Scotsman Review
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  • 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.
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August 14, 2019

Balgove Larder and Steak Barn, St Andrews, restaurant review

Catriona Thomson head downs to the farm to discover St Andrews' finest local produce and sample some superb steak served up in a rustic barn.

In my day the long summer holidays were filled with the dubious pleasures of picking raspberries, usually in the rain.

Fun times, dodging wasps for the reward of some pocket money. When I was growing up, tattie holidays meant time off school to gather spuds.

Perhaps after a no-deal Brexit we will all take annual leave to bring in the harvest, instead of relying on an army of European workers. Another childhood memory: being pointedly asked if you were raised in a barn when you left the door to the living room open, letting the heat out.

Today we are visiting a very stylish barn, just outside St Andrews, to experience dining at Balgove Larder.

This Country Life-style rural store is home to a café, florist and on-site butchery.

Outside the main hub, a steak barn dining room is located in a former sawmill, which is where we are heading.

At the front there is a sign which explains the credo:

“Good food takes time to grow, age, develop and flavour and time to cook. Our food is cooked to order over an open fire made from charcoal and wood from our farm.

"It’s a unique operation which takes special care and extra time. We want you to enjoy your meal as quickly as possible but you may need to exercise patience so we can get it just right. We think it is worth the wait.”

So on entering the spacious shed it takes a minute for your eyes to become accustomed to the dimly lit gloom while the flaming grills blaze away like a forge in full swing. It’s quite the theatrical experience.

We arrive at the start of service and watch the place quickly filling up with families and stylish couples. And any short delay just adds to the anticipation.

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The standalone barn has been refurbished with rustic potato boxes providing cladding, complete with visible stencilled farm names.

Wooden beams and utility metal lighting all add to the farmyard look. The enormous trestle tables at which we will be served are made from beech wood recycled from blown-down trees.

My farming uncle used to tease me that I was named after a potato variety, Catriona which is a second early produced by Scottish breeder Archibald Findlay, so I instinctively feel at home.

For starters we opt for a trio of vegetarian options. Fried herb and breadcrumbed rounds of tangy goat’s cheese topped with earthy beetroot chutney taste casually delicious, just like the venue.

Roast courgette, butternut squash, red onion and chickpea salad with flavoursome leaves, provides a healthy, refreshing dish ahead of the main meaty event.

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However, the clear winner is deep fried halloumi; jumbo diced cubes of salted cheese, served with a smear of wild garlic mayonnaise.

Simple, moreish and sublime.

We follow up with burgers in brioche buns. The Portobello mushroom with sliced roasted courgette, mozzarella cheese and pesto and gherkin is a treat, as is the roasted courgette and halloumi incarnation, largely because of the tangy, tasty relish on top.

Both are served on wooden boards with a mountain of twice-fried chips.

We just love the ambience here: the condiments and sauces are stored in a wooden joiner’s box, while the lavender plants on the tables are the real deal.

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Balgove Larder & Steak barn

Tables at Balgove Larder, St Andrews

Even the bathrooms feature Cowshed toiletries, while outside swallows swoop around under the eaves. You really couldn’t get more rural chic.

So far we have sampled veggie fodder but a visit here without tasting some red meat would be a crime.

The star of the whole show has to be the fella’s flat iron steak, priced at £18.95 and served with chips and leaves.

This was a shoulder blade spale bone beef steak, tenderised to perfection before being cooked on a flame. The result: a cut that is medium rare, smoky and tender – delicious.

Balgove Larder & Steak barn

Balgove Larder menu boards

If you are dining as a couple of carnivores and are feeling particularly peckish, then go for sharing platter for two of double fillet steak, finest chateaubriand, which costs £66.95.

T bone, rib eye, rump and sirloin fillet are all available and on the wall, a handy beef cut diagram is displayed so you can bone up on your meaty knowledge.

We couldn’t resist a side order of jumbo onion rings and coleslaw washed down with fizzy drinks in glass bottles with paper straws and a local golden ale from the St Andrews Brewing Company called Above & Beyond, which donates 5p to the RNLI with every can sold.

On our way out we popped into the shop to buy more boeuf from the butchery and some more ale to take home.

This place showcases the best of Fife, farm to fork. It was well worth the wait and we shall return.

Balgove Larder & Steak barn

(Strathtyrum farm, St Andrews, KY16 9SF)
Tel: 01334 898145,

Catriona is a freelance writer based in the Scottish Borders, and a nominee for Food and Drink writer at this year's Scottish Press Awards.
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