Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
Ambiance
8/10
Food
8/10
Total
0%
March 9, 2024

Cambo Gardens Cafe, Kingsbarns, review - say farewell to the snowdrops with cake and soup

This is the last weekend of their Snowdrop Festival

The Victorians loved a snowdrop.

To them, they represented hope, rebirth and purity. 

As they’re one of the first spring flowers, their appearance can also feel like a metaphorical finishing line.

We survived winter! Hurrah. I want to kiss their tiny white bonnets.

At Cambo Estate, it’s the last weekend of the Cambo Snowdrop Festival, which runs until Sunday March 10. Despite this, their flower population is still looking remarkably perky.

They’ve got pots of them on sale, and they’re spread through the woodland grounds, like a lorry spill of double cream.

Once you’ve finished counting them (we got to 63,901), you can head to their stables cafe, which serves vegetarian and vegan-friendly food and adjoins their Visitor Centre and Shop, with the beautiful Walled Garden just behind.

The food is looked after by chef Gillian Veal, who founded Dundee cafes, Parlour and Folk, and is the author of The Parlour Cafe Cookbook and the forthcoming book Cafe Cooking from The Parlour to Cambo Gardens, out in June 2024.

She was working in the food van, on our visit. It’s parked in the cobbled courtyard, where, among other things, they were serving sweet chai and lavish hot chocolates piled high with marshmallows the size of bean bags.

It was still too chilly for us urban softies to sit out there, so we bagged a table in the fairy-light-strung indoor area, where tables are slotted into the original stalls, alongside the spirits of horses that died more than a century ago.

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The concise menu offers wholesome cafe grub. This is the kind of stuff I hope to track down in garden centres and art galleries. All of the main courses are £10.95 (apart from the soup, which is £5.95 with bread, or £7.95 if you add a cheese scone) and come with an accompanying soup or seasonal slaw.

I went for a special of leek tart. This pocket-dictionary-sized slab was more like a galette - rich and satisfyingly wibbly in the centre and featuring a feathery puff pastry base that was cooked to that crispy and coppery sweet spot. I’d teamed this with a bowl of pea, leek and broccoli soup with a wild garlic oil drizzle, which was the greenest-tasting soup I’ve had. I felt infused with health and certain that all my winter-time chip loading had instantly been absolved. Well, that’s what I’m telling myself.

Another special of red pepper tortilla was a feta-cheese-studded and four-inch-tall isosceles, which was marbled with butternut squash. Their pakora wrap was gorgeous too. It consisted of two large and crispy-edged roll-ups, each containing a good fiery hit of chilli, warm and sweet pakora, spinach and crunchy coleslaw.

The remaining two of our gang had the cheese toasties. These featured a layer of mature cheddar and some cumin-y and jammy chutney and were satisfying, though it’s the accompaniments that really made them shine. For example, their seasonal slaw was a lovely crunchy and juicy red-cabbage, pumpkin seedy and carrot based offering, all clad in a garlicky dressing.

Cakes were next, and there were a dozen to choose from on the menu.

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After a bit of hawing, I went for a decent flat white (£3.50) and the hummingbird cake (£4.50), which featured a crumbly pineapple and banana sponge topped with a hefty splurge of cream cheese icing. The traditional double-level spiced orange cake (£4.40) was equally lovely, with cinnamon and citrus icing, while their long plank of Bakewell (£3.75) was suitably almondy and jammy-middled.

The kids were very much into the Nutella cupcakes (£4.50 each). They used them to proudly show me a ‘hack’ that they’d learnt on TikTok. It involved scooping the icing off the top, cutting the sponge in half, and making a ‘sandwich’ by putting the icing in the middle. Honestly. Children today etc.

Anyway, despite the ensuing mess of crumbs, we were all very content.

It felt like the lunch had marked some sort of turning point, from winter into spring.

Roll on the milder weather. Down with the chilly season. Hygge is overrated and I’m glad to see the back of it.

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To celebrate, I smooched every single of the 63,901 snowdrops on our way out.

Cambo Farm Cottages, Kingsbarns, St Andrews KY16 8QD, UK
Cambo Farm Cottages, Kingsbarns, St Andrews KY16 8QD, UK, KY16 8QD
01333 451 040
Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
Ambiance
8/10
Drinks
8/10
Food
8/10
Service
9/10
Value
8/10
Total
0%
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