johnstone is serious about great tasting food and working with seasonal Scottish ingredients that have been sourced from local producers, growers, fishermen and farmers.
Derek Johnstone won BBC’s MasterChef: The Professionals in 2008, judged by Michel Roux Jnr. His triumph on the show catupulted his career and he was soon working at the famous two Michelin Star restaurant Le Gavroche. However, he yearned to be back in his native Scotland and in 2009 he accepted the position of Head Chef at the Relais & Châteaux 5* Greywalls Hotel & Chez Roux Restaurant, also in Gullane. He took over the reins at The Golf Inn in 2014 with a wealth of experience and enthusiasm for taking the business into a new era.
We took in the menu over a couple of glasses of prosecco and were spoilt for choice. The first dish to catch my eye was this stunning goats cheese mousse with beetroot meringues, black olive crumb and micro basil (£7.50)…
Not only beautiful to look at, it was like a party in my mouth. The beetroot meringe was a revelation! As I bit into it, a whisper of beetroot swirled around my mouth and perfectly complimented the creamy, sharp goats cheese and the punchy black olive crumb. It was a triumph of a dish and I would recommend anyone to travel to Gullane for this alone!
I think my mum had slight food envy until she tried her dish of home smoked trout with pink grapefruit and lemon crème fraîche (£8.50)…
Perfectly light and delicate, with a welcome zing from the pink grapefruit (not something I’d ever normally put with trout, but it worked) and creaminess from the crème fraîche. As my mum said, it was the “perfect starter”.
Next up was Roasted Red Legged Partridge with chestnut sprouts, fondant potatoes and confit legs. (£14.95) and Loin of Highland venison with pickled cabbage, dauphinoise potatoes and artichoke puree (£19.50).
Both dishes were beautifully presented and glorious to eat. If one dish edged it, it was the venison. It was simply stunning…melt in the mouth, rich and fruity and just wonderful with the artichoke puree…the ideal antidote to a cold, blustery winter night. The confit legs with the partridge dish were tender and delicious but I felt that I needed a little more jus, as the breast was ever so slightly on the dry side. Very easily done with partridge and it didn’t spoil the dish. As with the venison dish, it was autumn on a plate.
For dessert I went for the Dark Chocolate and Baileys Pave with praline mousse and mascarpone ice cream (£7)…
What a beauty of a dish! Visually this is a winner. The mascarpone ice scream was sublime, and arrived sitting on crushed honeycomb, a perfect combination. The chocolate pave was dark and rich with varying textures in the layers. I couldn’t pick up the Baileys in it personally, but if you’re a chocolate fan, this is the dish for you. As per usual, my eyes were ‘bigger than my belly’, as my mum constantly comments!
My mum opted for the Scottish Cheese plate (£7.95), complete with Blue Monday, Howgate Brie and Isle of Mull Cheddar with fig relish, quince, red grapes and a selection of biscuits. Divine!
Feeling fit to burst, we retreated back to our room (where my mum continued to pick at our welcome sweet plate – and she says I’m the piggy!) for what turned out to be the best sleep I’d had in months. The bed was ridiculously comfortable. Why is it that beds in hotels and inns are always so damn comfy? Opening the curtains the next morning, the room was flooded with daylight as the doors open into a large and peaceful garden.
After the most powerful of power showers (with complimentary soaps and shampoos from the Scottish Fine Soaps Company), we headed into the dining room to find breakfast laid out, including various cereals, mixed pastries, earl grey poached prunes, cinnamon spiced apricots and vanilla poached pears, as well as a variety of fruit juices.
We started with a mix of the poached fruits (absolutely delicious) with some yoghurt, then we were shown the menu for the hot breakfast options, featuring grilled kippers, eggs benedict, smoked salmon & scrambled eggs, a full Scottish breakfast, bacon/sausage rolls and homemade pancakes with smoked streaky bacon and maple syrup, which was exactly what I went for. And my goodness it hit the spot.
I often find that restaurants serve stupidly large pancakes with nowhere near the appropriate ratio of bacon and maple syrup but this was perfect. And the pancakes tasted so good. Light and crispy on the outside and as fluffy as a cloud on the inside. They also warmed the maple syrup which was a nice touch.
I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at The Golf Inn. It has all the luxury and comfort of a hotel whilst having the personality and friendliness of an informal inn. Even if you can’t stay there, I’d recommend eating there. They are open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner and their menus change daily to reflect what’s in season. They pride themselves on working with local suppliers to serve a real taste of Scotland and as everything is cooked from scratch, special dietary requirements aren’t a problem.
Its a fantastic base if you’re a golfer, or if you’re just looking to get away for a bit of peace and quiet. Nearby North Berwick is a beautiful little town full of delis, cafes, gift shops and galleries.
The price for a double room with breakfast at The Golf Inn is £140 per night.
The Golf Inn
Main Stree, Gullane, EH31 2AB
Phone: 01620 843259