The Townhouse Hotel, Melrose
The Townhouse Hotel
Market Square, Melrose TD6 9PQ
01896 822645 www.thetownhousemelrose.co.uk
Soup & Sandwich - £6.95 (Lunch only, I think)
3-2-1 Menu | 3 courses plus bottle of house wine - £60 for 2
A la Carte
Starters £3.00 - £7.95| Mains £13.95 - £22.95
Desserts £2.50 - £6.95
Cooking 6/10 | Service 4/5 | Flavour 4/5 | Value 5/5
I don't know the Scottish Borders terribly well. I was pushed to remember much about my last visit to Melrose a number of years ago, apart from the culinary detail. After a bracing walk, we returned to town in search of sustenance. At 2.01 we entered a hotel (not this one). The sign said lunch served 12 - 2. The dining room was packed, many tables just on starters. A table for 2? No, you're too late. And thus it was that we arrived at a nearby pub and ordered stovies. Two groaning plates arrived each accompanied by half a jar of pickled beetroot - and chips. Not a combo I've ever had since, but at least these good people understood the notion of hospitality.
As do the Henderson family, who own this hotel and Burt's across the road. Someone asked me recently if they were related to the Henderson family of Whighams in Edinburgh. Not a clue. For all I know they may be late of Pablo Fanque's Fair, but they know their business. Far better, I suggest, than whoever was in charge of the signage between nearby Tweedbank Station and Melrose town centre. By coincidence we chose an anniversary of the Borders railway to make the jaunt. A nice easy train ride of less than an hour, and, in theory, a mile and a half walk thereafter. I think we clocked up about seven miles on the round trip. Going into town we found ourselves diverted via the River Tweed. Picturesque, but made us late for lunch. The way back was even worse. Then our hopes soared. Tweedbank ½ read a sign. 20 minutes later, the next one said Tweedbank ¾. My advice: take your own map, and avoid the Lewis Carroll directions on offer.
The game, however, is certainly worth the candle. I don't know how old the hotel is, but it is one of those quaint buildings on many levels and sub levels, not all as intended by the builders or architects. The dining room, on the other hand, is an elegant little space, and if it's hard to give an effusive welcome in a face mask, they did their best. (To be accurate, I think we were in the room which they call The Brasserie, but the menus seem to be the same for both.) There is something for everything. You can have soup and a sandwich for an astonishing £6.95. At the other end there is an attractive menu which they name 3-2-1, which offers three courses with a bottle of house wine, for £60 for 2 people. We went midway, with the a la carte which offered 8 each of starters and mains, 5 puds and cheese. A rustic pate was a well flavoured and chunky example, served at the correct temperature with chutney and toast. Fish cakes were well made, well seasoned and with plenty of fish, though they could perhaps done with significantly less of the (very tasty) curry sauce which drowned them slightly. A large piece of perfectly cooked cod was served on a good ragout of potato, chorizo and spinach, with various other ingredients resulting in a hearty plate of food. As was a classic combination of pork fillet, cabbage, mustard, pork belly and black pud (the latter two in croquette form), fondant potatoes and other good things. Wonderful stuff, but I couldn't finish it - and that doesn't happen often.
Not only is this a place to go should you happen to be in Melrose, it's certainly worth a trip - though preferably with an itinerary less convoluted than ours.
We’ve stayed twice in the Henderson’s opposite hotel. Was a bit down at the heel then, but food & hospitality excellent + lovely area.
As to the Henderson brothers being related to Nick Henderson of Whighams & the sadly missed vegetarian restaurant, we’re not sure. If they are, it’s distant. Richard was brought up with the veggie Henderson family. Father (Mac) Henderson was a Scottish rugby internationalist & the 2 brothers look like they too may have been! Mac died aged 101!
Sorry you didn’t make it to review Provender our friend’s place in Melrose & after your journey, you won’t be heading back soon!
Sounds a wonderful place to visit. Nice review.
Having stayed recently in Burt’s hotel on a walking holiday I was very interested to read a review of their sister hotel, which faced us across the road. The welcome in Burt’s was not diminished by the difficulties imposed by Covid restrictions. The breakfasts were delicious and set us up for a days walking, by day two I had to acknowledge that I did not really need to carry lunch up the hills with me. The beer garden was very suitable for recovering after the walks, for both people and dogs. Dinner in the bar was a delight – great nachos as well as interesting fish dishes. Lots of good choices and puds too. I have to say the dining room looked beautiful and I was sorry not to have an excuse to eat in such beautiful surroundings, it would have been well worth the small additional charge. Perhaps another day ……
We walked by the Tweed, up the Eildons, along St Cuthberts way and visited Abbotsford, which had a wonderful walled garden. I do hope to visit Melrose again.
Hi, Marion. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Hope this finds you well.
Always a pleasure to get a comment from a real food writer. I was out at Castle Game yesterday. The boys have had a great week. Firstly your article in The Scotsman, then with Dougie Vipond and Nick Nairn on Landward