The Watchman – a family affair
Tucked away in East Lothian, Gullane village boasts a stunning coastline, four of Scotland’s best golf courses and, in recent years, some of the finest restaurants in the county. An ideal location for relative newbie The Watchman, which opened in September 2021, when the former Mallard Hotel was bought by three local families, the Watsons, Marnocks and Chapmans. The efforts to revamp the place have certainly paid off, with both inside and outside now finished to a high standard.
Situated on a quiet street facing Goose Green, The Watchman comprises a bright and cosy restaurant/bar, 19 hotel rooms, plush drawing room and extensive terrace at the front, as well as a function room and beautiful garden at the back.
However, as delightful as the surroundings are, it was the food that had brought me here and an intriguing summer menu devised by head chef Kristian. While not extensive, the menu offers something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a burger, fish & chips, a steak, or, as in my case, fresh Scottish seafood.
To start I opt for the bright and seasonal Heirloom Tomatoes with burrata, basil and focaccia croutons – perfectly complemented by the sunshine streaming through the windows (and a glass of picpoul de pinet). My West Coast Cod for main is a meaty, flaky delight, heightened by a creamy beurre noisette, brown shrimp and punctuated with salty capers.
Dessert is a new addition to the menu and heartily recommended by the friendly server, a Banana and Tonka Bean Doughnut with a hazelnut praline sauce – substantial yet light, with a lovely balance of flavours.
My ‘plus one’ can’t see past the roast beef, which can often be disappointing, but the attention to detail shines through in every item on the overflowing plate, particularly the meat itself, sourced from restaurant favourite, local butcher John Gilmour. The conclusion: “almost as good as my mum’s”, which, in this case, is praise indeed.
With high standards throughout and a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, this local, independent business could give Tom Kitchin’s Gullane gastropub Bonnie Badger a run for its money. We will certainly be back for drinks on the terrace or a cosy afternoon by the fire.
Fringe by the Sea is taking place in North Berwick until 14 August, so there couldn’t be better time to visit the east coast and sample some of the exceptional food and drink on offer.
Watchman Hotel & Restaurant: East Links Rd, Gullane EH31 2AF, Scotland
T: 01620 842 299
Restaurant is open 7 days a week
Food served from 1pm to 9pm (12pm to 8pm on a Sunday)
Monday to Wednesday: Bar Open: 11am – 11pm
Thursday to Sunday: Bar Open: 11am – midnight