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
7.5/10
Total
0%
December 21, 2023

The Steak Barn, Balgove Larder, St Andrews, restaurant review - escape the festive shopping scrum with a hearty lunch

Except big portions at this former sawmill

The most wonderful time of year can be very draining.

There are only a handful of sleeps left, but I’d like to have a lie down in a dark room and hibernate right through. Wake me up when Santa arrives.

At Balgove Farm Shop, customers are frantically filling baskets with last-minute stocking fillers. Those who’ve had enough of the fray, like us, can skulk off to this former sawmill.

It feels a bit like a secret club, as you enter via draped tarpaulin panels, which cover the entrance to the cavernous space.

It’s full of wooden tables made from reclaimed beech, there are hot air blowers pumping, the BBQ is fired up, and the light is as blissfully low as a manger.

Food is served from Friday to Sunday, noon until 9pm. And, there are no decorations and zero sprouts on the menu, hooray.

They just stick to what they’re good at – steaks, from their own butchery, as well as a few additional dishes.

We tread carefully, when it comes to starters.

We could see what was on other diners’ tables, and realised how hefty portions are. Thus, we shared the bang bang Crail cauliflower (£9.50), and dodged the sticky chicken wings (£8.95) and Scottish mussels (£9.95).

It was the correct thing to do, as this was a huge sharing dish, served on a slate. From above, it resembled a drone shot of an entire forest. The lightly battered and parsley-scattered florets retained their bite and were varnished with an addictive sweet, vinegary and slightly spicy sauce.

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For the purposes of this review, only one of us could have the steak. They have a choice of fillet, rib-eye (£27.95), sirloin (£24.95) or rump (£23.95).

As I’m a soft touch and was in a goodwill-to-all-men sort of mood, I let him go for the 8oz fillet (£33.70). I planned to share, even though he’d asked for it medium, which was sacrilegious. Despite being cooked to his specifications, this was a gorgeous and bouncy piece of meat, and the knife cut through it like scissors sliding through a piece of wrapping paper.

He’d ordered the garlic and herb butter on the side, and this dish comes with ordinary chips, but he’d upgraded for an additional £2.75 to their truffle and Parmesan versions, which were coated in a drift of cheese. There was also a side of Loch Leven Brewery beer-battered onion rings (£3.50) - five gold rings that were the size of bangles, and had a well-seasoned bubbly batter.

We also tried the main course of chicken kebab (£18.95), which was a bit dull compared to the red meat option. There were nine chunks of char-surfaced breast meat, all threaded onto a metal skewer, with a sweet chilli dip on the side. The accompanying twice-fried chips were fat and golden, and there was a handful of dressed leaves.

Next time, I’m getting the steak.

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There are puddings here (all £5.95 each), but they continue the hearty theme. I’m talking the stodgy pudding trinity of sticky toffee, apple crumble, or chocolate brownie with Luvians Vanilla Pod Ice-Cream. At the marginally lighter end of the scale, there was a chocolate mousse and boozy ice-cream, which was topped by a shot of Ogilvy Creme de Cassis, Magnum Single Malt Cream Liquer or Pedro Ximinez. We had a confab, but decided we could only really manage to imbibe oxygen or water after our protein-heavy feast.

To get a bit of both, we went for a walk around St Andrews in the rain.

Once we felt ready to tackle something sweet, our destination was lifestyle shop and cafe Spoiled Life (15 Greyfriars Gardens, www.spoiledlife.co.uk), which also sells excellent coffee - two flat whites (£3.50 each) please - which isn’t too easy to find in the town.

Their Basque cheesecake (£4.10) was a beauty, with flecks of vanilla in its white mousse-y middle, and the carrot and walnut loaf (£3.90) had a buttery chestnut-coloured crumb and a thick layer of cream cheese frosting.

Thankfully, all that sugar brought me out of hibernation mode.

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I’m ready for the final countdown. I promise not to sleep through it. 

St Andrews KY16 9SF, UK
St Andrews KY16 9SF, UK, KY16 9SF
01334 898 145
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
7/10
Food
7.5/10
Service
8/10
Value
8/10
Total
0%
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