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The Lothians: Where to eat and drink

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Merryhatton Garden Centre, East Fortune

Merryhatton Garden Centre is a four star attraction and was named Best Eatery in a Visitor Attraction in the East Lothian Food & Drink Awards. This comes as no surprise given that it uses fresh ingredients from suppliers like Belhaven Smokehouse and Whitecross Quality Butchers. Its Scottish afternoon tea includes delights like smoked salmon and cream cheese wrap, haggis bon bons and a “jammy piece” followed by sweet treats like treacle scone and Scottish cranachan and raspberry sable – delicious! It also has a great shop with everything from home essentials to fantastic gifts.

Price: £

Where: Merryhatton Garden Centre,
11 Holding, East Fortune, North Berwick, EH39 5JS

Tel: 01620 880278


Gigi’s, Bonnyrigg

This Italian eatery has good food, a great vibe and friendly, dedicated staff.

Price: ££

Where: Gigi’s Restaurant, 72-74 Lothian Street, Bonnyrigg, EH19 3AQ 

Tel: 0131 6606906


Open Arms Hotel, Dirleton

Overlooking 13th Century Dirleton Castle and within easy reach of golden beaches and great golf courses, this hotel and its restaurants are a real gem. Diners can go for the brightly informal Deveau’s Brasserie or choose a more sophisticated dining experience in the library where they’ll be wowed by the delicious and imaginative dishes on offer, all prepared with the best possible local produce. Among the tempting treats are the rich and creamy Open Arms mussel and onion stew or the braised blade of John Gilmour’s Border beef with beetroot crust, Dauphinoise potato and artichoke puree. Vegetarians can feast on equally exquisite fare like the savoury pumpkin pie with winter greens or roasted butternut squash, chestnut mushroom and spinach risotto with shaved Parmesan. Winter or summer, formal or informal, the Open Arms is a great place to dine. When the snow is falling, you can enjoy your liqueurs by a roaring fire and on balmy evenings retire to the pretty courtyard. You won’t be disappointed.

Price: ££

Where: Open Arms, Main Street, Dirleton EH39 5EG

Tel: 01620 850241


Osteria, North Berwick

An “Osteria” in Italy was originally a family-run eatery serving simple food and wine. The menus were likely to be short with the focus on local specialities such as pasta, grilled meat and fish. The father-and-daughter owners of this award-winning restaurant have taken that meaning to a whole new level serving finest Italian cuisine using quality Scottish produce.

Price: £££

Where: 71 High Street, North Berwick, EH39 4HG

Tel: 01620 890589


The Terrace, Livingston

Study this eatery well, it’s a former Scottish Restaurant of the Year which boasts good food matched by its equally good prices. Sounds too good to be true? Well, it’s not. The Terrace is a training restaurant for hospitality students who, supervised by expert chefs, serve high-standard cuisine in a professional manner. We recommend advance booking!

Price: ££

Where: Terrace Restaurant, Almondvale Crescent, Livingston, EH54 7EP

Tel: 01506 427537


Sheriffhall Cafe, Dalkeith

If you’re looking for a friendly cafe, with a warm welcome and good, simple food made to order at hard-to-beat prices, then look no further. This wee gem takes a bit of beating. Family-run Sheriffhall caters for everyone, from grannies to toddlers and people with disabilities. You can get a burger here for just £2 and hot specials like lasagne start at £4.95.

Price: £

Where: Lowes Fruit Farm, Old Dalkeith Road, EH22 1RS

Tel: 0131 663 2726

Karma Whitburn_20279882

Karma, Whitburn

This fabulous Indian restaurant has had more awards than it’s had hot dinners – well, almost! Karma was last year’s winner of the The British Curry Awards/Best In Scotland title, having taken the same gong in 2015 and 2013. It was also a finalist in the 2014 and 2012 contests. On top of that it was awarded a coveted AA Rosette in 2010/11 and again in 2011/12 – one of only two Indian restaurants in Scotland to land the accolade. And it took the Eat Scotland Silver award four years on the trot, along with The Hungry House Scottish Curry Awards in 2011 and 2013. Its success is hardly surprising. Karma has been operating Indian restaurants since 1976, so it knows a thing or two about great Asian cuisine and fine service.

Price: ££

Where: West Main Street, Whitburn, EH47 0QR

Tel: 01501 744 024


Leadburn Inn, Leadburn nr Penicuik

You’ll find a warm welcome at the award-winning Leadburn. Its new owners have refurbished the main bar to provide a cosy, informal haven in which customers can relax. It’s also dog-friendly with a dedicated snug where you and your pooch can feel at home. And kids will go wild for the Inn’s Big Bear Fun House, which means that while they play – monitored on CCTV – you can enjoy a little “down time”. The prices won’t break the bank either – a Big Bear two-course adult meal costs only £10, while in the grown-up areas a Friday steak night will set you back £30 for two steaks and a bottle of wine.

Price: ££

Where: The Leadburn Inn, Leadburn near Penicuik, Midlothian, EH46 7BE

Tel:  01968 676077

Scone Spy Recommends…

(Andrew Cawley)
(Andrew Cawley)

Dunbar Garden Centre

“I love this bright and airy conservatory cafe. It’s the kind of place you could while away too much time doing nothing and eating way too much. So that’s exactly what we do. The scones here are delicious with a capital ‘D’. We choose the cheese variety which are melt in the mouth 

Where: EH42 1BF

Taste Cafe, Linlithgow

“A great place to break for a coffee and a scone after visiting nearby Linlithgow Palace. “This eatery is set in the building of a former bakery which centuries ago served the kings and queens of Linlithgow Palace. And we believe you’ll dine like royalty if you visit.

“Delicous soups, sandwiches and light bites, and its fruit scones are fabulous – especially when served warm on request. This place also has a great delicatessen.”

Where:  EH49 7ED 

Buttercup Café North Berwick

“This is such a popular little cafe you might struggle to find a seat. It’s worth peservering though. The sandwiches and homebakes here are delicious but it is the scones that come top of the pops for us.

“There are the traditional plain and fruit varieties, but occasional specials include coconut and chocolate with clotted cream or coconut and cherry, as well as apple and cinammon.”

Where: EH39 4HE

Cafe on the Corner, Musselburgh

“Prepare to loosen your belt! There’s so much that’s tasty in this cafe, you will want to sample it all. How about the pecan and white chocolate homebake? Or the lemon and coconut fudge? This scone spy die hard opted to try not one, but two scones – cherry and cheese. Both were lip-smacking good. This place is cosy and friendly.”

Where: EH21 7AH 


Want to explore more of Scotland? Head to our Scottish Gems section.