Scotsman Review
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August 15, 2021

Dolly's Tea room, Roslin Restaurant Review 

Cat Thomson visits Roslin in Midlothian to investigate the crime of the century, and samples lunch from Dolly's Tea room.

There have been hard times in the hospitality sector recently and I get slightly peeved when I hear about diners not showing for reservations at restaurants.

How difficult is it to phone or text or email to say your plans have changed? I also got a bit cross recently when I discovered a couple had done a runner from a local place called Dolly's Tea Room in Roslin.

The perpetrators were a middle aged pair so they couldn’t use the excuse of having a senior moment, and accidentally ‘forgetting’ the bill.

Da Vinci Code

So I’ve decided to investigate this crime of the century with a visit to the aforementioned tea room with my elder daughter.

Dolly's Tea Room Roslin
Dolly's Tea Room Roslin

Roslin is home to Rosslyn Chapel, which came to the fore courtesy of Dan Brown’s novel and later the film The Da Vinci Code which starred Tom Hanks.

The chapel was built in 1446 on the orders of Sir William St Clair, and is located at the top of a leafy glen.

The mysterious symbols which were carved into the ornate stonework have intrigued visitors ever since. It’s worth a visit if you haven’t been before.

Crime scene

Inside the chapel there are 13 columns, with the most famous of them called the Apprentice Pillar.

So the legend goes it was carved by the young apprentice whilst the master mason was off researching pillar designs.

When he came back the mason was livid, as he hadn’t expected it to have been finished to such a high standard, so the master killed the apprentice in a fit of jealousy.

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We appear to have stumbled across yet another crime scene.

All this detective work has made us ravenously hungry so we head to Dolly’s, located directly across the road from The Original Rosslyn Inn, for lunch.

Dolly's Tea Room Roslin
Dolly's Tea Room Roslin

Dolly the sheep

You can easily spot the sheep logo on the exterior of the building; the place is named after the famous cloned sheep, created in 1996 at the Roslin Institute just along the road, and named after a certain well-endowed country singer.

Inside the tea room there is a wall display about the famous sheep. This place is spotlessly clean and stylish, so there’s no chance of getting any of the criminals’ fingerprints from the menu.

So far so good, absolutely nothing about this place that would justify upping sticks without paying.

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At the time of the incident the hard working owner, Amy, had vented her frustration on social media more as a point of principle rather than to recover the £20.90 bill the couple had avoided paying.

It is made worse when you find out that Amy also works part time as an NHS nurse.

Local lunch spot

We were shown to our table by friendly waitress Anna who also took our orders.

This place also supports the community employing local youngsters and gives them a chance of having their first part-time serving job.

Dolly's Tea Room Roslin
Dolly's Tea Room Roslin

There’s a breakfast menu and a simple lunch offering of salad and chips with paninis or bagels and soup and a roll.

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As we are peckish my elder girl thoroughly enjoys slurping some piping hot soup de jour, a bowlful of herby tomato joy served with a warmed roll with butter.

Holy Grail

I opted to sip a cappuccino while peering suspiciously at the clientele over my cup. There are a few other diners, a family get together and a grandparent treating her grandchild.

Nothing untoward. As I consume my frothy beverage I’m utterly delighted to reveal it cost £2.80, so I might have found my local coffee shop holy grail at last.

Dolly's Tea Room Roslin
Dolly's Tea Room Roslin

I had the avocado sundried tomato and onion panini for my main, but was sorely tempted by brie and cranberry and haggis and cheese. 

The youngster polished off her garden bowl of salad, which was topped with a generous sized portion of tuna mayonnaise, again everything was fresh, roll perfectly warmed and the butter soft.

Shaking things up

They also cater for vegans and other dietary requirements and offer soya, oat and almond milk for teas and coffee.

So far this mystery has got me bamboozled, so we decide to stay a bit longer to sample some of the Dolly milk shakes.

Dolly's Tea Room Roslin
Milkshakes from Dolly's Tea Room Roslin

The range of flavours includes Bubble Yum, or bubble gum flavoured, The Chocolate Code, no prizes for guessing what might be in this, Dolly Floss which is actually strawberry flavoured, Da Vin Cherry, The Sheep which is a mix of vanilla and white chocolate ice cream and my personal pun-tastic favourite Baananaramaa.

Costing £3.95 you can expect a jam jar glass filled to the top and creatively decorated with sweets.

I went for banana and my daughter sampled the strawberry which was decorated with fizzy rainbow lace, candy floss and a syringe full of fruity ice-cream sauce.

With a paper straw in each glass they make for a pretty Instagram picture, and I’m pretty sure milkshake fans will flock to visit here.

Criminally good

We headed straight to the counter to pay, pausing to look at the tasty selection of cakes I will order next time. 

I didn’t solve the crime of the century but we will both be back to show our support to a lovely local business.

Dolly's Tea Room Roslin
Dolly's Tea Room Roslin

Dolly’s Tea Room
2 Penicuik Road,
EH25 9LH

Tel: 0131 440 3328

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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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