I was pondering with the family over where my next review would be one Thursday night when we hit upon the St Michaels Inn.
The North Fife eatery is a short hop across the Tay Bridge for us and having looked at posts of the food they were serving up on social media, I grabbed the phone and booked for lunch the following day.
The St Michaels Inn had been closed for some time, but it is back in operation under the ownership of chef/entrepreneur Manuel Rascon.
His culinary journey has taken him all over the world and his prowess also led him to Dundee United Football Club where he was providing cuisine for the staff and players.
You sometimes hear whispers about a restaurant building a reputation and the noise about what Manuel was achieving at the St Michaels Inn was getting louder – I simply had to see what was going on.
The inn is, as you might guess, in the quiet village of St Michaels. It is only seven miles from Dundee and 15 miles from St Andrews, so is ideally placed for passing trade as people make their way to the golfing town to play or for a day out.
We had booked for 1pm but had got a little bored waiting to head off so jumped in the car earlier than we needed to.
As it was we arrived at 12.30pm, but this was no problem as our server was happy for us to have a drink and order. She would pop our dishes through when the kitchen was available.
Taking our seats in the bar/restaurant which is rather quaint and is very comfortable, we quickly realised that St Michaels Inn is not a hidden gem, far from it.
There were a number of tables occupied and many more diners came in while we were eating – I think they probably did around 30 covers while we were there, great trade for lunchtime.
Perusing the menu and glancing at the dishes as they were served to other tables, we quickly realised why the eatery was so busy.
There is the saying that you eat with your eyes, well my eyes were watering never mind my mouth as I saw the array of brilliantly presented food being brought to fellow diners.
Balmoral chicken, fish and chips and burgers all looked fantastic as we tried to decide what we were having.
Accompanied by my daughter, Cari, to start with we settled on tapas (£15). You could choose three dishes from seven and we opted for patatas bravas, pil pil prawns and haggis bonbons.
The other choices were St Michaels croquets which change each day, chorizo al infierno, tacos and St Michaels hummus.
I started with the haggis bonbon. They were nestled in a sweet and not too spicy peppercorn sauce that was the ideal accompaniment to the bonbon that was beautifully crispy on the outside with the crumb giving way to a lovely peppery and moist haggis. I lapped up more of the peppercorn sauce and savoured every morsel.
Next, I ventured for a prawn. Served in a small dish with garlic, red and green chilli and oil, the prawns were cooked perfectly, sweet and succulent with just the right amount of heat coming from the chilli. Being a lover of spice I mopped the chillies up too.
Having enjoyed the first two tapas, I expected the patatas bravas to be good – but they were better than that, they were wonderful. The potatoes were perfectly cooked and the spicy tomato sauce was epic, delivering the right sort of heat to my palate. Once the potatoes were gone, I eagerly mopped up the remaining sauce with some bread.
Moving on to the main event, regular readers will not be surprised to read that I had opted for “Catch of the Day” (£19 but varies). You have to ask your server what it is and when we visited it was pan-fried cod with mussels, roasted potatoes and tomato sauce.
There was a lot that could go wrong with this dish, but there was no need to be fearful as it delivered flavour and texture. The meaty fillet of cod was a delight, flaking nicely and as it can be a fairly neutral flavour it was completely lifted by the delicious sweet and tangy sauce that combined red pepper, green pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, chilli and olive oil.
There is always a danger that mussels will be overcooked and rubbery but these were on point, melting in my mouth and combining perfectly with the cod and sauce.
And let’s not forget about the roasted potatoes that were great for mopping up what was left of the sauce.
Cari had chosen chicken Balmoral (£15). A few people had ordered this so we were both eager to see it close up. It did not disappoint, a large fillet of chicken arrived which was filled with haggis and wrapped in a slice of bacon. It sat proudly on a bed of creamy mash, carrots and broccoli.
The chicken, by now covered in peppercorn sauce, was moist and moreish, with the spicy notes of the sauce and the haggis really bringing it to life.
The mash was simply amazing, so creamy and smooth, while the broccoli, which had been cooked in mint we thought, was also spot on having a great bite to them.
We fully understood why this was proving so popular as it was quite simply outstanding, and I will probably enjoy it on a return visit.
Perusing the dessert menu, the chocolate fondant caught the eye and we ordered it with two spoons, although mine did not get used much – in fact, just once.
Delving the spoon into the fondant it exploded into chocolate goodness as it oozed out all over the plate. The fondant could not have been baked any better and was accompanied by a homemade vanilla ice cream that was also delicious and crumbled meringue which gave some added texture to a truly delightful dessert.
Having only been open for four months, Manuel and the team at St Michaels Inn are doing something special.
If lunch is anything to guide me, then I cannot wait to sample their dinner service.
Already, the restaurant is a place I will be adding to my regulars’ list. There is so much to enjoy about the food, but let’s also not forget about the service.
The servers could not do enough for us and they made us feel so welcome. They were happy to explain what the dishes were and there was definitely a personal touch.
There is a definite feeling of family at the St Michaels Inn and everyone in the bar/restaurant was enjoying the experience as much as we did.
I would imagine that taking the inn over during the current tricky times might have been viewed as a gamble – it’s one that is most definitely paying off.
Address: St Michaels, St Andrews, KY16 0DU
Tel: 01334 838776
Price: £61.90 for three tapas, two mains, a dessert and two soft drinks
- Food: 5/5
- Service 5/5
- Surroundings: 4/5