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See inside The Crusoe Hotel’s new restaurant ahead of its opening this week in Leven

The bar area of the new restaurant. Pictures by Steve Brown / DC Thomson.
The bar area of the new restaurant. Pictures by Steve Brown / DC Thomson.

One of Fife’s most famous hotels will welcome its first diners to its new restaurant this weekend following a £200K refurbishment.

Graham and Rachel Bucknall purchased The Crusoe Hotel in April 2021 and by the July, had the venue on the quayside of Lower Largo reopened to the public after 11 weeks of renovations.

However, the restaurant has been closed since the couple took over and they have been offering food and drink in their public bar area only as a result.

Inside the restaurant area.
Inside the restaurant area.

From Friday the public will finally be able to dine in the renovated restaurant and bar which took six weeks to transform.

The owners are delighted to be able to welcome the public and residents into the new space which lies on the first floor of the venue along from the kitchen.

Rachel says it will make service easier for the staff and is looking forward to transforming the public bar back into “a proper pub again”.

Rachel Bucknall outside the newly refurbished The Crusoe Hotel.
Rachel Bucknall outside the newly refurbished The Crusoe Hotel.

“The staff have been carrying plates up and down to the pub so it is great we’re now serving on the same floor as the kitchen.

“We’ll have some snacks and things in the pub where we can welcome drinkers and dog walkers, but upstairs will be our main dining focus.

“We will have an outside barbecue area, too.”

The eatery seats up to 72 people.

What’s on the menu at The Crusoe Hotel?

The hotel is currently recruiting staff and envisions having around 30 to 40 in their team to operate fully.

The 72-seater restaurant and bar will be open seven days a week from noon to 3pm and 5pm to 8.45pm and will serve pub favourites and bistro dishes.

Whole baked sea bass with green sauce, charred lemon, crushed citrus and chive potatoes.

A focus on provenance will be apparent across the menus with local drinks firms also included in the cocktail offering.

“The fishing boats from the harbour wall will be bringing in fresh mackerel and we’ll have lobster and crab coming from them when in season,” said Rachel.

“There’s chicken, salad from Largo Estate’s walled garden, and we’ll have pub favourites like our pie of the day, fish and chips, a burger and a veggie burger, plus other options.

Balmoral Estate wood pigeon with pan fried, carrot and shallot puree, cobnuts, shimeji with bok choi.

“As we don’t have a lift there’s a separate dining area where diners who need accessibility and who have dogs will be able to enjoy the restaurant menu. Upstairs isn’t dog-friendly.”

The Crusoe Hotel hopes to provide food service all day on a Sunday and will introduce a Sunday roast in the coming weeks.

Breakfast will also be served in the morning and will feature homemade granola, poached eggs, full Scottish breakfast and pancakes.

Pork loin: Slow braised belly, crackling, cauliflower, apple and mustard.

Ross Traill is Head Chef and his partner Jackie Fergus is the general manager. Ross has worked for Rachel and Graham for the past 11 years and has been in his head chef position for two years.

He heads up eight to 10 staff in the kitchen and has devised the menus.

Ross Traill (42) from Livingston at The Crusoe Hotel.

Unveiling the best view from the venue

The Crusoe Hotel is Rachel and Graham’s third hospitality venue. They also own The Ship Inn in Fife and The Bridge Inn in Ratho, near Edinburgh.

The full refurbishment project is predicted to take around 18 months and they will have invested around £1million by the end.

The bar area upstairs in the restaurant.
The bar area upstairs in the restaurant.

One of the main things the couple did when renovating was lighten the restaurant area.

The dark space has been opened up and Rachel says one of the best views from the hotel has now been exposed and so now diners can experience it for the first time.

“We’ve certainly lightened the space and white washed the stonework to brighten it a bit.

The bar area where the windows have been opened up to let more light in.

“Where the new bar is, it used to be a ladies loo and linen cupboard. You would never have known but they had the most extraordinary views, but no one ever saw it. So we’ve pulled that all apart so that it is really open.”

The hotel is currently recruiting additional staff and the pub will be open from 9am until 11pm.

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