Scotsman Review
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  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
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June 24, 2023

St Andrews Bay Clubhouse & Grill, Fairmont St Andrews, restaurant review - you don't have to be a golfer to enjoy the lunch and views

This clubhouse has the best views in Fife

What would an alien say, if the first human it met was a golfer?

I think they’d be mightily confused, especially by the spiky shoes and heavy bag of sticks. It would take a lot of explaining to communicate that these aren’t weapons.

All sports are strange, but golf is up there with Pickleball, beer pong or buzkashi, which involves attempting to get a goat carcass into goals, while on horseback.

Thus, a freshly-landed extraterrestrial would be pretty bamboozled at St Andrews Bar Clubhouse & Grill, where almost all of the other diners were golfers and seemed to have US accents.

One of the players was carrying around a signed toilet seat, presumably a booby prize of some sort, and another was complaining about how much they hated playing this game, yet willingly signed up for more.

At least, that’s just part of what was going down on my visit to this five-star hotel’s recently refurbished restaurant. It’s just a few minutes away from the main Fairmont St Andrews building and overlooks The Kittocks, one of their two championship courses.

You notice a lot more, when you’re a solo diner and there’s nobody to distract you with a grown-up conversation.

However, I wasn’t purely making my own Caddy-Shack-related observations.

I was mainly boggling at the view, which is so gorgeous. St Andrews looked misty from this vantage point, like some kind of fairy tale metropolis.

I could barely concentrate on the menu, since I was distracted by all the sky and sea.

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I’m not surprised that they’ve kept the interior of this venue neutral. There’s no point competing.

I eventually managed to focus on lunch, and went for the hand-dived Orkney scallops (£18), though there were other tempting things on there, like langoustine bisque, beef tartare and Scottish smoked salmon.

My starter was a burly portion that consisted of four huge seafood stubs, with toasted halos around their tops. They were flanking an interesting jumble, which consisted of garden peas, chopped radicchio, pancetta cubes, crumbled hazelnut and a green herb jus.

This dish had an almost Venetian vibe and didn’t feature the usual sweet or citrus additions you might get with scallops. I couldn’t help missing those elements a little, though their absence did make the natural sugary-ness of the seafood sing. I put my ear to the plate, and I think they were doing an acapella of Disney's The Little Mermaid theme tune.

Although most of the golfers seemed to have chosen a monolithic portion of fish and chips, you could also go for mains including lemon sole, sandwiches, or beef from the Josper grill section, or something from the seafood list. The menu is pretty vast. I would ordinarily be tempted by the whole Scottish seafood platter (for two) or St Andrews Bay grilled lobster, but I felt too conspicuous to do all the claw-picking on my Jack Jones.

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Instead, I went for the braised Ross-shire lamb neck (£29).

I’m used to ordering this meat and getting pink rump or rack, but this was a fatty cut that felt comfortingly humble and was big on musky flavour. It came with a palm-sized potato fondant, mint jus and some perky veggies - three struts of broccoli and an assortment of carrots.

This is what some people would want to eat, before 18 holes, though I just needed a lie down afterwards.

Instead, after working through most of it, I quit the empty dining room and joined most of the golfers-on-a-break, by sitting on the covered terrace.

I finished with an alfresco portion of their passionfruit cheesecake (£12), a coaster-sized disc with a fruity topping that was almost as bright as the gorse on the fairway. It came with a dollop of mango sorbet, meringue, a few dots of passionfruit gel and some other coconut-flavoured creamy and crumb-y bits.

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I finished every last mouthful, though I’d done (and was planning) absolutely zero exercise, not even a single putt.

I may not be a golfer, but I could get quite used to eating like one.


St Andrews Bar Clubhouse & Grill, Fairmont St Andrews
St Andrews Bar Clubhouse & Grill, Fairmont St Andrews, KY16
01334 837 000
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.
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