Greywalls ‘new’ roast lunches are a return to what the classic East Lothian country house hotel has been doing superbly for more than a century, writes editor Richard Bath.

THERE is something quintessentially civilised about Greywalls, the gorgeous Lutyens arts and crafts mansion in Gullane that sits amid sumptuous gardens designed by Gertrude Jekyll and was home to Spitfire pilots in the Second World War. Sitting in the dining room of this Edwardian country house hotel – which was built within a mashie niblick shot of the 18th green at Muirfield at the insistence of its original owner, the Honourable Alfred Lyttleton – you’re yards from one of the best golf courses on Earth. There’s a palpable sense that you’re somewhere pretty memorable.

I’ve long been a fan of this East Lothian institution, and have watched it go through several culinary iterations. Currently run by Inverlochy Castle Management International (along with Inverlochy Castle in Fort William, Crossbasket Castle outside Glasgow, and Rocpool Reserve in Inverness) its kitchens are one of several around Scotland under the umbrella of Michel Roux Jr’s staff (as is the Andy Murray-owned Cromlix House near Dunblane).

In a bid to pep up its lunch trade in the face of a growing number of eateries in the village – as well as legendary fine dining restaurant La Potiniere and the Old Clubhouse gastropub, there are newcomers such as Tom Kitchin’s The Bonnie Badger and The Watchman – Greywalls has reinstituted roast lunches on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

On a dreich Friday lunchtime, we made our way out to Greywalls and were pleased to find that reassuringly little has changed, with the same timeless atmosphere, roaring fire and walls strewn with a mix of traditional Highlands scenes and Vanity Fair prints. The one major change, however, was the lunch menu, which has been completely overhauled.

We started with cream of cauliflower soup with a soft poached egg and trompettes (£10) and an Ottolenghi-esque dish of soft goats curd with onion squash, pumpkin seed brittle and fresh figs (£12). Both were excellent; the soup a small but filling dish bursting with flavours, the goats curd a marked departure from the usual country house fare but all the better for it.

For our main course I chose the Friday option of rare breed pork porcetta (£18.95), presumably from nearby Ballencrieff (Saturday’s menu features roast chicken, with beef on Sunday). Pork porchetta is an authentically Italian pork roast made from pork belly roll and loin, and at its best is wonderfully succulent. Luckily this ticked all the boxes and came with a large mis-shapen Yorkshire pudding, a square slab of fondant potato, buttered carrots, broccoli and a jug of gravy, which was beautifully rich but (and here comes a regular whinge) far too small.

Our other main course was a fresh tagliatelle with woodland mushrooms and black truffle (£18.95), which – judging from its disappearance with indecent haste – passed muster.

We almost skipped pudding but were glad we didn’t. The dark chocolate cremeux with poached prunes, caramel tuille and Balvenie whisky ice cream (£9.75) was as good a dessert as I’ve had this year.

All in all, the return of the roast is a welcome return to past glories for Greywalls, a place that knows a little about being a timeless classic.

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