“There he got out the luncheon-basket - a yard of long French bread, a sausage out of which the garlic sang, some cheese which lay down and cried, and a long-necked straw-covered flask wherein lay bottled sunshine shed and garnered on far Southern slopes”
from The Wind in the Willows
The aim of Badger & Co is to allow the guest “to embark on an adventure into the pleasures of food, drink and all things fun.” Enter the world of Toad, Rat, Mole and Badger in the wild wood and riverbank.
On arrival around 7.30pm, Ken and I were keen to enjoy a leisurely aperitif in the Bar before dinner but this intimate wee space with a few stools was crowded with happy drinkers. A good sign indeed of a popular place. So the hostess led us through to the Restaurant next door and given a window table. While the artistic design is charming and reminiscent of a Gentleman’s Club with armchairs and booths, our small table was difficult to sit at comfortably due to the central pedestal which gets in the way of knees and ankles!
The Cocktail list is quirky with inventive names in keeping with the literary theme: Pimms in the Willows, Picnic on the Banks and Badger’s Burrow. Ken selected The Wayfarer, a rich smoky concoction of Jonny Walker Black label, Ardbeg 10, a splash of Rare Red IPA and flavoured with black walnut and bitters. As a Martini aficionado, I sipped a Forage and Fortify, (Tanqueray 10, Sipsmiths Damson Vodka, Lillet Blanc, Grapefruit Bitters – like a modern take on James Bond’s Vesper it’s elegantly divine.
Now it’s time to look at the Dinner menu. In keeping with the vintage era, there are British Edwardian homely dishes such as Steak and Kidney roly poly pudding, Toad in the Hole and classic Pies. Produce is sourced locally and across Scotland such as Borders Lamb and Scrabster Sole.
My dining companion chose Finnan Haddie Pie to start, which was very tasty with a mountain of mash on top - more like a main course portion. Meanwhile I had a equally generous platter of Wild Mushrooms on toasted brioche. Devilled Mushrooms is a traditional breakfast dish but works fine as a starter although the oil of the sauteed fungi makes the toast a tad soggy.
This is a Carnivore's paradise - Duck Pate, Game Pie, Chicken Pie, Pork Chops - with limited Vegetarian dishes and even the Scallops are wrapped in Bacon. But I did enjoy the crispy cod goujons with a side of fat hand cut chips. Meanwhile Ken had taken the Duck Eggs – like vegetarian Scotch Eggs, which unfortunately were rather tasteless and dry, served with an heirloom tomato salad. From a diverse wine list including an organic Sauvignon Blanc, we chose a bottle of Perchon Cinsault from South Africa.
The ambience is lively with laid back music and friendly, knowledgeable staff who advised on drinks and side orders. After this feast of good food, no room for Pudding but you can indulge in such childhood treats as Apple Pie and custard or Jelly and Ice cream.
“The girl returned with a cup of fragrant tea and a plate piled up with very hot buttered toast, cut thick with the butter running through the holes in great golden drops, like honey from the honeycomb”.
As well as lunch and dinner, visit Badger & Co for breakfast. As a recent visitor commented, “ I had baked beans on toast .. homemade beans topped with mushroom on brioche - just great! “
Alternatively you could dig into scrumptuous smoked salmon with scrambled eggs and crumpets – with perhaps a Bloody Mary on the side.
“The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings”
There have been many 4 and 5 star reviews from the public in recent weeks -“ .. what a great wee find, some unusual beers and ales on draught and has a hidden away beer garden.”
I think Kenneth Graham would approve of the food, drink and sense of literary tradition at Badger & Co!