Despite having driven past The Old Manor Hotel, Lundin Links, many times over the years, I had never eaten there. I confess to having been a little put off by the modern banqueting suite, partly obscuring the roadside view of the traditional gray stone manor house, and the signage referencing the hotel’s wedding and conference trade.
Perhaps I was a little quick to judge. Perched above the golf course, enjoying the panorama of Largo Bay, the hotel is ideally situated for lunch with a five-star view. We dined in the evening, missing out that, but popping back the next day to pick up the car we couldn’t help but admire the stormy Firth of Forth with the snowy Pentland hills in the distance.
Once we located the reception – following a path alongside the darkened conference suite – we were pleasantly surprised. Still a small country house hotel, with just 23 rooms, I had the impression that real care has been taken to update the public areas in a modern Scottish style. It quite successfully combines an old world charm with the contemporary reassurance of Harris Tweed sofas, stag antler chandeliers and an extensive gin menu.
We were swiftly and warmly greeted by a maitre’d of consummate efficiency, for whom nothing was too much trouble. Would we like to have a drink in the candle-lit lounge before dinner? Absolutely. The perfect opportunity to sample one of the many gins on offer, the geography of the selection extended far beyond Eden Mill. He even calmly smoothed over the fact I accidentally set fire to the menu – by leaving it smouldering on top of a tea light.
The menu is a traditional blend of bar supper favourites, steaks, burgers and classics such as fish pie and slow braised short-rib of beef. This is not fine dining, but it was all the better for it. Starters range from £4.65 to £7, mains from £12.95 to £19.95 and desserts from £5.50 to £7.50. What is on offer here are the traditional classics,
reasonably priced and well executed, in a relaxing yet refined setting – a combination surprisingly difficult to come by.
For me this was quite a nostalgic experience, reminiscent of the best of the bar suppers my granny took us out for as children. Reassuring signs of quality were there to see in the choice of butcher – Hendersons of Glenrothes – and attention to detail shown in the choice of cheese for the Black & Blue burger – the lesser-known Blue Murder cheese developed by cheese expert Alex James.
Despite the fact the dining room is large, a conservatory extension to the original house, and traditionally set with white tablecloths and really quite bright lighting, it still feels comfortable. I enjoyed the fact our table was tucked in the corner, conveniently far away from the larger groups at the other end of the room. It was a little quiet perhaps, but not awkwardly so, probably just the sort of peaceful evening we needed after a hectic week.
Our starters arrived swiftly – setting the pace for the meal (and the only bugbear of the evening). My Old Manor fishcakes were pleasantly crispy on the outside with a rich smoky flavor from the plentiful flaky haddock. Mr H’s polenta-coated halloumi fries were tasty too, generously portioned and just what we were expecting. Neither dish was fancy – the simple salad and watermelon garnish was the same on each plate – but the flavours were satisfying. We both felt someone had been a little light-fingered with the garnish, though. I had dispatched all of the chipotle mayo after half a fishcake and Mr H was in similar straits with his minted yogurt dip. Luckily we only had to ask and ramekins of both were rapidly delivered with a smile.
No one could criticise The Old Manor for slow service. Our main courses arrived as we ate the last mouthful of our starters. At this point we debated whether we should bring forward our pre-booked taxi. Reluctant to disrupt the schedule of Kingskettle’s only taxi driver, we endeavoured to eat slowly and our request for a break before dessert was easily accommodated.
My rib-eye steak, chargrilled and cooked rare, was a pleasure to eat with a creamy pepper sauce and accompaniments of tomato, mushrooms and watercress. The bucket of handcut chips were crispy outside and fluffy inside. Compared to some places where a premium is charged for the meat and sides are priced separately, at £19.95 this is very good value. Mr H was delighted with his venison sausages, grain mustard mash, onion gravy and root vegetables.
We were almost too full for dessert. However, after a little break, we steeled ourselves in the line of duty and opted for the Black Forest pannacotta and the sticky toffee pudding. Presented simply, with little garnish, both were delicious. In fact the pannacotta – studded with forest fruits, dark chocolate and a base layer of moist chocolate sponge – retained a lovely quiver and skilfully avoided being over-set with gelatin.
We did wonder if the sticky toffee pudding had been left in the oven just slightly too long but the flavour was none the worse for it and the vanilla ice cream and shortbread crumb were the only accompaniment necessary. We opted for coffee in the lounge afterwards, sinking gratefully into a comfortable sofa. Would we return? Yes, absolutely.
What The Old Manor delivers very successfully is a something-for-everyone classic menu.
Price: Starters from £4.65, mains from £12.95, desserts from £5.50.
Info: The Old Manor Hotel
Address: 55 Leven Road, Lundin Links,
near St Andrews, KY8 6AJ
Tel:01333 320 368