Restaurant review

Restaurant 18 at the Rusacks Hotel in St Andrews

There is nothing I love more than a great hotel restaurant, but finding an experience where food is not an afterthought grudgingly and overpriced for residents and account holders. of spending is extremely difficult locally.

Memories of terrible meals at famous hotels in Dundee and St Andrews predate Covid although I am now convinced that the recurring nightmares of being trapped at both establishments made the solo lockdown feel like a walk in the park – or, even better, a night at the Ritz.

The Ritz in London is one of the most beautiful dining rooms you can imagine, and the Ritz in Paris was one of the most beautiful hotels in the world – so much so that it was even possible to ignore the fact that the spectral presence of then owner Mohamed Al Fayed could loom around the corner when you check in.

I have stayed at the Ritz in Paris several times while visiting the City of Light with a wealthy artist friend (the hotel would exceed my budget if I paid) and for me it was the best hotel experience ever – the perfect fusion of beauty, function, glamor and just the right amount of arrogance to make even a Lochee oik feel pampered but not an impostor.

Even when I unwittingly tried to tone it down while swimming in the Ritz’s gorgeous pool while I was covered in undiagnosed Elephant Man shingles sores, the Ritz just brought fresh towels and cool water and I I’m sure I would have quietly left some calamine lotion in my room, if I hadn’t already checked. This is the style!

While Edinburgh has examples of hotel experiences that are transformative and memorable, Tayside has fewer.

Out of Dundee’s three main hotels (I’ve never been inside the Hampton by Hilton as I can’t really imagine a place less reminiscent of the Hamptons style than an urban roundabout in front of a Lidl, across from where someone put a brick in my car window), my favorite place for food was the Indigo Hotel, slightly out of the way.

However, a quick glance at their hotel’s general website showed that the food was not prominently mentioned, although when I called them to verify this I was told that their Bistro Daisy Tasker IS open and serves “modern Scottish cuisine with a twist”.

Sure! I would recommend calling them to check opening hours before planning a trip, and also stick with the website to find the link to the restaurant.

The Rusacks Hotel in St Andrews.

St Andrews is a much better bet for those looking for a bit more bang for their buck, a fitting allusion as today’s visit was to Rusacks St Andrews, now American owned and proudly sporting the new 18 rooftop restaurant.

What a gem this hotel is! Even if, like me, you have no interest in golf, this place – located so close to the Old Course that you can almost smell the grass and the glory – buzzes with such quiet and tasteful efficiency that it almost purrs. Why are Americans so well served?

Cultural differences aside when it comes to service industries, I’ve never seen actors, models, and beaming beauties behave more like their happiness depends entirely on your enjoyment of a waffle than in the United States. .

Part of it, I guess, must be the culture of tipping, the ultimate reminder of a fundamental principle of hospitality; you give the customer something good and they will pay and come away happy and come back. They might even post a review on TripAdvisor.

An American friend, a former waiter, summed it up well: “Good service is expected of you when working in an American restaurant.

“We Americans see waiters as a more rewarding job than people maybe do elsewhere; Ultimately, if you get a job at a fancy or trendy restaurant, you’re probably going to make as much money as a lot of people who work in really good office jobs – and that’s appealing to people who aren’t looking for necessarily a 9 to 5 job.

The interior of the 18.

“Here in the UK the tipping culture is different, and that’s a whole different debate – but the bottom line is that people in the service industry should be paid more.”

Rusacks St Andrews is a hotel that does it right and 18 St Andrews is exactly what I was looking for.

We went at the end of their first week of opening and expected there to be a few issues – but there were none. We had the most delicious Sunday lunch in a room overlooking the world famous golf course and the West Sands, and it was a glorious experience.
The bedroom itself is lovely, albeit in a Frenglish style which is constantly at risk of getting extremely tired.

It’s that old Parisian brasserie vibe that’s so welcoming and relaxing – but everyone is doing it now and the look probably gained visibility years ago thanks to Café Rouge, the ersatz chain. of “French” restaurants that even featured in Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Here the look is pretty standard quasi-French and therefore can’t really fail to raise the bar on the glamor front. Most of the tables have a view and as the second group to arrive that day we were lucky enough to have a table right off the patio.

The view on the balcony.

With the doors open, the sun outside, and THAT sight, it was hard not to feel happy.
Just a little thing about the decor though – as far as I understand the use of aged glass for mirrors as a quick fix for the stained patina that only years of Gauloise, Gitanes, and sand can really provide – here they are so distressed that they should have a panic button next to them.

With this view outside, I think it would be wonderful to use more conventional mirrors so that people looking inside the restaurant and kitchen could have the reflected glory of such beauty given by God.


The food

The food was wonderful. First of all I have to say if you go online and look at the menu you might not find the same extensive choice when you visit in those early days of the restaurant.

When we went it was a modified selection of what we had seen online and the waitress explained it was a temporary menu while the restaurant tweaked everything to be perfect.

At the time of writing this review it was not clear when the full menu would be offered, but I would challenge any food lover to come here and feel cheated – and anyway, I admire the fact that it This is cooking aimed at such perfection that I chose to present a few future biggest hits (later) before I had even really tried to break the charts.

Executive chef and former MasterChef: The Professionals winner Derek Johnstone produces the kind of food I love to eat.

Derek Johnstone, Executive Chef of Rusacks St Andrews.

Here we could have started with six Cumbrae oysters, either with dill, apple and fermented cucumber, or presented in a more conventional way with shallot, tabasco and lemon (£ 19).

The Edinburgh Butter Company’s Wild Hearth sourdough (£ 5) tasted as good as ever, though I’m getting a little tired of the ubiquity of this bread.

It would be nice to see homemade bread on a menu like this before too long.
My pig’s head entree on toast (£ 9) came with nashi pear, bitter leaves and lightly toasted hazelnuts and was absolutely wonderful, a great juxtaposition of flavors and textures presented cleanly and simply. The pig’s head terrine was excellent.

Pig’s head toast with nashi pear.

David’s vegetarian starter of heirloom tomatoes with white peach, aged balsamic vinegar and arugula (£ 8) actually came from the vegan menu at the less formal Bridge restaurant downstairs.

The waitress suggested it as there was only one vegetarian starter on menu 18 and, delicious like wood-fired leeks with Errington’s goat curd, ‘cackle beans’ and puffed cereal. (£ 10), we both felt it might bear too many similarities to the vegetarian main course.

By the way, I guess the cackle beans listed on the menu were actually the fantastic Arlington White Cacklebean Eggs, with the most orange yolks imaginable.

All credit to the excellent waitress for suggesting alternative options for vegetarians.

Halibut with sea vegetables, grilled grapes and roasted kelp oil.

My halibut main course (£ 28) was accompanied by sea vegetables, charred grapes and roasted kelp oil and was an ace.

The fish was perfectly cooked, precisely timed, chewy and full of flavor. Great stuff.

David’s vegetarian main course of celery root, ‘Fat Cow’ cheese and onion pie, served with roasted onion and garlic (£ 18) was very good, a creamy pie and chewy with a good depth of flavor.

We shared three sides, the best of which were the Crispy Potatoes Confit with Malt Vinegar (£ 5) which were so melt-in-the-mouth, richly perfect that I would say you have to order them whatever you might choose to eat here.

The fish dish was a success.

The purple sprouted broccoli with anchovy crème fraîche (£ 5) would be a nice addition to your main course.

I think the steaks would be wonderful here (the meat is on display in a cabinet as you enter the restaurant) and also the dry aged duck served with honey, lavender and tamarillo stovie (£ 26) would be worth it to be ordered if only to find out what a tamarillo stovie really is.

Cranachan raspberry soufflé with raspberry and hibiscus sorbet.

The dessert was amazing and I only hope it will stay on the menu forever. The most intensely raspberry-stuffed soufflé has been described on the menu as a raspberry cranachan soufflé with raspberry hibiscus sorbet (£ 10).

Words cannot do this creation justice and I have to say that sharing one is a bad idea as one of you will be attempting to lick the perfect green from the empty ramekin just in case there is a creamy piece of this most creation left. light and the most deliciously scented to discover on the sides. It is so good.


The verdict

This is an excellent hotel restaurant, but more specifically, it is an excellent restaurant in itself.

Can’t wait to go back, especially when the full menu is available. A huge success!


Information

Address: 18 Restaurant, Rusacks St Andrews Hotel, Pilmour Links St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9JQ

Phone. : 01865 256 604
W: 18standrews.co.uk

Prices: Starters from £ 9, Main courses from £ 18, Desserts from £ 8

Notes

  • Food = 5/5
  • Service = 5/5
  • Surroundings = 5/5

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