Further Scottish Dining

Saturday, November 26th , 2016

beach at St Andrews in sun-crop-v2.JPG

I finished my visit to Edinburgh by returning to Martin Wishart and also trying his more casual restaurant The Honours. I remember being very impressed with my meal here six years ago, and Mr Wishart has not lost his touch. The restaurant showcases the best Scottish ingredients, and the technical skill in the kitchen is high. Dishes such as langoustine with parsnip and Orkney scallop with walnut pesto and curry veloute were outstanding, and the whole meal was of a very high standard. Why this does not have a second star is puzzling to me.

The Honours is a brasserie that still makes use of the high-grade produce available in Scotland, such as local beef and lovely fish and shellfish. We had an excellent meal, including a terrific tagliatelle with black truffle puree and scallops, as well as a classy tart tatin. As a bonus there is an excellent wine list and impressively trained waiting staff. The food and overall experience here would put plenty of Michelin-starred restaurants in London to shame.

St Andrews is a pretty town on the east coast of Scotland, with a highly rated university, a ruined castle and cathedral and a spectacular two mile long beach that was used for the opening sequence of the film “Chariots of Fire” (pictured). It is also a convenient base to visit the Michelin starred restaurants Peat Inn, about six miles from St Andrews, and The Cellar in Anstruther, which is ten miles away.

The Peat Inn is in a 17th century building and was the first restaurant in Scotland to gain a Michelin star back in 1980. It had a somewhat tenuous hold on the star over the years, but these days is in different ownership. Since 2006 It has been run by Geoffrey Smeddle, who had ragained and retained a Michelin star since 2010. The building is quite atmospheric, and the menu is appealing, making the most of the local produce. We had an excellent meal here, highlights including a rich venison ragu with salsify “carbonara”, and good lobster and soufflé dishes. The staff were charming, the wine list modestly priced and the overall experience excellent. 

The Cellar is an interesting little restaurant with just two chefs working in the kitchen, serving up to two dozen diners. Set in an old smokehouse, the dining has a low ceiling and cosy fire, and the menu is short but appealing. The best dish of the night was a superb scallop with duck ham, and a deeply flavoured ox cheek with chess espuma nibble. Staff were welcoming and The Cellar is definitely well worth its recently acquired Michelin star. If you are in the vicinity then do yourself a favour and try it.

I have now been to all the Michelin-starred restaurants in Scotland, most of them in the past few months. There is a single multi-starred restaurant in the form of the enjoyable Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, though for me both Kitchin and especially Martin Wishart were of solid two star standard. There are ten further one-stars of distinctly varying standard. There is the excellent Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond, the very good Peat Inn and Cellar and Isle of Eriska, Boath House and Number One and then the decidedly less assured Albannach, 21212 and Kinloch Lodge, and the bewildering Braidwoods. The casual restaurants of Kitchin and Wishart, respectively the Scran & Scallie and The Honours, seem to me to be better than six of the current starred places.

The Michelin 2017 guide to Spain came out. There was a third star for Lasarte in Barcelona, the second restaurant of Martin Berasategui. There are now 9 three stars in Spain, as well as 23 two stars and 154 one star restaurants. There were no demotions at the three star level.

The Michelin 2017 Belgoum guide also came out. It was a quiet year, with De Karmeliet closing but otherwise no change at the three star or two star level. There are now 2 three star restaurants in Belgium, 20 two star and 110 one stars.