The Inn at Lathones is an old coach house nestled in the countryside a few miles inland from St Andrews.
The building itself dates back more than 400 years and in more recent times it has carved out a reputation as a must-visit for both foodies and music lovers.Fairport Convention’s Iain Matthews plays there on October 19.
The double AA Rosette establishment has been owned by Nick and Jocelyn White since the 1997 and head chef Chris Wright runs the kitchen.
The inn also offers accommodation and it’s quite common for people to come for a meal, a gig and an overnight stay.
We were here for one thing and one thing only, however: the food.
The inn is accessed through a small courtyard and has low ceilings and a ramshackle, added-to-over-the-years internal layout that is by turns confusing and charming.
The bar area has a big log fire which unfortunately wasn’t lit on the evening we visited, there being an autumnal chill in the air. The central heating wasn’t initially on either but it was soon turned on and the place quickly warmed up.
Staff offer you the choice to enjoy a drink and peruse the menus at the bar, and then invite you to your table when your food is ready.
There are two menus: the bar menu and the more expensive restaurant menu. Diners can pick and choose freely from both and we did exactly that.
From the posher menu we went for seabass terrine, and from the proles’ menu we chose Thai-style mussels.
While the fish was tasty, the mussels were the stand-out dish, the coconut, chilli and lemongrass sauce bursting with vivid flavour.
On to mains and my dinner companion prudently stuck to the bar menu, picking the braised beef and Guinness pie.
The sauce was rich and tasty, and there was a pleasingly large pile of crunchy chips. A snip at £10.50.
I splurged, going for the most expensive item on the menu: the chargrilled Highland fillet.
It came topped with oxtail pithifer a delicious blend of pastry and tender meat and baby vegetables.
Your £25.50 doesn’t buy you a huge slab of meat but boy does it look good. Next to the listing on the menu is the term “SBC”. This, our waiter explains, stands for Scotch Beef Club.
A restaurant scheme with stringent entry requirements establishments must be able to trace each steak back to its farm or origin it puts Lathones in elite company with places like The Kitchin in Leith and Princes Street’s Number One. However, this dish was my only real beef (excuse the pun) with the eating experience at Lathones. Having asked for my steak medium rare, it was served cooked through with just the faintest trace of pink in the middle.
It was one of the finest cuts of meat I’ve ever seen and still tasted superb even cooked medium-well but it was disappointing not to get it the way I’d asked for.
That said, in true British style I’m a terrible complainer and didn’t let the management know about this so as not to cause a fuss.
My partner in culinary crime and I were both running out of steam when the dessert menu was presented but the waiter recommended the chilli ice cream with a selection of chocolates so we shared this.
The combination of spice and sweetness was odd but not unpleasant, and the various little chocolate puddings were rich and indulgent.
Miscooked steak aside, I came away impressed by the Inn at Lathones. The two-menu system gives a nice variety of styles and prices and it’s in a lovely countryside location.
It was worryingly quiet when we visited on a Friday night, however, possibly because of its close proximity to the Peat Inn, Fife’s other foodie country pub.
Price: around £90 for three courses for two (plus drinks)