On a bright and sunny day in April, a friend and I took a drive from Dundee, over the Tay Bridge, through St Andrews, and a mere five minutes after leaving the famous town, we arrived at our destination – The Grange Inn. It did not seem possible that, in this short distance, we could have gained so much altitude as the views from the car park alone are something to behold.
We stood in wonder even before we entered this cosy inn in Fife as it felt as though we could see the whole of Courier Country and beyond. It helped that the weather was clear and bright and the sea glistened in the distance.
The Grange Inn is a maze of nooks and crannies and the dining room itself has a large picture window in an otherwise cosy stone room in order for guests to marvel, as we did, at the vista. There are not many tables and the atmosphere on our chosen lunchtime was quiet and calm.
The lunch menu was presented to us and £20 for three courses seemed very reasonable for a place that clearly wasn’t going to be serving run of the mill fare. I will say that the main courses were all fairly heavy and wintry but how was the chef to know that the weather was about to do a rapid degree shift from windy winter to sunny spring?
Before our starters arrived came the bread. Oh the bread. Made in house, the bake of choice that day was walnut and sultana, which was springy on the inside with a lovely hard crust and on the cusp of being a cake rather than a bread. It was fabulous and we had to try very hard not to scoff the lot, with lashings of butter of course.
My first course was the pigeon and blueberry roulade. I love the gamey flavour of pigeon but this creation had a rather more mellow flavour. It was soft and cut like butter and the blueberries lifted the dish with a zing. The vegetable garnish had been lightly pickled and overall this was a delicate and subtle starter.
My friend chose the watermelon served with fresh cheese as it had been made by the chef. It was Crowdie-like in texture but without the saltiness which meant it didn’t stand out as the star of the show. The watermelon was under-ripe but still added a cool freshness to the creamy Parma ham and toasted buckwheat components.
I was aiming for a lighter lunch and so chose the hake which was cooked perfectly. I love hake as it has as much flavour as, say, sea bream but with a chunkier, meatier texture and these morsels were prepared simply to allow their flavour to shine.
Plenty of fresh dill was clinging to the new potatoes which sat alongside the confit cherry tomatoes, butternut squash and wilted greens. The dish was completed with a balsamic and chive oil dressing which added a hint of sweetness. I thoroughly enjoyed my plate of food. It was simple and fresh and the combination really worked.
Our other main course was the braised blade of beef. No knife needed for this one as the meat just melted under the slightest pressure. It had clearly been cooking for many hours in its red wine sauce, giving the whole dish the depth of flavour one would hope for. The accompanying red cabbage carried a hint of cinnamon and made a lovely contrast with the earthy root vegetables and creamy mash. A hearty and comforting dish.
Even on a weekday lunchtime, we decided to push the boat out and sample desserts. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t move past the clootie dumpling on the menu and not because of its familiar warming feeling but because of the description of the iced marmalade yoghurt and tea syrup that were noted as its accompaniments.
I was certainly not disappointed. The dumpling itself was light but the iced yoghurt simply divine. It had the slightly sour taste that yoghurt does but with the bittersweet flavour of marmalade that would have made Paddington Bear very proud. Using frozen yoghurt instead of traditional custard or ice cream really did lift this pudding entirely and I loved it.
Once we had googled Tonka beans, my friend ordered the panna cotta which had been flavoured with these sweet yet earthy pods. Not as sickly as vanilla, the beans suited the creamy jelly really well. The crunchy and oh so naughty honeycomb provided a totally different texture to the smooth dessert and this one too was a winner.
We had been served a lovely lunch by three charming and enthusiastic members of the waiting staff team. From the moment we sat down, it was clear that real time and effort had been taken in the kitchen to cook and serve the food with precision and care. The portions were not overbearing and the presentation elegant. To make bread in house is a real treat for guests but to make cheese as well shows true dedication and flair. The Grange Inn is quirky, cosy and adorable and the setting is wonderful. A lovely spot all round.
Price: Lunch: £17 for 2 courses and £20 for 3 courses.
Info: The Grange Inn
Address: Grange Road, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 8LJ
Tel: 01334 472670