If you are heading into Fife this summer and are looking for somewhere to eat, put Balgove Larder Steak Barn on your list.
St Andrews is a town that holds a special place in my heart and it is a road I have travelled more times than I can recall in my lifetime.
I have watched the Open and the Dunhill Links in both of its formats at the “Home of Golf”, visited its ruined castle and wandered the town’s cobbled streets and its sands.
St Andrews has an aura about it like very few places and it is a very relaxed town. No one seems to be rushing around and the students at its world-famous university add a cosmopolitan air to it.
However, most of my memories of St Andrews stem mainly from the Lammas Market.
The majority of my summer would see me picking berries to earn some cash – only to spend almost every penny I had earned on the rides and in the amusement arcades.
Nowadays, though, it is its food offering (and the ice cream at Janetta’s in particular) that normally tempts me across the water from Angus.
The meandering road is sometimes not the quickest drive with many a tractor or lorry on the road but, if anything, that is a bonus in itself as it allows you to take in the views as you approach the town where they first played golf in the 1500s.
An opportunity to dine at Balgove Steak Barn saw me and my wife, Karen, heading off to St Andrews once again recently.
Living in Carnoustie, Balgove is probably only about nine miles as the crow flies – and many auld worthies where I live talk fondly of the hovercraft taking golfers, fans and caddies back and forward when Tom Watson won the Open at Carnoustie in 1975.
The travel by road is a good deal longer but it was a beautifully sunny day as we headed over the Tay Road Bridge before arriving at Balgove, easily found just as you enter the east side of St Andrews.
Balgove Larder is heaven for foodies. There is the larder itself packed full of local and artisan produce, pizzas, pies and cakes.
Oh, and the steak barn, which was where we headed after picking up some amazing-looking pies and cakes to take home.
We were greeted by the manager, Joanne, whose enthusiasm and knowledge were obvious from the start as she explained what the specials were and left us to decide.
Now, if you have never visited then you might think Balgove Larder Steak Barn was just a clever name.
It’s not. You do in fact eat in a barn – and it’s great.
Huge trestle tables line the barn filled with hungry diners while the extremely happy and helpful servers busy themselves attending to your needs.
The service was amazing, I cannot give the young people working there enough compliments. They are fantastic.
Having settled down, I opted for the starter of scallops served with Balgove’s own black pudding, shards of crispy bacon, pea shoots and pea puree.
I love scallops and I adore black pudding (Stornoway being my go-to) and having been fortunate enough to have eaten the two together before I knew it worked – I also have something to compare with.
I needn’t have fussed about whether it would live up to my expectations – it was absolutely delicious. The creamy scallop and the spiciness of the black pudding were the perfect combination with the pea puree adding a lovely freshness to the dish.
Oh, and whisper it, the black pudding definitely rivalled my favourite Stornoway variety.
Karen had chosen the BBQ pulled Balgove pork slider.
This, too, was a winner – a brioche bun, stuffed full of savoury, yet sweet, barbecue pulled pork, that made your mouth water.
With the excellent servers (did I mention them?) having cleared our table, we were delighted when the main event arrived.
Had to be steak
Being in a steak barn it would have been rude not to choose a steak.
Rib eye is my favourite cut and there was no way I was choosing anything else. Karen, too, chose the rib eye.
Two steaks duly arrived which certainly looked appetising. They were served with twice-fried chips and salad leaves. We didn’t opt for any other accompaniments – a deliberate move as we didn’t want to be too full.
I have eaten a lot of steaks in my time, but this one was right up there. Is it the best I have eaten? I genuinely don’t know, but it is, without a doubt, one of the best.
The steak was so well cooked, perfectly medium for me, and so tender that you probably could have cut it with a spoon, the knife sliced through it like it was butter.
The rich marbling in the ribeye always ensures that a well-cooked cut is mouth-wateringly juicy.
Coming from their own home-reared butchery, the meat is an absolute joy.
Karen had no complaints about her steak either, and it was clear we were enjoying it as we both sat silent until our plates were cleared.
The twice-fried chips for me were an outstanding accompaniment – even if Karen thought I was behaving bizarrely dipping them in English mustard, But that’s how I roll.
Boozy ice cream
I am not normally one for desserts, but boozy ice cream appealed to me so I delved in.
Luvians vanilla pod ice cream served with a shot of Magnum single malt cream liqueur was an outstanding way to end my meal. The liqueur just added to the creaminess of the ice cream and the hit of whisky was something I particularly enjoyed.
Karen had chosen Balgove lemon and white chocolate Eton mess. This was the steak barn’s take on an Eton mess and having managed to snaffle a taste I can reveal that it was indeed a good idea on their part.
The lemon and white chocolate worked well together and it wasn’t too heavy as I thought it might have been.
I thought for a moment that perhaps I had chosen wrongly, but then took another spoonful of my boozy delight and realised we had actually been fortunate to have two excellent desserts.
Even if you aren’t planning on eating, Balgove Larder is definitely worth a visit. However, without indulging in something while you are there, then I would suggest you are doing yourself a disservice.
If you are a lover of steak that is cooked well and has you wanting more, then I would certainly recommend popping in.
Of course, there are other meats on offer such as the pork (the piri piri pork cutlets sounded appealing).
Food miles are kept to an absolute minimum with the butchery all done on site and you know it is top quality from the moment you taste it.
I will certainly be popping back next time I am on the trail in Fife.