Great Places to Eat in Scotland
- The Seafood Restaurant, The Scores, St Andrews, Fife

The Seafood Restaurant

The Location
Old Course, St Andrews The ancient, charming town of St. Andrews located on the Fife coastline, with its castle and cathedral on the steep cliffs overlooking the sea, is world famous due to its significant place in the history of religion, the 15th century University and, of course - Golf. St. Andrews, with the Royal and Ancient golf club, is the undisputed international Mecca for golfers as the Home of Golf. But you don't have to play golf to enjoy a visit. The bracing fresh North Sea air provides a naturally beneficial and refreshing environment while the never-ending sea and sky create a painterly landscape. The fantastic West Sands beach - popular with kite flyers as well as surfers tackling the big breakers out at sea - stretches for miles and will provide just the perfect exercise before or after a meal at the Seafood Restaurant. This is located five minutes walk from the beach (and town centre), near the Aquarium - also well worth a visit to see seahorses, seals and sharks.

The Restaurant
The Seafood Restaurant
The setting and design are absolutely stunning. It's a giant square glass box, which has been built directly on a concrete platform above the harbour wall, jutting right out over the rocks with the waves pounding underneath as the tide ebbs and flows. Floor to ceiling picture windows sweep right along all four sides, with white linen covered tables placed in neat rows all the way around to give every diner a fabulous sea view.

The original Seafood Restaurant - a converted pub - in the nearby fishing village of St. Monans has long been a favourite destination place to eat since opening in 1995. The founding director is Tim Butler and together with executive chef, Craig Miller as co-proprietors, they have received numerous awards over the years. The second Seafood Restaurant in St. Andrews opened in August 2003, which immediately received hospitality industry attention with the accolade of AA Restaurant of the Year 2004-5 followed by 3 AA rosettes in January 2005. The creative Butler-Miller partnership shares a vision to create a most distinctive, romantic dining environment.

The Food
Craig Miller Pete Irvine highlights the Seafood Restaurant as the "top spot in town" in his latest addition of Scotland the Best with an impressive 2 ticks. The menu is described as "fish pure and simple." That is it in a nutshell - but it is the quality, diversity and imaginative presentation which are exemplary. Fish prepared poorly, either under or overcooked can completely destroy flavour and texture. Here the care and passion shown by the kitchen brigade (working in an open theatre kitchen within the restaurant, under the direction of executive chef, Craig Miller, pictured here) is second to none.

I visited for lunch one wintry day, when high rolling waves were crashing on the rocks and beach below. At just £20 for two courses, £24 for three, the menu is exceptional good value. There are five choices for starter and main course.

I selected half a dozen Kilbrandon Oysters, each subtly flavoured with the tang of mango and chilli salsa with a shot glass of Bloody Mary placed in the centre. This got the taste buds jumping. My partner opted for Spiced Mussel and Saffron Veloute, which arrived in a large bowl. I tasted a spoonful - this was a divine, thick creamy, golden yellow soup with a fantastic rich shellfish flavour. Other Starters may include Scottish Smoked Salmon with red onion and capers, or Monkfish on a rosemary skewer with guacamole and couscous.

The Seafood Restaurant It took quite a while to select a main course, as I dithered and swithered over sole, cod and halibut. Eventually I selected Grilled Fillet of Cod, with confit potatoes and crushed truffle peas. This is in fact a gourmet take on Fish & Chips with mushy peas. Served on a long rectangular white platter, the artistic presentation is superb. And then the first taste. Heavenly, delicate, tender flakes of pure white fish, beside a stack of chip-shaped, al dente potatoes with crushed truffle-scented peas. Absolutely fabulous. Meanwhile my partner chose Grilled Fillets of Lemon Sole with roast cherry and basil risotto. Again this is exquisite just to look at. Two neatly rolled fillets of Persil white sole were placed on a bed of risotto, again all cooked to perfection. Another dish, which I could have been tempted with, is the Poached Smoked Haddock, with crushed potatoes, poached egg and hollandaise sauce. For those who prefer meat there is always an alternative such as Terrine of Foie Gras to start followed by Breast of Duck with Dauphinoise potatoes.

Portions are just perfect and the pace is leisurely so that you don't feel overly full after two courses. Service by the way hits the mark - a young team of men and women are attentive, professionally trained, yet not too fussy or formal. While this is definitely a fine dining experience, the ambience is relaxed and fairly casual.

The Seafood Restaurant So, after a breather, time for pudding. Nothing too heavy with desserts like Crème Brulée with plum compote and hazelnut tuile, or Tiramisu. I opted for the Pear and Bramble Mille-feuille, expecting very thin layers of filo pastry in between the fruit. Unfortunately this turned out to be a more modern version with the layers made of crunchy sesame biscuits. Not quite the same thing as the classic French pastry. My partner however was oohing and aahing over his Crème Brulée. Then to finish a strong dark espresso. We shared a half bottle of white wine at a very reasonable £ 10 and a bottle of sparkling water.

The Dinner menu is more extensive with a superb choice of six starters and main courses but featuring a similar menu style as at lunchtime. Starters may also include Thai Crab Salad or Smoked Haddock Rarebit with creamed leeks followed by Poached Red Snapper with wilted spinach and mussels.

The Bill
Contact for current menu and prices.

This was without any shadow of doubt the best lunch - perhaps, the best meal - I have experienced in many years. It's such a romantic setting beside the sea. Lunch is perhaps a forgotten art but here they do it in style with last orders at 2.30pm. On a Saturday in November the place was packed with couples of all ages, ladies who lunch, weekend shoppers having a pit stop, and large party tables of friends and families. It's a quiet, rather than OTT, Foodie restaurant and very popular 7 days a week. So reserve your table for a rather memorable lunch or dinner and indulge in a very fishy experience at the Seafood Restaurant. See or e-mail to make a reservation.

Vivien Devlin
December 2005

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