Osso, Peebles

On Valentine’s Day I managed to grab a last minute bargain at The Park hotel in Peebles (B+B for £48) so as I had made such a saving on the accommodation I booked a table at Osso’s just across the road for an evening meal.

After a beautiful walk along the Tweed in the afternoon, working up an appetite, we went into Osso’s for our dinner.

We were immediately greeted at the door and shown to our table. With wine chosen and menus in hand we were given an amuse bouche and some popcorn but because I was taken by surprise I can’t remember what they were – I seem to remember one being a smoked fish and the other being a haggis bonbon but I may be wrong, regardless, they were both delightful. OH dived right in hence why one is missing from the pic.

For a starter OH went for Warm crab vol ou vent, fennel, pickled kohl rabi & sea herbs. OH loved it – he hadn’t had crab for a long time and said it reminded him of being in Rhodes drinking ouzo and eating seafood.

I chose the Scottish hand dived scallop, celeriac broth, apple and celery. Since a camping holiday in Tayvallich I have refused to pay good money for scallops as the group I was with dived for them and they were plentiful, free and fabulous so this was an unusual choice for me. However, they were absolutely amazing and I can safely say this is the best starter I have had for a long time. Everything about it was amazing. The texture, the flavours the portion size. Just lush.

For mains OH went for Feather blade of beef, roasted root vegetables, watercress and mash. The beef fell apart beautifully and was very rich tasting. The vegetables were done to perfection and as well as having mash he also ordered a side of Parmesan and truffle chips, which arrived with a garlic butter dip that was really garlicky. I had the Grilled plaice fillet, mussels, fennel, dashi potatoes, seaweed and mussel sauce. It was always going to be hard to compete with my starter but this gave it a good go. The plaice was tasty and the mussels small. There was some similarities with my starter as the textures and flavours were akin but not quite, which just highlighted again how good the starter was.

We did ask for dessert menus and we did get them but we waited and waited for someone to ask OH what he wanted – he had decided on the Poached pear, dark chocolate mousse, warm almond sponge. Unfortunately, although service had been excellent up to this point no-one appeared and as the wine was finished we decided to just ask for the bill instead.

A bottle of white, 2 starters , 2 mains and 1 side = £67.50 for a very, very wonderful meal…

…and in case you are wondering the bed was comfy and the breakfast spot-on at The Park.

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Melrose Abbey and Barony Castle Hotel

Since it was my birthday midweek OH and I decided to celebrate it the weekend after and booked a hotel near Peebles – the near bit is important as there’s no way you could say it was in Peebles – it’s 5 miles out of the town! The wrongly named hotel was the Mercure Peebles Barony Castle Hotel. Before OH and I checked in we decided to go further south and visit Melrose Abbey as I had never been before. The abbey is beautiful and the complimentary audio tour is definitely worth listening to as it gives you all the history of the abbey, highlights all the nooks and crannies you’d want to see and gets you to look for things such as the bagpipe playing pig gargoyle that you’d probably miss otherwise. There are spiral steps up to the roof, which gives a fantastic view but they aren’t for the faint hearted and my thighs muscles are still sore from the climb so be warned. melrose-abbeyAfter the abbey we had a quick wander around the shops and then headed back up to Peebles.

As usual I had picked a dog friendly hotel so (for an extra £15) Amber could come too. The hotel is a 15th Century building with a mixture of old comfortable chairs and modern, stylish furniture. There is a spa and conservatory area as well so the hotel has done well to marry old with the new.

During check-in we were asked if we wanted to book a table in the restaurant but it would have to be later on as the hotel was fully booked and there were no dining room slots until 8.45. Being a Fifer, I have a 5 o’clock tummy so we decided to eat in the bar instead where there was a typical pub grub menu. I opted for Chicken fajita wrap with seasonal salad and fries £12.95 and OH went for the Beer battered haddock, peas, homemade tartare sauce, crisp salad and fries £13.95. Just in case you’re interested the restaurant menu has things like deer, duck, lamb and salmon.

When my fajita arrived I was surprised to see it was already rolled and not the usual DIY job I am used to. It left me wondering how I was supposed to put the sour cream, guacamole and salsa on to it. I then tried to pick up the tortilla and it collapsed fajitahsungracefully in front of me. So that was my problem solved as I then ate it with a fork and knife and added the sauces to it as I ate. Overall it was tasty enough but I’d have preferred a couple of tortillas and the chance to build it myself. I had no complaints with the accompanying fries as they were delish.

fishOH’s fish looked a bit small compared to other pieces of haddock he has had in the past but the batter was nice and crispy and although it looked like a bit of a tiddler OH said it was filling enough. Surprisingly, he also said he quite liked the tartare sauce as it wasn’t overpowering. This is unusual for him as he isn’t normally a fan. Of course he also loved the fries.

We spent the rest of the evening in the bar running up a large drinks bill. The décor of the bar again brought together  the ancient with the contemporary. However, some of the old chairs could do with a bit more padding. I’m pretty sure Drew Pritchard would be interested in buying and re-upholstering a number of the armchairs in the Blue Dug Bar.

The following morning we were woken by one barking dog and another whining. My best guess is that their owners had left them in the room whilst they had went for breakfast and they had set one another off. I have been to a number of dog friendly hotels before and this is the first time this has happened. Fortunately Amber didn’t join in the dog chorus. barony

The hotel breakfast was good and there was the usual vast selection of hot and cold stuffs on offer. After consuming as much of the buffet as we could we went for a walk in the grounds to see the The Great Polish Map of Scotland. << Click the link for more info but basically the map is a huge 3D map of Scotland, sculpted in concrete and measuring some 40m by 50m. It is a sight to behold and my pic really doesn’t do it justice. map

All in all, we had a fabulous time in the Borders and enjoyed our stay in the Barony Castle Hotel.