The Sheep Heid Inn for a great pub lunch

The Sheep Heid Inn is located in Duddingston Village and stands near Arthur’s seat. It’s a popular stopping place for those who have been walking over the hills. Unless you’re after a hike of your own, a visit on wheels (we caught Lothian number 42) is probably necessary. Even though The Sheep Heid Inn’s service was lacklustre their food certainly wasn’t. Infact, The Sheep Heid Inn fed The Edinburgh Blog perhaps the best pub lunch to be had in Edinburgh.

Scottish Venison Sausages & Mash at The Sheep Heid Inn, Edinburgh

The Sheep Heid Inn make a lot of their history. It’s Scotland’s oldest surviving public house, with a pub standing on The Causeway since at least 1360. Walking along The Causeway, past a plethora of nice homes, I was slightly underwhelmed by The Sheep Heid Inn’s appearance; perhaps I was expecting it to look a lot older than it did. However the history of The Sheep Heid Inn is fascinating, some of which is shared on their functional website and some is described in The Sheep Heid Inn’s menu. It would be great if their website was updated with more historical tales and images from the pub’s past. Although I didn’t see it The Sheep Heid Inn has a skittle alley, which is reputed to be the oldest working skittle alley in the world. This can be hired out for parties or paid for by the hour/evening. It is used by The Trotters Club who meet at The Sheep Heid Inn’s skittle alley every month.

Sheep Heid Inn, Edinburgh exterior Home-made Steak & Sheep Heid Ale Pie at The Sheep Heid Inn, Edinburgh

Following advice on The Sheep Heid Inn’s website we reserved a table for Sunday lunch. A sign in the cosy, old style and very welcoming downstairs pub said food was only being served upstairs. We made our short ascent, taking in the masses of historical photographs and collectible items which line every wall in this pub. The upstairs restaurant was atmospherically lit. It provided a real country pub feel and allowed me to relax knowing I was outside of the city centre of Edinburgh. We took our seat and browsed The Sheep Heid Inn’s menu. This was split into four sections: Something Smallish (soup, mushrooms, ciabatta), Something Scottish (venison sausages, haggis neeps and tatties, salmon), Something Substantial (haddock and chips, ravioli, Aberdeen Angus beef burgers) and Something Sweet (apple pie, fudge-cake). A Sunday roast (¬£7.50 I think) was also on offer, as were sandwiches. Pretty much everything you would expect from a good Scottish pub.

The Sheep Heid Inn seemed understaffed. The table next to us took a long time to be cleared and it took over 20 minutes from taking our seats, ’til an obviously harassed (yet still polite) waitress took our order. It was a long wait until our drinks turned up, meaning it was over 30 minutes before any of the pub’s products were on our table. However, when my venison sausages and mash (¬£7.95) and my dining partner’s home made steak and sheep heid ale pie (¬£7.50) finally arrived it proved definitely worth the wait.

All of The Sheep Heid Inn’s food was absolutely delicious. I was still thinking about and singing the praises of the excellent venison sausages and mash days after consuming the dish. The onion gravy was absolutely perfect and this blended well with three succulent venison sausages, which lay on a bed of perfectly textured and flavoured mash potato. A sprinkling of juniper berries finished the dish off well.

My dining partner’s steak and ale pie was very decent, although I did find the red and yellow pepper which accompanied the courgette and broccoli a little random. For those of you who read the blog regularly this might sound like a broken record, however I really would like some pub to serve a steak and ale pie which isn’t a block of puff pastry dropped on top of the steak and ale mix. The Sheep Heid Inn was no different to most other pubs in this respect. Still, the steak was cooked very well and the taste was very good. Nice baby potatoes provided the perfect and very filling accompaniment.

Not wanting to miss the hourly bus back into central Edinburgh (especially given the difficulty attracting the staff’s attention) we decided to skip dessert. After a while I resorted to giving one of the waitresses a wave, which after a few attempts, did the trick. A couple of mints were left along with our very good value for money bill.

Just visiting The Sheep Heid Inn is a great experience and one that every Edinburgh resident should have on their must-do list. It’s great for food and the downstairs bar looks great for drinks; it’s clear the bars owner cares deeply about the history and upkeep of this pub. And in an age of chain pubs and designer pubs it’s great to escape somewhere like The Sheep Heid Inn.

I think downstairs is preferable to upstairs (presumably on Sundays food is served upstairs only to cope with the higher number of bookings). I would like to have a few drinks and food one evening in the downstairs bar. Although the layout and homely feel means I could soon get settled in for a nights session and struggle to get home! The Sheep Heid Inn’s summer barbecue and an opportunity to use their beer garden, also sounds appealing.

If The Sheep Heid Inn wasn’t so far away I’d likely become a regular. A definite must visit.

The Sheep Heid Inn is located at 43-45 The Causeway, Duddingston, Edinburgh, EH15 3QA. Contact them to book a table or for more information on 0131 656 6951.

4 Responses to “The Sheep Heid Inn for a great pub lunch”

  1. Wow! the food looks delicious!

  2. I really enjoyed reading this piece about the Sheep Heid, it took me back to several visits there in the past. Not only is the pub so interesting and historic, it’s tucked away in one of my favourite little corners of Scotland. Duddingston and The Sheep Heid are places I always try to drop by if I’m visiting back home.

    Great site. I shall definitely be back for a further look around.

    Best wishes


  3. Aye,Venison Bangers and Mash wi pink pepper. Oh my was that good. I wish I could lunch there everyday!

  4. Fiona Macleod on March 3rd, 2011 at 12:33 am

    Don’t Ask for a Bottle of Wine!!

    Not sure if there has been a change in Management but whilst the food was okay as pub food goes the service was dismal. There was one waitress who was trying to do her best under very difficult circumatances BUT she was clearly harassed! Consequently service was slow! We also tried to order some wine from the limited wine list to be told only the cheapest 2 on the list were available - on the basis that this pub fluants itself as a quality pub dining experience we opened the bottle and poured three glasses - it was RANK! We complained but no-one came to answer our complaint and because there appeared to be no wine in stock a fresh bottle wasn’t offered BUT we were charged for the privilage. Our poor waitress agreed that we could drink our own bottle which my Mother had bought from good old M&S! As it happens, we paid ¬£75 for 3 starters and 4 main courses and the rank bottle of wine - we couldn’t bear the potential wait for coffees etc. Had the wine been ok - we’d have probably had 2 bottles and coffee and liquers taking the bill to well over ¬£150 which we’d have happily paid if this pub had lived up to its own hype! It is not beyond the competence of most high street pubs to offer a selection of drinkable wines at profit - the sheep’s heid clearly holds it’s customers in very low regard to offer such putrid and rancid bevarages. This pub is clearly trading on its location and history - I won’t be recommending it!!

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