TAKE me back to the black hotel of Dakota where the food is simply marvellous and the welcome is warm.

And with apologies for mangling a song made famous by Doris Day, I'm sure if she'd stopped by the Bar & Grill in South Queensferry she'd have loved it much more than any old hills.

I've often driven by the Dakota Hotel, you can't miss it after travelling over the bridge, but having never visited I idly wondered if it was roasting inside given the dark windows and exterior.

Dunfermline Press: The Dakota Hotel in South Queensferry. The Dakota Hotel in South Queensferry. (Image: Dakota Hotel)

That old adage of white reflecting heat and black absorbing it stuck in my mind but rest assured as, after being given the opportunity to review the bar and grill, the only thing that was really hot was the talent in the kitchen.

On an unremarkable midweek evening when other venues are struggling to scare up a crowd, the restaurant was busy with lots of smiling and content faces, always an encouraging sign for a would-be diner.

Dunfermline Press: There are lots of delectable dishes to choose from on the Dakota menu.There are lots of delectable dishes to choose from on the Dakota menu. (Image: Dakota Hotel)

The website blurb promises "reimagined classics with an award-winning twist" and in keeping with the building's dark sense of intrigue, as in you really can't see what you're stepping into until you do, we discover one of their secrets as we peruse the menu.

Despite its apparent popularity with Dakota diners the 'Venetian Dip' we are presented with as a pre-starter doesn't feature on the menu at all.

But what a pleasant surprise it is.

A rich and warm tomato compote with an oozy and melting goat's cheese in the centre, it's served in a skillet with great hunks of bread to dip that Paul Hollywood would be proud of.

The only down side is it's for sharing.

It seemed a bit indulgent - admittedly that doesn't usually stop me - to order nibbles after that, you can choose from Spanish olives, hickory smoked nuts or hummus with crisp bread and lemon oil.

Already mindful of leaving some room for dessert, and there are only so many notches you can go down on the belt, it was into the starters proper.

Dunfermline Press: The crispy duck salad was the perfect combination of sweet and sticky, crunchy and sharp.The crispy duck salad was the perfect combination of sweet and sticky, crunchy and sharp. (Image: Dakota Hotel)

The crispy duck salad was an undoubted triumph of sweet and sticky, with the crunch of cashews and sharpness from the salad dressing and greenery.

Across the table there were appreciative noises as my wife tucked into the burrata, a lovely round ball of white cheese with radicchio jam, apple and walnut.

As I was driving - I really need to up my rock, paper, scissors game - it was my smug companion who received the wine list and was happy with her tasty tipple of choice from the rose and orange section, an Ulterior Naranja.

My Appletiser was lovely. Dakota describe their hotels as "sophisticated yet cool, with timeless style" and, while that's not a concept anyone would associate with me, it's hard not to be impressed.

Dunfermline Press: The comfortable and friendly surroundings of the Dakota Bar & Grill.The comfortable and friendly surroundings of the Dakota Bar & Grill. (Image: Dakota Hotel)

The restaurant is beautiful to look at, polished wooden floor, low lighting, tasteful artwork and a full stocked bar - albeit the deep dark red curtains did remind me of the red room that appeared in dream sequences in the oddball TV series Twin Peaks.

Nothing weird but plenty of wonderful on the menu which made choosing a main dish a time consuming affair.

There was also langoustines, chicken schnitzel, a beef ragu rigatoni and sea bass jockeying for our attention, not to mention the steaks cooked over hot coals.

Next time, next time.

Dunfermline Press: You got to have sole. So we did, the grilled fillet. You got to have sole. So we did, the grilled fillet. (Image: Dakota Hotel)

My better half insists you've got to have sole and so she opted for the grilled fillet, accompanied by new potatoes, parsley butter and a scattering of capers.

I tried a morsel, for review purposes of course, and could see why she was grinning. The fish was beautifully cooked, and so delicate it was melt in the mouth stuff.

So many choices but I went down the seafood route too with monkfish on the bone, sitting in the centre of a Goan curry with basmati rice.

Too hot and spicy and you run the risk of overpowering the taste of the fish but this was judged to perfection, with more of a nice warm hug from the curry.

Dunfermline Press: Net gains. Monkfish on the bone, served with a Goan curry and basmati rice. Net gains. Monkfish on the bone, served with a Goan curry and basmati rice. (Image: Dakota Hotel)

Controversially, I was persuaded by our waiter to try it with a side dish of crispy cauliflower.

Now, to my mind, this veg has always been evil, back to childhood days when my mum cooked it at home it smelled like feet.

However, talked back down from the edge, I took the recommendation and this crunchy and tasty version turned me into something of a very surprised convert.

With room for dessert - was there ever any doubt? - I paired my lemon tart, with fruit sorbet and cherries with a lovely Amaretto-like flavour, with a black coffee. Heaven.

My wife opted for another favourite, Affogato, with vanilla ice cream and espresso and resisted the offer to 'make it boozy'.

Well there's a first for everything. The Dakota Hotel is at Ferrymuir, South Queensferry. Go to the website or call 0131 319 3690 to make a reservation.