Discover what’s on the menu at the Stair Arms, a former coaching inn near Edinburgh
This feature refers to a visit made before the travel restrictions put in place to deal with the 2020 Covid-19 outbreak in the UK and around the world. Please take into account the advice from your local government before planning travel and click here to see the current UK government advice regarding Covid-19
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When Mark and I were invited to stay at the Stair Arms recently, we were also given the chance to sample the food in their restaurant.
We discovered that this nearly 200 year old coaching inn serves a range of hearty meals that make the best of local Scottish produce, and put their own twist on some traditional Scottish fare.
Read on to find out what tempting dishes we sampled during our visit.
How to get to the Stair Arms
The Stair Arms is a family-owned hotel, run by Carolyn Ramsay. A further six members of her family currently work at the hotel, making it a real family enterprise.
The hotel is located on the A68 around 12 miles to the South-East of Edinburgh. This makes it very easy to find, and a perfect place to break your journey if you’re heading to Edinburgh or beyond.
Mark and I arrived at the Stair Arms on a Sunday afternoon, and this hotel would be our final stop on a long weekend in Scotland.
After checking in, we were taken up to our room, which had a lovely modern look and feel. The whole of the hotel, including all 11 bedrooms, has been refurbished in a major renovation project which took place over the last four years.
There are plenty of comfortable chairs dotted around the hotel lobby, making it ideal for meeting a friend for lunch. This area is dog-friendly, so your pooch can join you for lunch as well.
And guests with a sweet tooth can also indulge in some of the hotel’s fabulous home-made cakes and sweet treats.
The hotel has a large, airy restaurant where you can enjoy lunch or dinner. There are plenty of places to sit in this sleek, modern space.
And the cocktail bar is stocked with a range of beers, wines, spirits and soft drinks.
Or if you prefer, you could enjoy a very good cup of Illy coffee from the coffee bar.
Dinner at the Stair Arms, Pathhead
When we visited the Stair Arms, the UK was just preparing to move into a period of travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
That meant that the hotel was a little quiet, although there were some people in the bar during the afternoon and a few other guests staying at the hotel as well.
So we were shown to our table, and looked through the menu. I did love the fact that there were fresh flowers on each of the tables, a lovely little touch of Spring!
The Stair Arms menu showcases the best of local produce, and changes with the seasons.
The menu includes a range of pub favourites, some traditional Scottish dishes with a modern twist, and also some imaginative dishes to try.
We ordered our food and also selected a bottle of Argentinian Malbec, which quickly arrived along with some warm home-made bread and a selection of dips.
The tomato salsa was fresh and slightly piquant, while I loved the creamy, garlicky creme fraiche dip.
Our starters arrived soon afterwards, and I was pleasantly surprised by the generous size of the portions.
Earlier in the afternoon, I had heard someone in the bar order the breaded Brie and it sounded very tempting. So I decided to pick that as my starter.
You can’t go far wrong with gooey, melted cheese and these were delicious. They arrived on a bed of salad, with some redcurrant jelly to cut through the richness of the Brie.
Meanwhile, Mark had chosen a starter that was a twist on traditional Scottish ingredients. A small pile of haggis fritters were served with a rich creamy sauce flavoured with wholegrain mustard and Glenkinchie whisky.
I sampled a bite because I love haggis, and this was a very tasty starter.
By the way, the hotel is only a 10 minute drive away from the Glenkinchie distillery. You can book in for a tour of the premises there if that interests you.
Other starters on the menu when we visited included Cullen Skink, seared scallops served with pea puree and black pudding, and a chicken liver and cognac pate served with oatcakes and cumberland sauce.
And if I thought that the starters were generously sized, then the main courses continued on that theme.
Mark had picked the Uncle Sam chicken as his main course. A tender breaded chicken breast was topped with pulled pork, cheese and crispy bacon. It came with roast cherry tomatoes and coleslaw on the side, as well as a portion of really good chips.
He let me have a little taste of the chicken and it was cooked beautifully. The meat was really moist and full of flavour.
Meanwhile I’d gone for the Stair Arms version of the traditional Sunday roast.
The star of the show was a generous portion of meltingly tender ‘low and slow’ roast beef in a rich meaty gravy. It was accompanied by a selection of vegetables, roast potatoes and an impressively large and fluffy Yorkshire pudding.
Everything on the plate was cooked beautifully and packed full of flavour. It was a very good Sunday lunch, but I have to confess that I couldn’t manage to eat it all.
Other main courses on the menu included a Brie and mushroom Wellington, a ribeye steak served with haggis fritters and whisky sauce, and salmon fillet with a grape, dill, white wine and cream sauce.
We were both so full after our main courses that we couldn’t manage dessert. The choices did sound tempting, however, with options like sticky toffee cheesecake, chocolate brownie with ice cream and a range of ice cream sundaes.
So we just had a cup of coffee before retiring to our room for a very good night’s sleep!
Dinner at the Stair Arms: Our Verdict
Our meal was complimentary, but the bill would have come to just under £40 excluding drinks. I think that is great value considering the generous portions and quality of the food.
There’s a good variety of dishes to choose from, and I particularly liked that they use traditional Scottish foods and local produce.
We really enjoyed our meal, and the service was exceptionally friendly – it really feels like a cosy place to stay.
Whether you’re just calling in for lunch or staying at the hotel overnight, the Stair Arms offers delicious food at a very reasonable price.
The Stair Arms
A68, Pathhead EH37 5TX