Be beside yourself with joy at The Deli Next Door

I’m a simple soul. That’s to say my mood depends almost entirely on the quality of food on offer.

And right now, on a dreich January afternoon in Kelso, I find myself in high spirits thanks to Scott Hunter of The Deli Next Door.

The name is a trifle misleading: this place is part deli, part French-style bistro. But don’t be fooled. Modest Mr Hunter – who sticks to his kitchen – is a man of many talents.

Quite apart from running a fine butcher’s (next door), he has the creative flair and nous required to transport the unsuspecting Scot to a bouchon lyonnais. (He revamped the premises himself.)

To top it all, Monsieur Le Chef has fine taste in music – Jacques Loussier cannot be enjoyed in your average eatery. At least, not around here.

The Deli Next Door (since we must call it that) opened on September 15th 2021. It was one of those happy byproducts of the pandemic. Yet more than four months on, I can’t find it on Crabtree & Crabtree’s local eatery list. Or on Tripadvisor’s top rankings. Which shows we visitors must follow our noses.

Still, today’s lunch was all the better for being serendipitous. (Like my foray into the local independent bookshop, 20 Storey.) I was lured in by the attractive green facade, cleanly lettered, and the dimly lit interior (of tiles, wood, mirrors and black and white photographs.)

The well-padded wooden pews were apparently salvaged from a neighbouring church. And, as I later discover, the brown paint in the loos is still drying.

What really made me dither was not so much the decor as the sight of a sizeable goat’s cheese pie, perfectly browned and crusty. It sat tantalisingly on a counter top, but seemed an unnecessary extravagance at £9. (There was food at home.)

So, after contemplating a morsel of bonnet, I plumped for coffee instead. That way I could mull over the cheddar too. But the cheese was soon forgotten. Since a friendly waitress brought a menu featuring ‘crispy duck leg, Lyonnaise salad and
frites’. So I caved and rang my husband. After all, it was nearly midday.

My husband’s duck was delectable (it fell off the bone). And so were the truffly frites, once dunked in (fresh salty) mayonnaise. The gruyere-laden French onion soup proved somewhat tricky to negotiate whilst balancing a fidgety baby. (The bobbing hunks of bread reminded me of rubber ducks.)

However, my soup seemed authentic and left ample room for a pastel de nata or (as it happened) tip-top brownie. (Has Tarte au citron had its day?) We will, I suspect, be returning for lunch tomorrow.

To fully appreciate Mr Hunter’s wine, which looks promising judging by the elegant display out back. After all, the good things in life must be enjoyed… à tout prix.

The Deli Next Door, 44 Bridge St, Kelso, TD5 7JD

01573 223322