Cosy surroundings and delicious local produce make the Elphinstone Hotel a great place to eat. Find out why in our review of this traditional Scottish coaching inn.
One of my favourite things about visiting Scotland is definitely the food and drink. I’m always impressed by the fantastic local produce available in many of the restaurants, as well as the warm welcome that I am given.
When Mark and I visited Scotland in November, we were invited to enjoy a delicious meal at the Elphinstone Hotel.
It’s a traditional coaching inn in the town of Biggar, a stopping off point on one of Scotland’s oldest roads. Coaches would stop off on their way from Edinburgh to the South West of Scotland but nowadays there is a public bar in the archway where coaches used to pass through to the stables.
The Elphinstone Hotel has been welcoming weary travellers for around 400 years, and we certainly felt very welcome during our visit.
How to find the Elphinstone Hotel
Biggar is very easy to get to by car, and lies around an hour’s drive South of both Glasgow and Edinburgh.
This makes it perfect as a stopping off point if you’re heading to one of these cities for the weekend.
But the Elphinstone is also a great place to stay overnight, either as a break in your journey onwards, or as a base for exploring the Scottish Lowlands.
If you’re travelling up to Biggar from England, you’ll need to leave the M74 at Junction 13. The hotel is then around a 20 minute drive on the A702.
It’s not so easy to get to the Elphinstone Hotel by public transport. The closest train station is Lanark, which is around 30 minutes away by bus journey away.
Inside the Elphinstone Hotel
The hotel’s lounge bar was quite busy when we arrived at the hotel mid-afternoon on Sunday. Plenty of locals were there enjoying a meal or a drink in the snug bar.
But by the time Mark and I headed downstairs for dinner at 7pm, we were the only diners. One other table was taken a little later, but it was quite a quiet evening.
We were offered the choice of eating in the lounge bar or through in the hotel’s large restaurant, but we both preferred the idea of eating by the fire in the lounge bar.
We ordered a couple of glasses of wine from the wine list – most of the wines were available by the glass or bottle. And while we sipped our wine, we looked through the extensive menu.
The menu is quite large and varied, including everything from steaks and burgers to pasta and pies. There are quite a few vegetarian options available as well. As we were eating on Sunday, the Sunday roast set menu was also available.
And if you are having lunch at the Elphinstone Hotel, they also serve a range of sandwiches, jacket potatoes and light meals alongside the main menu.
We’d had quite a large breakfast that day, and so decided to go straight to the main course. That way, we’d have room to fit in a dessert at the end of the meal!
Dinner at the Elphinstone Hotel
Mark decided to choose from the Sunday Roast set menu, and picked the roast beef for his main course.
His plate arrived laden with plenty of vegetables and roast potatoes, generous slices of tender roast beef and a huge Yorkshire pudding. A rich, meaty gravy completed the Sunday Roast.
Mark really enjoyed his roast, and although you can’t see it from the photo above, the beef was cooked beautifully.
I had been tempted by the roast beef as well, but decided to have a steak instead. I’ve enjoyed some excellent steaks on my visits to Scotland, and this one continued that trend.
The Elphinstone Hotel pride themselves on using local produce wherever possible, and the steak I had was really tender and full of flavour. So tender in fact, that I hardly need the steak knife that was provided.
I had asked for my steak to be cooked medium-rare, and the chef got it just right. A generous portion of hand-cut chips accompanied my steak, together with onion rings and mushrooms. I had ordered a Diane sauce, and a crisp mixed salad completed this delicious array of food.
Both of our main courses were absolutely delicious, and the portion sizes very generous. But we still managed to find a little room for pudding!
The dessert menu at the Elphinstone is fairly small, but features some delicious options. You can choose from various hot puddings, cheesecakes and local Biggar ice-cream.
Mark originally picked the scrumptious-sounding Strawberry and Prosecco ice-cream from the set menu, but unfortunately it was sold out.
His second choice was Tiramisu, which arrived on a plate laden with ice-cream, whipped cream and crisp biscuit.
Mark usually lets me steal some of his dessert so that I can write about it in my reviews. But he finished this plateful off without me getting even a taste, so I think we can assume that it tasted really good!
Mind you, I was very happy tucking into my own dessert.
I’d picked the apple pie, but this was no ordinary apple pie. This had a crumbly short pastry case filled with cooked apple and custard, then topped with crumble and a caramel topping.
It was served warm, with local Biggar vanilla ice-cream and a wafer biscuit, and it was absolutely delicious.
Our meal was complimentary, but the bill would have come to around £40. This price includes two courses for both of us, with Mark picking from the Sunday set menu, but doesn’t include drinks.
I have to say that after so much delicious food, I was very happy that we were staying at the Elphinstone, and only needed to walk upstairs to our cosy room for the night.
But whether you are staying at the Elphinstone Hotel or just passing through, I would definitely recommend calling into this cosy inn for a delicious meal.
The Elphinstone Hotel
145 High Street, Biggar, ML12 6DL
Tel: 01899 220044