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%
January 13, 2024

The Shoregate, Crail, restaurant review - we try one of the East Neuk's newer food destinations

This venue opened in the summer of 2022 and offers smart dishes

Some restaurants are like an East Neuk creel.

You’re tempted indoors by the food, then the door closes behind you.

Unlike the lobsters, humans don’t want to leave. Especially when it comes to restaurant-with-roomsThe Shoregate, as it was blowing a hoolie outside on our visit. The spray seemed to be coming from all directions, car-wash-style.

There was a view from our table, down a close, where at the end, the sea looked forbiddingly concrete-coloured. Our sou’westers were hung at the door, dripping.

This port-in-a-storm opened 18 months ago and is owned by couple, Nicholas Frost and Damon Reynolds, with Craig McAllister, formerly of Prestonfield House Hotel, as head chef.

You can eat in the couthy bar area, with its stained glass window, but we stuck to the teal and orange dining room, where they had Keep Young and Beautiful on the stereo, as if they knew we were coming.

I bedded in with a cocktail - the basil gimlet (£10.50). It was polka-dotted with a grassy green basil concentrate and was syrupy, thanks to the St Germain Elderflower Liqueur, which disguised the heavy duty glug of Hendricks Gin.

After three sips, I was ready to join in with; “don’t fail to do your stuff, with a little powder and a puff”. He wasn’t in the mood for a sing-song, since he was on the booze-free Menabrea (£4).

We’d chosen two cold starters to share. The salt baked beetroot (£11) was a surprise hit. There was a fluffy smoked crowdie mousse, along with quarters of red and golden beetroot, fragile seedy tuiles, plus pumpkin, pomegranate and sunflower seeds.

The cheese to veg ratio was 60:40, just how I like it.

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Our slices of pigeon and pancetta terrine (£12) didn’t look that appealing, with pink chunks that made them resemble the anatomical cross-sections you might see at Surgeons Hall. Still, that’s MY problem and, aesthetics aside, the dense meaty mosaics tasted great.

They came with a generous dollop of chutney, slivers of mustard pears, and pickled ‘baby navet’, which sounds like the cutest creature ever, but is a small turnip.

After a pair of busy starters, I’d gone simple with my main course of whole lemon sole (£25). It was my late dad’s favourite fish, and I rarely have it, so this was a way of saying hello. It was cloud soft, buttery and bronzed by beurre noisette and adorned by a gazillion nonpareille capers. I flaked off one side, then flipped it and methodically dispatched the other. It didn’t come with any sides, because I didn’t want to gild the lily, but there are upmarket potatoes, chips, greens or carrots (£5) should you require accessories.

The Shoregate, Crail

My baby navet had chosen the ballotine of pheasant, truffle and gruyere (£20), which was super indulgent and wintery. I don’t think I’ve ever had oozy fromage in a ballotine before, but it worked. This came with a relatively light puy lentil cassoulet, sans sausage, and plenty of burly cavolo nero.

It’s been a long time since we both ordered pudding. We’re usually scunnered, so have one to share. Not this time.

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That’s because I have a weakness for retro rum and raisin ice-cream, and this came as part of the warm apple pudding (£9) option. That’s as well as hot custard. It’s usually one or t’other, so this felt wrong, but also so right. This is how I plan to continue throughout 2024. The square block of pencil-shaving-brown sponge pud was school dinner-ish, but I do prefer the less-sophisticated desserts.

I rinsed it down with a double espresso (£3.25), which was the most bitter coffee I’ve ever had. My eyelids nearly turned inside out with every sip. Thankfully, this, as did the tea, came with a big block of tablet to make the medicine go down.

He’d gone for a lapsang souchong (£3), as he thought it’d team perfectly with the plum bakewell (£9), and he was right. This was a large discus of almond-flake-topped tart, with a judicious amount of honey poached plum, and piped-on rosettes of rum butter round the edges of the plate.

We ate every last bit and I’m very happy to have made it along here at last. My lovely creel. It tempted me in, and I didn’t want to leave.

I give it two pincers up.

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2 Shoregate, Crail, Anstruther, UK
2 Shoregate, Crail, Anstruther, UK, KY10 3ST
01333 451815
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
8/10
Value
8/10
Total
0%
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