Borders hotel named as best in Scotland for food for third year running

Nick Henderson at Burt's Hotel in Melrose.
Nick Henderson at Burt's Hotel in Melrose.

A Borders pub has been named as the best in Scotland for eating out at for the third year running and fourth time overall.

Burt’s Hotel in Melrose has retained its title as the country’s leading pub for dining in this year’s Good Pub Guide.

The Cross Keys in Ancrum.

The Cross Keys in Ancrum.

That plaudit has been welcomed by proprietor Nick Henderson and his 24 staff at the Market Square business.

“We’re absolutely delighted,” said the 48-year-old.

“It’s always good to get awards, and the Good Pub Guide is a really good one to get because it’s down to people writing in and telling them that they like what you’re doing.

“We’ve got a really good staff at the moment, and this is recognition for their hard work.”

The Wheatsheaf Hotel in Swinton

The Wheatsheaf Hotel in Swinton

The hotel, formerly Anderson’s Temperance Hotel, was renamed in 1926 after being taken over by Frederick Burt.

It has been run by Mr Henderson’s family since 1971, originally by his parents Graham and Anne Henderson and latterly by him and his wife Trish.

The guide, edited by Fiona Stapley, praises Burt’s for its “particularly good, confident cooking that showcases the best local produce”, adding “This is a smart place run by the same family for many years.”

Among the items typically to be found on its menus are roast fillet of pork with pork belly, black pudding and potato, apple puree and Calvados sauce, and Highland venison and red wine casserole with herb-creamed tatties and vegetable crisps.

It usually has three real ales on tap and an extensive wine list, as well as offering a range of more than 90 whiskies.

Burt’s Hotel is one of only three Borders pubs to be included in the main section of the near-1,100-page guide, the others being the Wheatsheaf at Swinton and the Cross Keys at Ancrum.

The guide praises the Cross Keys saying: “This cheerful pub is the hub of local life, but there are usually just as many visitors too as the reputation of its innovative food has spread far and wide.”

Of the Wheatsheaf, it says: “Although this is more of a restaurant with rooms, the attentive friendly staff also welcome customers into the little bar and informal lounges.”

Also given a mention in a round-up of other pubs worth investigating are the Black Bull at Lauder, the Traquair Arms at Innerleithen, the Craw at Auchencrow, the Cobbles at Kelso, the Gordon Arms at Mountbenger, the Buccleuch Arms at St Boswells and the Border at Kirk Yetholm.

The Good Pub Guide, published by Ebury Press and now in its 35th year, is out now, priced at £15.99.

The Cobbles, the Cross Keys, the Border and the Buccleuch Arms are also featured in this year’s Campaign for Real Ale Good Beer Guide, as reported in last week’s Southern.