The Bonnie Badger - From nature to plate, from seed to lip
Updated: May 14
Ben Branson, founder of non-alcoholic brand Seedlip and Michelin chef Tom Kitchin have an instinctive synergy. Mother nature underpins the ethos of both of their businesses and also reflects the agricultural influences in both of their backgrounds.
The Bonnie Badger is Tom Kitchin’s Gullane gastropub which sits alongside Scran and Scallie, The Kitchin, and Kora. The ‘Badger’ has rooms, bar, restaurant, private dining, and a large garden space with a fire. It sits on the main street of the small East Lothian town and the building is carpeted in leaves.
This summer Seedlip and Kitchin are collaborating in a special ‘Seedlip Serves’ menu inspired by the herbs and botanicals grown at The Bonnie Badger.
I visit in early May to sample this menu which is served in the garden’s outdoor room. Tom’s wife and business associate Michaela designs the restaurants and her native Swedish influence is evident. Lamps, wildflowers, and a long wooden table adorned with jars and boxes of herbs is all charmingly Scandi. The meal is an opportunity to both appreciate Seedlip’s versatility as well as tasting Tom’s seasonal dishes.
Before we dine Ben discusses the fact that we have 47,000 edible plants of which we eat very few. Biodiversity is exciting and it kickstarted Ben to start distilling in his own kitchen, which in turn, led to him becoming a pioneer of non-alcoholic spirits. Seedlip is now largely owned by Diageo and sold in 35 countries globally.
Gazpacho is served with a Seedlip sorbet and a Carrot Cocktail of Seedlip Grove 42, Carrot, soda and sage. It’s invigorating. A delicious daily five in one course including mushroom focaccia to the side. Next up is Raviolo of fresh herbs, ricotta, Scottish asparagus, peas, and broad beans. This screams “primavera” and is complemented by Seedlip Garden 108, elderflower cordial, cucumber, lime and mint. The lime enhances all ingredients and adds a welcome sour note. It’s a grown up mocktail served in a balloon glass. (Side note: Ben from Seedlip has the word PEAS tattooed on his hand.) For dessert, Scottish strawberries and East Lothian elderflower mousse are summer in a bowl. This time accompanied by ‘Basil & Berries’ Seedlip Spice 94, grapefruit, lemon and strawberries. A cute red cocktail served in a Nick and Nora glass with peg of basil for garnish.
The explosion of colourful seasonal ingredients and skill of creating such cocktails and dishes is intoxicating negating the need for alcoholic drinks. If this is the standard that The Bonnie Badger sets a return visit is a no-brainer; moreover, it has just been recognised as East Lothian Pub & Bar of the Year at this year's National Pub & Bar Awards.
The Bonnie Badger - Main St, Gullane EH31 2AB - 01620 621111