If only we had our own speedboat so we could whizz across the Forth and visit Fife’s restaurants on a twice daily basis.
There are so many excellent established ones, from Michelin-starred favourites, The Cellar and The Peat Inn, to the ever reliable Anstruther Fish and Chip Bar, Hatch in St Andrews, The Kinneuchar Inn in Kilconquhar, and Craig Millar @ 16 West End, The Dory and the East Pier Smokehouse, all in the village of St Monans.
In fact, with so many top notch venues, we wanted to suggest that this might be the time to drop the ‘s’ in East Neuk.
Of course, we recommend that you visit all of the aforementioned, but if you are looking for something newer, here are a few that are under a year old, to try in the Eat Neuk this summer.
This cafe is only a baby at four months old, but has become a popular fixture already. As it’s in one of the units at food and drink hub Bowhouse, formerly occupied by Jess Rose Young, it’s worth teaming a visit with one of this destination’s market weekends, which run on the second weekend of every month, with the next running on July 9-10 and August 13-14. The Baern menu focuses on bakes, which showcase Scotland the Bread’s Flour and veggies from East Neuk Market Garden, and are created by Hazel Powell and her business partner, Giacomo Pesce. We wouldn't know how to choose between a massive slab of focaccia, the St Andrew’s Cheddar, nigella and apple butter scone, or even a sandwich with lamb, labneh and sea sandwort, which is supposed to taste like pea shoots or cucumber skin. There are lots of cakes to choose from too, including a purple carrot, smoked rapeseed oil and cumin number, or a dark chocolate, porcini and rum tart. No boring old Victoria sponge to be seen.
Later in the year, this place will be operating as a restaurant with upstairs rooms, but for now, it’s operating as just the former. The owners, Nicholas Frost and Damon Reynolds spent 30 intense months refurbishing this 19th century Crail building on High Street North before opening in May 2022. Their menu, served in the smart dining room and bar, with its stained glass windows and parquet floors, has been designed by chef Craig McAllister, formerly of Prestonfield House Hotel. It reads pretty well, with starters including presse of rabbit, Dijon and hedgerow salad, as well as excellent sounding mains including Gressingham duck breast, Denhead asparagus and broad beans or BBQ lamb rump, anchovy gnocchi and sweetheart cabbage. Desserts include tablet parfait and walnut sponge along with the retro ingredient that is Tia Maria.
They aren’t new, you might say, they’ve actually been around for upmpteen years. Indeed, and it’s 103 to be precise. However, their latest project is part of a gradual re-branding exercise and is a modern cafe on South Street in St Andrews, which is housed in the former premises of bakers GH MacArthur & Sons, and features less of a couthy tea room feel than their other venues. Instead, there’s a smart blue paint job and windows that are emblazoned with gilded letters spelling; “For the Love of Baking Since 1919”. This family baker may be moving with the times, but they also know what NOT to change, so you can order their classic fudge doughnut, the coffee tower, and their strawberry Danish, which won Best Viennoiserie in Scotland at the recent Scottish Baker of the Year 22/23 awards. However, they’re also serving gluten free alternatives, as well as savouries, like sandwiches, soup and stovies. When you pay them a visit, look out for the croissant door handles. Also, don’t worry about their other St Andrews branch, on Church Street, it’s still there to service all your baking needs (or as a back up if the fudge doughnuts run out here).
The brothers, Henry and Will Philip, who run this St Monans business, grew up in hospitality as they helped their parents, who owned The Ship Inn in Elie for three decades. Their casual cafe, which opened at the end of last year, offers takeaway, sit-in or bench outside to those who’ve done the Fife Coastal Trail, or absolutely zero exercise whatsoever. Get your blood sugar back up with one of their affogatos or bakes including the rocky road doughnut, coffee and walnut cake, carrot cake or even Anzac biscuits. They also serve sandwiches like the St Monans Swinger with pastrami, smoked cheese, gherkin and mustard mayo, and have recently added a selection of ice-cream to their roster. Follow their Station Road antics on Instagram @giddygannet
Balcomie Links Hotel
It’s probably way too early to mention this Crail venue, as it hasn’t even opened yet, though we feel it can’t be too far off it now as their launch was originally mooted for Spring 2022. The building was taken over by Drygate Inns Ltd - an independent venture from entrepreneurs and business people, Alastair Johnston and Alan Bruce - who have spent the last couple of years of lockdown refurbishing and redesigning the distinctive-looking whitewashed 113-year-old premises on Balcomie Road. It’ll be primarily a hotel, but there will also be two bars, including the Bal Bar and a restaurant. We are counting down until launch.