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Cafe Sitooterie, Innerleithen Restaurant Review

Cat Thomson heads into the great outdoors, with a Borders jaunt for a spot of summertime lunching in Innerleithen at Cafe Sitooterie

Published: July 27, 2021

The Scots language is awfy braw at describing things, such as a bidie-in: your partner that lives with you without being married, or fantoosh, meaning showy or ostentatious, thrawn meaning stubborn.

When the occasion arises, it is also tremendous for hurling abuse and insults, with classics such as you great big galoot, glaikit bampot, dunderhead and bawbag.

And what’s not to love about the eloquent phrases, skinny malinky longlegs or peely wally?

Cafe Sitooterie, Innerleithen
Caddon view, Innerleithen

Scots, wha hae 

There are a plethora of Scottish words to describe bad weather; dreich, haar, smirr and drochit to name a few, but as it is actually summertime in Scotland, it has become apparent that there is a slight dearth of phrases for fair weather, boiling and taps aff is the best I can come up with in a rush.

As we have been experiencing unseasonably warm and pleasant weather, myself and the elder wean decided to head to Innerleithen with the firm intention of parking our bahookies outside for a spot of Sunday denner.

St Ronan

Innerleithen is a small Borders town not far from Peebles which was founded by an itinerant pilgrim monk, or Scots word alert, jaikey.

He travelled here by coracle on the River Tweed, although I’ve always pegged St Columba of Iona fame as the number one coracle man.

Cafe Sitooterie, Innerleithen
Cafe Sitooterie, Buddha bowl

In the local legend he “Cleik’t the Deil by the hind leg and banished him”, possibly a metaphor for the monks bringing Christianity to these parts, and afterwards he became known as St Ronan.

He has left us the spa waters of St Ronan’s Wells which over the years have been frequented by the likes of Sir Walter Scott, when he was a laddie and today you can pre-book yourself on a visit to the pavilion visitor centre.

Border attraction

Innerleithen also boasts of another visitor attraction, namely the fantastic Robert Smail’s Printing Works, an old timey operational printers, which is run by The National Trust for Scotland.

If you are a dare devil on two wheels there are miles of downhill mountain biking nearby to explore or injure yourself on.

Cafe Sitooterie, Innerleithen
Herb hummus Sandwich from Cafe Sitooterie, Innerleithen

For history buffs, close by there is the historic Traquair House, and if that wasn’t enough to make you want to come and visit, you can always join the back of the queue for a traditional homemade ice-cream cone from Caldwell’s.

We are heading away from any crowds to award-winning Caddonview, a small boutique hotel with and a cafe/conservatory in the garden.


I get to use one of my favourites Scots words to describe it, a sitooterie, aka a small building or area where people can sit outside and eat.

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The alternatives of conservatory, summerhouse or gazebo don’t really cut the descriptive mustard.

We entered through a gate and headed into the secret garden, with some outside tables and benches.

We had phoned ahead and booked a table in advance so all that was left to do was check in and peruse the chalkboard menu.

Cafe Sitooterie, Innerleithen
Cafe Sitooterie, Innerleithen

The Sitooterie offers a range of breakfasts options until 11 then light lunches, all inspired by what is fresh, local and seasonal.

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Evening meals by reservation are available at 7pm from Wednesday to Saturday, and on the menu the previous night had been Borders roe deer with red wine and chocolate sauce (£18.50) and apple tart and ice-cream (£6).

I went for an americano Union Coffee although my interest had been piqued by Pimms and lemonade (£5) or an elderflower prosecco cocktail (£7.50) and a small range of wine. 

If I hadn’t been driving I might just have been on for an afternoon swally in the back gairden.

The young team went for a thirst quenching Fentimans ginger beer.

Cafe Sitooterie, Innerleithen
Cafe Sitooterie, Innerleithen

You'll have had yer tea?

For a starter I selected a piping hot bowl of carrot, orange and mint soup (£5) with toast and butter, while the young ‘un ordered a herby hummus toasted sourdough sandwich which arrived with crisps and salad and a side order of olives, which was demolished and given a firm thumbs up.

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As I was enjoying the zen like calm of the outdoor experience I ordered the Buddha Bowl for my main course, which was filled to the brim with healthy goodness, containing more of that herb hummus, carrot and sultana dressed salad, harissa couscous, broccoli, charred courgette peppers and leaves galore and olives.

It was the last portion and I would have been bealin to miss out on it.

Cafe Sitooterie, Innerleithen
Icecream Sundae

My daughter couldn’t resist the ice-cream sundae for dessert, a glass tower filled with decadent chocolate brownie, scoops of both chocolate and vanilla ice-cream, seasonally sweet strawberry sauce topped with lashings of whipped cream and chopped pistachios.

The sweet menu featured everything from Bara Brith, to carrot cake, but I steamed right in and ordered hot brownie with a scoop of ice-cream. Moist, moreish, just exactly the sweet treat I want from a pudding.

A small confession, we went to this place specifically with the intention of experiencing their sitooterie, but ended up sitting in after we placed our food order. What a couple of numpties.

Cafe Sitooterie, Innerleithen
Cafe Sitooterie, Innerleithen

Cafe Sitooterie
14 Pirn Rd,
EH44 6HH

Tel: 01896 830208

•READ MORE The Traquair Arms, Innerleithen, Restaurant Review

Catriona is a freelance writer based in the Scottish Borders, and a nominee for Food and Drink writer at this year's Scottish Press Awards.

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