My love affair with St Andrews… and its awesome culinary scene!
One of the nicest places I had the pleasure of visiting, on my recent trip to Scotland, was St Andrews. It’s a beautiful place, and famous for being a Scottish setting for Royal romance.
Walking around The Scores, with the wide sweep of St Andrews Bay set against the surprisingly intact medieval layout and dramatic ruins of the town, evokes a feeling of being on a film set.. it’s all so picture perfect.
lush and green, St Andrews is full of undulating golf courses but within walking distance of the beach and sea
From it’s undulating golf courses to pristine beach, Cathedral, aquarium, Stanza Poetry Festival and boutiques hotels, it really is a dream destination in the UK. And one of the loveliest places I got to stay at for 2 days, was the Macdonald Rusacks Hotel, which is within a sand wedge of the 18th hole of the famous Old Course.
the ruined St Andrews Cathedral
Stylishly remodelled on a golfing theme, Macdonald Rusacks Hotel is a swanky, luxurious accommodation with a 3 rosettes fine dining restaurant to boot. Being the foodie that I am, I absolutely could not wait to dine at the Rocca Bar & Grill.
The MacDonald Rusacks Hotel
My room.. the super luxurious junior suite which had a living room (lounge area), a massive balcony over looking the golf course & beach, and also a huge and comfy king sized bed/bedroom
my room had a great view !
the study and lounge area
The Rocca Bar & Grill at the Rusacks Hotel, serves fine food and drink, against a backdrop of the world’s oldest golf course. Magnificent views out to sea take in St Andrews’ West Sands, immortalised in the Oscar-winning movie Chariots of Fire. Unquestionably Scotland’s greatest golfing hotel, the Rusacks has a dedicated golf concierge, friendly and helpful staff and a super efficient General Manager, Mr. Kevin Keenan, who collectively believe in the personal touch, and attend to all your queries without hesitation.
the main lobby – sitting room with a golf theme (but of course!)
St Andrews itself is the Home of Golf, being the home of the Royal and Ancient , one of the oldest Golf Clubs in the world and the R&A one of game’s worldwide ruling bodies. There are a large number of golf courses or links, as coastal courses are properly known. The most famous golf course in the world, the Old Course is in St Andrews. It hosts the Dunhill Cup each October and, more importantly, the Open Championship every five years with the next scheduled Open to be held in 2015.
the Dolls House – where back in the day, Kate Middleton worked for a couple of summers, during semester breaks..
The University of St Andrews , founded in 1413, is the third oldest university in the English-speaking world, after Oxford & Cambridge. It sits right on the shoulder of the Royal Kingdom of Fife , on the eastern side of Scotland. Its most famous recent alumnus of course is Prince William, who studied art history at the university from 2001 to 2005. And ah.. who could possibly not know about the royal romance – William and Kate met when they were on the same history of art course at St Andrews, before the Prince switched to geography. The couple used to be spotted enjoying intimate suppers at The Dolls House restaurant in St Andrews, owned by the husband of TV hostess Carol Smillie.
the doll house – interior.. spot the royal table!
But apart from golf and a lovely hotel, what impressed me the most about St Andrews was the food. It really has some terrific restaurants within a short distance from each other and here are my recommendations for a gastronomy trail, should you visit St Andrews.
3 Great Dining, Must-not-miss Restaurants in St Andrews are:
1. The Rocca Bar & Grill
The Rocca Bar & Grill is a sleek, comfortable Italian restaurant in the classic grill style offering an ala carte menu that’s well thought out, and employs only the best of Scottish and local produce.
A sublime marriage of robust and romantic, it fulfils its three AA Rosette award-winning status. A simple meat and fish grill menu is sure to satisfy. I had the best ribeye steak here that completed a 3 course meal to perfection. This place comes highly recommended.
Applewood smoked foie gras and confit duck terrine with toasted brioche
Whenever I see duck terrine or foie gras on the menu, I normally order it without hesitation, and this first starter at the Rocca Grill did not disappoint. Smooth, unctuous and creamy, every mouthful was pure decadence. Lovely.
Confit Duckling , Scallop and Roast White Onion Soup
My second starter of onion soup was another winner. A tasty morsel of duck confit, balanced precariously on top of a juicy piece of scallop, complemented the rich, thick and creamy onion soup to perfection.
280g Grass fed, Aberdeen Angus Rib-eye, roasted tomato, hand cut chips and watercress ,your choice of peppercorn or red wine sauce
Rib-eye is my absolute favourite cut of steak and I picked the red peppercorn to go with my medium rare steak. As you can tell from the rosy hue, my rib-eye was cooked just the way I like it. It had a lovely amount of fat marbling that conferred a moist, succulence to the meat that’s hard to beat. I found out that at the Rocca Grill, they age all their steaks first, for at least a month, before it is cooked and served. Marvelous.
Crunchy Lemon Creme coconut crumble and white chocolate sorbet
Dessert ended on a high note. I hope to return one day with my family, so that they can enjoy all the great amenities and fine food that The Rusacks hotel has to offer.
Rocca Bar and Grill
Macdonalds Rusacks Hotel
Pilmour Links, St Andrews
Fife, KY16 9JQ
Tel 0844 879 9136
International +44 1334 474321
2. The Seafood Restaurant
The seafood restaurant is a cool looking, glass cube tucked into the rocky coastline below the town, and has got to be, the most modern thing in St Andrews.
At high tide, you will see waves breaking beneath it and sea-birds wheeling above – it’s the kind of minimalistic, elemental restaurant you’d expect to find elsewhere in the world, and not in this quiet corner of eastern Scotland.
Given the stark, contemporary look it has, the interior is welcomingly warm. The crisp, neutral décor doesn’t try and compete with the views – in fact, the floor to ceiling glass panels give a perfect panoramic view of the ocean. The room’s main feature is a brushed-steel open kitchen, which gives a fuller than usual view of what’s going on. It nice to be able to see the Chefs and watch how they interact with the food in the kitchen.
Apparently this is the place to indulge in the freshest seafood you can get in Scotland. The fish literally comes straight from the sea into the pan. Too bad they were out of shellfish from the New Year’s celebrations due to the influx of diners. To our dismay, the fishermen were all on holiday as well. I could have done nicely with a dozen rock oysters.
No matter, they still had some interesting items on the menu that I was dying to try.
We ordered our first starter of smoked sea trout. No regrets there- it had a lovely texture and a subtle smoky taste to it. It was beautifully plated with parsnip, apple and vanilla.
For the mains I had the calves liver and that was served with red cabbage, fondant potatoes and bordelaise sauce. The liver was just shy of well done – cooked perfectly, just the way I like it.
My companions had the Hake, which was flaky and succulent, with a nicely pan seared crispy skin. This was served on a bed of samphire, spetzle, chili and brown shrimps. Certainly one of the best meals we have had in St Andrews. The three course meal only costs 26 pounds.
For desserts we shared a platter of cheeses, and each were paired with a dessert wine. A fantastic meal, and I would highly recommend The Seafood Restaurant to anyone visiting St Andrews.
The Seafood Restaurant,
St Andrews, Fife,
UK. KY16 9AB
Tel +44 (0)1334 479475
3. The Glass House
The Glass House is a Salvation Army church hall that has been transformed into an airy, contemporary open eating space, that serves some terrific Italian cuisine.
On the facade from the roof down through a glass-fringed mezzanine, along with modern glass installations and minimalist seating and tables inside. Against industrial brick walls there’s a faux wood burning stove with a flue reaching from ground to ceiling, offering an immediate first warming impression.
The next is the busy open kitchen. The menu has some superb Italian staples. The do a lovely salad nicoise here, with liberal use of high quality olive oil. The Italian theme develops through stonebaked pizza and fresh pasta dishes such as ground pork, smoked bacon meat balls with spaghetti and smoked paprika and onion chutney sauce.
We had the proscuitto, rocket salad and parmesan cheese pizza as well as the gorgonzola mushroom, and both we equally lip smackingly delicious. I liked the fact that it was thin crusted gourmet pizza and really well seasoned.
gorgonzola, mushroom and caramelized onions
proscuitto, rocket salad and parmesan cheese
The Glass house is good for lunch and early evening meals. A short wine list makes choosing easy and the house wine is good. The buzzy atmosphere makes for a fun venue and meeting place.
The Glass House Restaurant
80 North Street
St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9AH
Phone: 01334 473673
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