Winter in St Andrews can be wild, with the wind and sometimes the rain, and this woolly-hat weather can be dramatic, especially by the seashore.
But there aren’t many better activities to do in St Andrews during the colder months than a brisk walk along West Sands.
It well and truly blows the cobwebs away and makes you appreciate a cosy evening by the fire.
It also builds an appetite and readies you for a sumptuous roast. In a town which is now renowned for its dining options it is sadly lacking in the Sunday Roast department.
This gap in the market has now been filled.
Introducing The Seafood Ristorante.
The architecture in St Andrews is largely Victorian and Edwardian, and when a modern building is constructed it invariably causes commotion among the locals. The Café at the British Golf Museum and the Links Clubhouse are two such examples which saw many St Andreans get their knickers in a twist about ‘compromising’ the view.
Tucked behind the British Golf Museum and adjacent to the St Andrews Aquarium, in the shadow of the magnificent houses of The Scores is the unique Seafood Ristorante.
Opened as The Seafood Restaurant by Tim Butler in 2003, it was purchased by 22-year-old entrepreneur Stefano Pieraccini.
Stefano is the son of Adrian, former owner of the Rocca Restaurant at the Rusacks Hotel, and family invested over £100,000 into the business to boost the number of covers to 80 and to increase staffing to around 30.
After a short closure for refurbishment, the restaurant reopened as The Seafood Ristorante, serving seafood with an Italian twist.
The shape and look of the building did not change during the refurbishment, and hence, as someone until this review had never stepped foot inside, I had not changed my expectations.
I had thoughts that being in the restaurant I would feel ‘exposed’ or ‘cold’ and ‘soulless’. The reality was nothing like that, and the refurbishment has made it feel intimate, comfortable, fun and relaxed.
The new layout has made best use of the building’s floor space and the furniture is comfortable. Whilst I am certain dining here during the summer is spectacular, with a sunny day and a flat calm sea I have to say that on a winter’s day this was a dramatic experience with the tide rushing in and the waves crashing against the rocks.
This made the experience a little like being on a ship in the ocean, which just added to the image of this being the best seafood restaurant in Scotland.
A highly talented team is led by head chef, Davy Aspin, who previously worked with Gordon Ramsey. The Michelin Star chef also ran the kitchen at the Rocca Restaurant at the Rusacks Hotel.
They launched the Bollinger Sunday Lunch menu in October and we visited on Remembrance Sunday, 11 November,
We were given a warm welcome by Stefano and his team and the service throughout was first class, without being overbearing.
We were seated at a sea-facing table and began with a glass of Bollinger Champagne and Home Baked Bread & Cicchetti to share. This gave us the opportunity to peruse the menu.
On the subject of champagne, I have had an interesting experience with it in the past.
When I worked at the New Golf Club we had a grand reopening following refurbishment of the clubhouse after the fire which forced closure and refurbishment in 2016.
We provided champagne for those attending, and with a full tray left over at the end of the night me and two colleagues sat down at the end of a hard night’s work for a sip.
Somehow my colleagues had just six of the eighteen glasses between them, leaving the remaining twelve for me. Yes, I am sure you can guess what happened next. When we left the club and went out into the rather fresh air, I almost instantly threw up what I had drunk, at the entrance to the club.
I received a large amount of stick from my “more experienced” colleague, and very little sympathy! Thankfully this time it was one glass and no ‘accidents’ on this occasion!
To start my companion for the meal had House Smoked Salmon & East Neuk Crab served with caviar and sour cream bilini's. This tasty, melt-in-the-mouth dish tickled her taste buds.
I had the Shetland Mussels served with a white wine and garlic cream sauce.
British Mussels are at their most succulent during the winter months, and these were certainly no exception! However, I would say for a starter portion there were a few too many, I couldn’t finish the dish, but this is a minor point.
Following our Bollinger Champagne, I had a bottle of Bright Spark IPA and my companion had a glass of Castel Firmian Sauvignon Blanc from Trentino in Italy. Now, following from my champagne story my companion will be reminded to in future bring her pillow as afternoon drinking makes her a little tired!
For mains I went for the Roast Rib of Scotch Beef served with a Yorkshire Pudding, Cauliflower with a cheese and white wine sauce, Broccoli and a sweet gravy sauce.
This was the embodiment of a good Sunday roast, but served with a modern twist. The portion size complimented the slightly larger starter and left me feeling all warm and relaxed.
My companion had the Scrabster Plaice served with"potted shrimps", sprouting broccoli and blade mace. This was a delicate dish and the shrimps were tasty and full of flavour.
The mains left us feeling full and satisfied, but I couldn’t resist a pudding, to complete a perfect experience. It leapt out at me from the menu, mainly because so few places do it anymore. Bread and Butter Pudding.
But this wasn’t any ordinary Bread and Butter pudding. This was exquisite and delightful. The sweet toffee top melts in the mouth and the poached apricot and clotted cream complimented it splendidly.
Splendid! I got it in, it’s a word I have become renowned for using, and gives my friend a good laugh. But its too true, the Seafood Ristorante is Splendid.
For those who got their knickers in a twist about a new building in an ancient town, I suggest you put them on your head, as your opinion is pants!
The Seafood Ristorante is a perfect place to enjoy a splendid Sunday afternoon! Oops there it is again! Splendid!
Review by Matt Hooper accompanied by Claire Campbell with thanks to James Cantlie.