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Does the Kirkstyle Inn in Dunning offer more than just ‘hearty soup’?

Food reviewer Chloe Burrell was welcomed into the village inn to try out their offering. Was there most than meets the eye?

Soup at the Kirkstyle Inn in Dunning.
The Kirkstyle Inn in Dunning is a village staple. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a village gastropub.

Our corner of the country has no shortage and we should count ourselves so very lucky.

It’s easy to underestimate their role in a world where rural communities are dying deaths by a thousand cuts.

To shorten their to-do lists to simply pouring pints and plating up traditional favourites is, as we’ve grown to see, beyond a dereliction of faith.

Now cornerstones of their community, village inns are living, breathing organisms that aim to represent all who use them.

We found this was summed up perfectly at The Kirkstyle Inn in Dunning.

Kirkstyle Inn a ‘cornerstone of the community’

The 222-year-old Kirkstyle Inn really does have everything you could want.

Dunning is truly up to its oxters in history, from being torched in the 18th century to tales of witches being reportedly burned at the stake even earlier.

Stepping into the Kirkstyle Inn is like stepping back in time – but the flames in the fireplace inside are far from as concerning as those which have previously raged in the hamlet.

The Kirkstyle Inn in Dunning.
The Kirkstyle Inn in Dunning. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson

In the doorway is a beautifully-preserved bar which looks like something from decades gone by, but it is wonderfully cosy and intimate.

Outside, there’s a quiet beer garden situated right by the rushing burn.

Seating areas are spread throughout the historic building – we took a table towards the rear.

Despite sitting within a well-stocked bar – complete with its own brand of lager – we both stuck with a lemonade (£2).

Shortly after we sat down, a couple across the room from us were served bowls of soup from which the drifting aroma found its way to our noses as clearly as it did to the pooch snoozing at their feet.

Tomato and roasted pepper soup ‘sweet and piping hot’ at Kirkstyle Inn

That was enough for me to choose the soup of the day (£5), which to my delight was tomato and roasted pepper, as my starter.

The bowlful arrived complete with a slab of crusty bread and butter. I was in awe as I took my first mouthful.

It was sweet and piping hot, brimming with chunks of green peppers and mouthwatering tomatoes throughout.

Tomato and roasted pepper soup with crusty bread and butter.
Tomato and roasted pepper soup with crusty bread. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson

It was the perfect introduction to my Kirkstyle Inn experience – the bar was set high as I looked toward my main.

For his starter, my partner was a pest, asking for the black pudding fritters (£5), which were listed simply as bar snacks.

Two huge fritters arrived in wonderful golden, crisp batter which flaked delicately as soon as cutlery nudged it.

Beneath it were thick cut slices of the juiciest, most flavourful black pudding he says he’s had (a not insignificant amount).

Black pudding fritters.
Black pudding fritters. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson

The restaurant unsurprisingly uses locally sourced produce and while suppliers aren’t specified on the menu, it’s can’t be ignored that meat mogul Simon Howie’s butchery empire is headquartered a mere stone’s throw away.

Accordingly, this was something my partner had huge hopes for – which were duly met and exceeded.

For my main I chose the veggie burger (£16), although it was hard to choose between a burger and the roast vegetable ravioli which was also on offer.

The veggie burger at the Kirkstyle Inn. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson

I think I made the right choice however, as my burger arrived bursting with BBQ peppers, guacamole and salsa – all topped off with onion rings.

Kirkstyle Inn in Dunning a ‘lynchpin of the village’

The dish also arrived with a side of chips – as if the burger itself wasn’t enough.

I will forever be that person who decides to cut their burger with a knife and fork. This came in handy though as the burger was so packed full.

It was delicious, the softness of the fresh guacamole perfectly complimenting the crispiness of the burger.

A nearby diner must have heard my order as she soon also chose the veggie burger for her dinner.

My partner went for the duck confit salad (£12) which was also available in a smaller serving as a starter.

Duck confit salad.
Duck confit salad. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson

He doesn’t usually order salads, watching him pull his gaze away from the steak frites (£19) was quite a sight.

But his moth-to-a-flame-esque attraction to anything with duck was mighty enough.

Thick cuts of perfectly cooked bird, and a mountain of crunchy, fresh exotic greens, all doused in a sweet Asian dressing.

The chef’s inspired idea of chucking in a few crispy spring rolls got a big thumbs up.

Despite the cracking range of puddings, we were too full – but next time we’ll prepare ourselves.

The verdict

It could be forgiven if management at the Kirkstyle Inn took their eye off the ball here or there given how much goes on under their roof.

There’s rooms to rent, they run cocktail masterclasses, staff organise golfing, shooting and fishing outings – they even offer wilderness dining, in case the fabulous restaurant isn’t rugged enough for your taste.

We enjoyed our meal at The Kirkstyle Inn, Dunning. Steve Brown/DC Thomson

Walking in put us right in the mood to watch their appearance on Channel 4’s Four In A Bed for a closer look.

While we were there, smiling staff were wearing T-shirts advertising an upcoming summer music event they’re hosting.

It feels like a lynchpin of the village.

But despite all that juggling, they haven’t taken their focus off the food.

It’s clear their kitchen is the shiniest jewel in their glistening crown.

Everywhere should have their own version of the Kirkstyle Inn.

Even if that was the case, it would still be worth sauntering out to the foot of the Ochils to drop in.


Address: The Kirkstyle Inn, Kirkstyle Square, Dunning, PH2 0RR

Telephone: 01764 684248


Price: £41 for two soft drinks, two starters and two mains.


Food: 4.5/5

Service: 5/5

Surroundings: 5/5

For more restaurant reviews, check out our food and drink section.