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Sun Inn, Dalkeith Restaurant review

Catriona Thomson dines out in the Sun Inn, Dalkeith and finds out whether, or not everything is sunny on a Sunday

Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
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As midsummer is behind us and before we dive back into the gloom of winter, I thought I would do a bit of sun worshipping and dine out at The Sun Inn, Midlothian. You know what they say, ‘Make hay while the sun shines’.

The place we are visiting is a previous winner of the AA Pub of the Year and the Scottish Gastropub of the Year, and they pride themselves on using local Scottish produce which is another plus for me.

Sun Inn Dalkeith
Sun Inn Dalkeith

Their website name checks some of their suppliers; Welch Fishmongers in Newhaven, Belhaven Smokehouse near Dunbar, Wild Tastes, George Anderson & Sons and John Gilmour, the butcher.

Walking on Sunshine

So I’m in an optimistic mood, and Katrina and the Waves are blaring from the car stereo as we head to Lothian Bridge with the fella and my elder daughter along for the ride and hungry for some Sunday dinner.

We arrived at the historic inn which is slap bang opposite an impressive 23-arch railway viaduct, which is currently in use as part of the Waverley to Tweedbank service to the Borders. (Thanks to Diane Sharp for spotting my error in print)

The Sun Inn has a stylish and modern interior and offers guests an all day range of dining options; breakfast, lunch and dinner and there are also rooms, if you don’t feel like going home.

Sun Inn Eskbank
Haggis Bon Bons


We were shown to our booth-style table in the modern terrace area by the waiter who managed to strike the right balance between efficiency and friendliness.

The dining room was quite busy for Sunday evening, and filled with a mixture of family groups and couples. While we all got our bearings and perused the menu, we ordered drinks.

Stewart Brewing’s Pentland IPA, £5.95 ale for Sir, which he claimed had slight fruity tones and a fresh hoppy character, while I was on the diet coke, £1.75.

The Terrace Special menu offered beef tartare, king prawn crevettes, Sun Inn pâté, whitebait, roast chicken, and a pricey £24 pig on a plate as options.

Sun Inn Dalkeith
Pea risotto with pearly barley and crispy avocado.

However it was the pea risotto, £15, which caught my eye for my main course. The daube of beef, £17, was just what the fella fancied, while the regular lunch menu offerings captured the taste buds of my elder daughter. 

She ordered the tempura battered asparagus wrapped in Parma ham with chive Hollandaise and a poached egg for her starter, £9.

She followed that up with a small portion of beer battered haddock served with triple fried chips, mushy peas, lemon and tartar sauce, £12.

Bread and butter

To stave off my hunger pangs I ordered one of the snack dishes, focaccia served with a tomato, garlic and parsley dip served with Edinburgh Butter Company salted butter, £4.50.

The slice of Italian-style bread slice was nice, but if I’m being picky it had spent a bit too long in the oven, and while the Edinburgh butter roundel looked pretty, as did the miniature copper pan filled with tomato salsa, the proportions of the dish were all wrong.

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Sun Inn Eskbank
Focaccia with Sun Inn tomato sauce and cultured butter from Edinburgh butter company

There was way too much sauce, and not enough bread and although I attempted to smear as much butter as I could onto the bread, there was no danger that I would ever be able to finish it.

The fella had more success with his trio of crisp Hornigs haggis bon bons, £4, which easily soaked up the moreish curry sauce.

Our offspring quite happily crunched her way through her tender asparagus dish starter, her poached egg done to a turn and a jaunty pea shoot sprig decorating the dish perfectly.

Green Goddess

My main course did not disappoint. It was a verdant vision of verdigris, possibly something the Incredible Hulk would scoff after flying off into one of his incandescent rages or a plate that Diana Moran, aka the Green Goddess, would nibble on. 

However, I was underwhelmed by the overall taste. The pearl barley base was bland and it could have been seasoned more, while the chunks of battered and fried avocado did nothing much to elevate the dish apart from giving it some height.

On a positive note it counted towards my five vegetable portions a day tally.

Had your chips

My daughter also struggled through her fish and chips, thanking her lucky stars that she hadn’t opted for the larger portion.

Everything was too crisp.

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Sun Inn Eskbank
Small portion of fish and chips with marrowfat peas and horseradish sauce served at Sun Inn Eskbank

Once again the fella lucked out with his slow-cooked daube of beef, served with horseradish mash, honey roast carrot broccoli and a fine red wine jus which was more of the standard that we expected.

We hedged our bets and decided to share desserts, ordering only two. To our delight they more than made up for any main course disappointment. 

Just desserts

The lemon tart, £8, served with raspberry coulis and fresh raspberries was pudding perfection, as was the divine Eton mess.

Sun Inn Eskbank
Lemon tart

We could not decide which part, meringue, Chantilly cream or fresh strawberries was our favourite bit, £8.

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All that was left was to settle the bill and reflect on the score. I think perhaps it had been an off day in the kitchen.

A bit like little Orphan Annie, I’m an optimist who is willing to bet my bottom dollar that, ‘The Sun’ll come out tomorrow’ and shine.

The Sun Inn
Lothian Bridge
EH22 4TR

Tel:0131-663 2456

Catriona is a freelance writer based in the Scottish Borders, and a nominee for Food and Drink writer at this year's Scottish Press Awards.
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