The Allan Ramsay Hotel is in a blink-and-youâ€™ll miss it location, on the side of the A720 at Carlops, around 15 minutes from the Edinburgh bypass.
Its cosy atmosphere, steeped in history, make it a joy to escape the biting wind, blowing off the Pentlands behind, and have long made the hotel a favourite meeting place and finishing stop for walkers.
In fact, the hotel is the starting point for a series of trails and walks of differing lengths and muddy-ness and helpfully sells leaflets with well-marked routes from 60 minutes to several hours. Some of the walks pass places of interest mentioned in The Gentle Shepherd, a play written in 1725 by Allan Ramsay, which was highly successful.
And a good walk is made all the better by a drink and meal at the end of it, however, my daughter and I eschewed all exercise and drove directly there (although we did visit The Polish map at Eddleston after â€“ a fascinating map of Scotland with mountains and rivers in miniature).
We turned up hungry all the same, and quickly decided on mozzarella, tomato and pesto salad, followed by a Ramsay burger, with cheese, mayonnaise and hand cut twice cooked chips (very crispy), for my daughter; and pigeon breast, smoked bacon and black pudding salad, followed by roast chicken with all the trimmings for me.
The salads were incredibly fresh and nicely presented â€“ you canâ€™t go too wrong with a salad. A touch more pesto would have injected a bit more flavour to the mozzarella and tomato combo and the bread mentioned on the menu never materialised â€“ to be honest, we didnâ€™t chase it up either.
The pigeon breast was succulent and I thoroughly enjoyed my starter â€“ a classic combination which works every time.
The mains were good honest traditional fare. My daughter devoured most of her burger, but with 8 oz of beef in the hand-made patty, struggled to finish it. The bun was perfectly toasted and stuffed with fresh tomato and rocket.
All in all, a satisfying meal which left us full but not uncomfortably stuffed. We opted for coffee instead of desserts, however these looked varied and what youâ€™d expect from a traditional former coaching inn â€“ sticky toffee pudding, fruit crumble, ice cream sundae.
A visit for lunch or dinner, combined with a walk, or just a nosey around the bar area to read the boards about Allan Ramsay, his portrait artist son, also Allan, is a lovely way to while away a day with the golden colours of autumn as a backdrop. Just remember to check out the â€œpenny barâ€ when youâ€™re there â€“ made of one penny coins dating back to Queen Victoriaâ€™s time.
2 courses Â£16.00
The Allan Ramsay Hotel, Carlops, Penicuik, EH26 9NF.Â Tel. 01968 660 258.
The Allan Ramsay Hotel is hosting the Allan Ramsay Festival on 18-19 October. Music and storytelling workshops, a folk night and dinner accompanied by the music of Burns and Ramsay, will take place over the course of the festival. More information can be found here: https://www.allanramsayhotel.com/