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The newly refurbished Sheep Heid Inn is set to reopen this weekend. Boasting the status of Scotland’s oldest surviving public house (dating back to the 1300s) and its very own vintage skittle alley, this cosy traditional pub is nestled away at the foot of Arthur’s Seat.
I was invited* to attend with three guests to try their new menu ahead of their official launch at a special evening service for press and bloggers.
The canapes started the evening strong – with goats cheese curd and duck liver parfait for the others (all the dairy!) and aubergine canapes for me with a lovely chutney and tapenade.
Selections were made for the salt & szechuan pepper squid served with aioli, the lamb koftas and crispy brie. Appreciative murmurs rippled round the table – particularly from Amy who was served what can only be described as a ‘hunk’ of brie coated in crispy breadcrumbs fresh from the fryer. The squid was as crispy as you’d hope for and was laced with a healthy dose of garlic which I wasn’t expecting but was a pleasant surprise (especially as I had to forego the aioli). The lamb koftas, I’m told, were unexpectedly sweet and came with an excessively large garnish of wraps and a salad. Less is more sometimes.
It’s worth noting for those with dietary requirements that they have an extensive folder of every item on the menu with the list of allergens which you’re free to browse to see what you can and can’t have.
For the main courses, there were two clear winners – lamb and steak.
Two of us went for the lamb rack which was served with aubergine, roasted red pepper, potato dauphinoise and red wine jus. There was a bit of a discord with this dish – I had swapped out the dauphinoise for chips due to the dairy which I was glad about. Mixing a roasted rack of lamb with Mediterranean vegetables, a creamy potato dish and then a traditional red wine and mint jus just didn’t seem to marry for me. I think either go down the Mediterranean route and serve with cous cous or go down the traditional route and serve with some seasonal vegetables. With the rich red wine jus, I’d suggest the latter. That being said, the lamb was flavourful and was cooked the medium rare I requested. One of the racks was a little on the chewy side but the other was perfect.
The other two went for ribeye steak served with chunky chips, crispy onions, grilled mushroom, confit tomato and baby kale. Neither had any complaints but nor were they overly excited by their dishes. Perhaps a little on the pricy side for an average steak but we were willing to give them the benefit of opening weekend doubt. Hopefully with the feedback they receive from the press night and soft launch they can iron out all the kinks.
Where they excelled, however, were the desserts. Three of the four of us had space for more and we mulled over the menus for a while before making our decisions. Something that’s great that they offer is a ‘Mini dessert and hot drink’ for those who can’t quite fit a whole pudding but want a little something sweet to finish off their meal – and can choose from a brownie, cheesecake or a crumble to have with a tea or coffee. I’m told it was very good, she didn’t elaborate as it’s mean to taunt someone who can’t have any dairy about how good a cheesecake is! Similarly the sticky toffee pudding was “excellent” – and came from self-pronounced STP expert who always chooses to order it if it’s on the menu. Now, for someone who can’t have dairy or eggs I’m often faced with “… Err we have sorbet!” Which is sadly the most unimaginative vegan dessert going. So to be given five, yes, five options for pudding there was no way I was missing out! I went for the pineapple tart tatin served with mango and coconut milk sorbet (told you so) which was lovely and creamy so didn’t taste like a fruity sorbet. The pastry was flaky with caramelised pieces of pineapple laid in, it was the perfect end to the evening. They really saved the best for last.
Despite the teething issues with some of the menu / cooking it’s still somewhere I would recommend – particularly on the weekend before or after walk around Arthur’s seat or Duddingston Loch. They also have a newly refurbished outdoor area which will be perfect in the coming spring and summer months!
*I was invited for a complimentary meal for myself and my guests for the purpose of this review. But as always, all words, thoughts, (probably spelling mistakes as I’m knackered from being out past my bedtime last night!) opinions and constructive criticism is entirely my own.