Now that we’ve settled into our new house, we’ve been for a few walks down to Dalkeith Country Park and enjoyed wandering around. We had heard good things about the Courtyard and the renovations which had taken place over the last year or so. The Restoration Yard Dalkeith is now home to the loveliest gift shop I have seen in a long time, it’s full of beautiful high quality gifts. Which also means lots of lovely bits and pieces I would love for myself. Once you’ve walked around the gift shop you’ll then find yourself in the food shop and cafe area. Each time we’ve been down the cafe has been a hive of activity and perfect for those wanting a quick and tasty bite to eat before or after their walks. Artisan food products – perfect for gifts and special occasions – also adorn the Food Hall, from specialty chocolates to unique teas and coffees. A smaller sit-in (or take away) Coffee Bar here offers a quick and casual space for up to 35 to enjoy a selection of teas, coffee, soft drinks, as well as pastries and sweet treats, freshly-made sandwiches and salads.
On this occasion we were down to visit the glass-walled restaurant space looking out across the river Esk and on to the new Fort Douglas. The restaurant really is a beautiful space and they have made excellent use of it. Your food is served on banquettes and bibelot tables that feature personal items from the Buccleuch family homes.
If watching the professionals at works is your thing then there is the long, open kitchen as you walk in the door. Hand-blown lights, sheepskins and specially-made glass display cabinets also form focal points as does a communal table made from Cedar wood sourced from the Estate itself. With all these beautiful touches, we couldn’t wait to get settled down and browse the menu. The restaurant was pretty busy, even for half 2 on a Sunday. Lots of groups of friends and families around the place. It was busy but the layout means even when it’s busy it doesn’t feel crowded.
The menu takes inspiration from its surroundings, with a commitment to keeping the offering as local as possible. Produce is sourced from Dalkeith Country Park, local providers and Park’s sister Estates – Bowhill in Selkirk and Drumlanrig in Dumfries & Galloway – and even the Duke of Buccleuch’s garden at his private home to ensure fresh daily seafood specials, seasonal meat and game and organic eggs and salad leaves. We love a local menu and had high hopes the dishes would taste as fresh as they sounded. The menu is compact with 4-5 offerings per course and it caters for all sorts of tastes and requirements. It took us a while to decide what we wanted as lots of the dishes we would easily order.
It was spicy sweet potato soup for Mr E and I ordered the Grilled Edinburgh gin prawns, avocado, heritage tomato, lemon dressing. Both of the dishes arrived in a splash of colour and the grilled prawns gave off an amazing grilled smell. We couldn’t wait to tuck in. The soup was good, well seasoned and a lovely texture. The homemade bread served with it was fresh and sticky, how white bread should be. The Edinburgh gin prawns were delicious a hint of gin could be tasted and it was careful not to overpower the taste of the prawns. An excellent sized portion, perfect for a starter. I’m not a huge avocado fan and didn’t think it added much to the dish, I would have been happy with the prawns and salad but others who are fans may have other thoughts. After a great start to our meal we were eager to see what our mains would be like.
Main course was a bit of throwback to our wedding and honeymoon. Mr E ordered Braised beef cheeks with creamy mashed potato & seasonal vegetables and I had venison ragu with a parsley pesto, mushrooms and carrots. Both dishes for us hold lovely memories and these lived up to our expectations. The braised beef cheek was tender and juicy and lots of it. It was so tender there was no need for a knife. Mr E happily tucked in commenting how well seasoned the meat was and the seasonal veg and mash were great. The gravy served with his dish was rich and added depth to the dish. My venison ragu was a jam packed with flavour. The venison and the flavours from the carrots, mushrooms and pesto were excellent. The juice from the venison was well flavoured and seasoned. I honestly couldn’t fault the dish. Between the slow cooked venison and the pasta everything was a taste sensation. I was glad I was feeling a tad greedy and ordered the larger portion.
With a little room left, we squeezed in a dessert each. I honestly don’t know how we had the room but I think the desserts on offer were just too tempting. Mr E was tempted by the Restoration hive honey cheesecake, made from a hive on the estate, and the Dark chocolate tart with clotted cream, bramble jam & pistachio crisp caught my eye. Again both dishes hit the spot. The cheesecake was light and a hint of honey could be tasted, it wasn’t sickly sweet but left a lingering taste of sweetness. My chocolate tart was delicious. The pastry base of the tart was thin and crispy, the jam on the tart side and all added together was lovely. I don’t know how to describe the tart and do it justice. The richness of the dark chocolate worked well with the bitterness of the jam and had disappeared before I knew it.
The service and quality of food at the restaurant is excellent. Each dish came out freshly prepared and well presented. We loved each dish we had and would easily order them again without any hesitation. The space is beautiful and the care and attention which has gone into the renovation of the stables and courtyards also transfers into their food. We both thought the price of the food was reflected in the quality and we will definitely be back. It really is an excellent place to fuel up after or before a walk around the country park.
The Restoration Yard | Dalkeith Country Park, Dalkeith EH22 2NA | Tel: 0131 654 1666 |