It cannot be argued that St Andrews is a fantastic place to visit for a day out. There is something of a buzz about the town and it has a thriving centre.
It is also a place well worth visiting if you want to enjoy some really good food, whether that be breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack.
From the Cheesy Toast Shack which is an incredible place to the more decadent Old Course Hotel – and plenty in between – St Andrews for me has an exciting food scene that ticks all the boxes.
So, the opportunity to pop along to The Bridge at Rusacks was something I was very much looking forward to.
And it gave me the chance to wander about the famous town, taking in its fabulous sights and, of course, watch some people taking on the challenge of the home of golf.
And so it was on a recent Friday when my wife, Karen, and daughter, Cari, and myself were all free that we took the opportunity to pop over the river from Carnoustie.
The Bridge at Rusacks St Andrews
The Bridge was relaunched earlier this year when a new menu and concept were unveiled which has been created by chef Francesco Boto and overseen by executive chef Derek Johnstone, winner of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2008.
Drawing culinary inspiration from the coast and hillsides of France and Italy to the villages and mountains of Spain, Greece, the Adriatic and the Levant, the new all-day dining offer celebrates the abundant flavours of Mediterranean cookery.
The venue previously focused on British and European dishes and has now streamlined its focus to a modern Mediterranean palate.
At the launch, Derek said: “I am passionate about the simplicity of ingredients on our menu; allowing our produce to speak for itself. I’ve been working alongside Francesco for two years now and his respect for the heritage of Italian cookery is admirable.
“In my twenties, I spent time at Restaurant D’O in Milan. Here we used the finest local ingredients from neighbouring harbours and farms, simply prepared to offer a seasonal menu to be enjoyed by the whole family around the table.”
Being lovers of Mediterranean cuisine, we were all really excited about The Bridge having taken the opportunity to peruse the menu on the website before heading off.
However, we were all forced to admit that the menu was very exciting and it would be difficult to choose for fear of missing out on some of the amazing-sounding dishes.
We were met by Zoe who was looking after us and made us feel very welcome as we were shown to our table which had views over the 18th fairway of the famous Old Course.
The restaurant is very well laid out and there is plenty of space between the tables, the décor is beautiful and the walls feature portraits of top golfers – we enjoyed lunch with Tiger Woods looking on!
To start I plumped for Panzanella, grilled focaccia and wild oregano (£7.50).
Now, I must admit that I had never had Panzanella, although a friend of mine who lives in Jersey raves about it so I seized my opportunity.
A traditional Tuscan dish, The Bridge’s take on it was fabulous. Lovely, rich and flavoursome tomatoes combined perfectly with the red onion, basil and cubes of grilled focaccia. The dressing was perfect with a slight acidity that cut through the sweetness of the tomatoes.
I savoured every mouthful of this while wondering why, in my 50 years on the planet, I had never ordered it before. I most certainly will be ordering it again.
Karen had chosen the Parma ham (£8.50). Zoe explained that it is served on its own but you can add some focaccia. However, Karen loves Parma ham and was very happy to let it speak for itself.
Regarded as one of the finest hams in the world, this did not disappoint. There were lashings of the thinly sliced delight on the plate instantly recognisable by its lovely pink colour.
Hints of sweetness and salt combined to make the Parma ham a melt-in-the-mouth moment. Simplistic and delicious, it was all it needed to be and delivered in flavour.
Cari is like her dad – a fish lover – and she plumped for fritto misto (fried mix) which was a combination of prawns, squid and market fish, served with chilli and garlic aioli (£10).
I had actually fancied this too, but fortunately, Cari was kind enough to let me try it.
The prawns and squid were cooked to perfection and the batter was lovely and crunchy, while the market fish in the dish was whitebait and haddock.
The garlic aioli was the perfect combination for these tasty morsels. For me, this was a real winner and on my next visit to The Bridge, I will be ordering this.
Moving on to the main event, my attention was taken by the linguine, crab, samphire and chilli (£16).
As I have said previously, I love my seafood and crab is a favourite. This was a fantastic combination with the sweetness of the crab meat marrying perfectly with that lovely taste of the sea you get with samphire. Cherry tomatoes added a delicious sweetness, while the chilli gave the dish a little kick but not so that it was overpowering. The linguine was absolutely delicious, being al dente and coated in a delicious creamy sauce that was incredibly moreish.
The chilli gave the dish a little kick, but not so that it was overpowering. The linguine was absolutely delicious, being al dente and coated in a delicious creamy sauce that was incredibly moreish.
The pappardelle with slow-cooked beef shin ragu and gremolata (£16) had piqued Cari’s interest and we all agreed that this was a dreamy delight.
The slow-cooked shin of beef was simply stunning. It was packed full of flavour, as you would hope and expect with the slow cooking, but there was a lovely warmth to it which allowed your mind to drift off to those sunnier climes.
The beef ragu coated the pappardelle perfectly and I watched in envy as my daughter savoured every last bite.
Scottish mushroom tortellini and truffle butter sauce (£18) was Karen’s choice and, on theme, this was another dish for us to savour.
Each of the handmade tortellini was filled with a Scottish mushroom filling that had retained all of its delicious flavours. The pasta was thin and cooked perfectly.
This was a dish created with love, with the seasoning being spot on and the accompanying truffle butter sauce being a match made in heaven, being both sweet and savoury.
Finished off with some delicious Parmesan, Karen commented it was one of the best pasta dishes she had ever eaten – and I was inclined to agree.
After a brief rest, we decided we would indeed sample the dessert menu and it provided an opportunity to give the attentive Zoe a little laugh.
Having been served our desserts, we swapped them around and each of us ended up with something we hadn’t ordered which certainly amused Zoe.
I had originally ordered the panna cotta, rhubarb, orange and cantucci (£7), but Cari ended up with it – but not before I had the opportunity to taste it.
Rhubarb and orange for me is the ideal accompaniment to a sweet and creamy panna cotta. It provides that sharpness that pairs perfectly and just cuts through the richness of the dish.
Cari simply uttered “Wow” as she ended her experience at The Bridge on a real high.
I ended up with the classic Italian dessert affogato, which combines vanilla ice cream and espresso (£4).
If truth be told, I probably should have ordered this anyway with my palate tending to prefer a slightly more tarte dessert.
Smothering the smooth and tasty vanilla ice cream with the espresso was just a delight. It is a simple dessert and it delivers on flavour with the strong flavour of the heavily brewed shots of coffee combined to create a delicious flavour hit that changed with every spoonful as the ice cream melted.
And so it was that Karen ended up with what was originally Cari’s choice of cannolo, ricotta, candied fruit, chocolate and pistachio (£6).
Crispy, sweet fried pastry was packed with a tasty filling of ricotta, candied fruit and pistachio, and coated in chocolate.
A staple in Italy, this dessert is classic that delivered something decadent with every bite. It was extremely rich, however, and time needed to be taken after enjoying the previous two courses.
The Bridge is still in its infancy in its new incarnation as a Mediterranean eatery. However, their ethos is to be admired.
Their mission is to deliver top-quality food at affordable prices in a venue that takes you away from the streets of St Andrews to any Italian town or city.
In my opinion, they have certainly got that right. All three of us relished each course that was reminiscent of trips we have enjoyed on the continent.
Their use of fresh and seasonal ingredients in inventive, yet at times simple ways, is to be applauded as it allows the ingredients to really shine in these creative dishes.
The quality of the offering at The Bridge really impressed us. I cannot wait to return and look forward to seeing the menus evolve throughout the seasons.
Address: Rusacks, Pilmour Links, St Andrews KY16 9JQ
Tel: 01334 472549
Price: £93 for three starters, three mains and three desserts
- Food: 5/5
- Service: 5/5
- Surroundings: 4/5