St Andrews’ reputation is that of an utterly romantic town. I was told in my first week at the large Faculty of Arts welcome ceremony that one in ten of us would meet our future spouse during our four years here, and inevitably William and Kate were cited as the example. The town certainly lends itself to a majestic, whimsical character. When the sun is shining, the crumbling medieval buildings, cobblestone streets and beautiful sunsets and rises seem straight out of a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale.
It’s all well and good to wander the streets and beaches hand-in-hand, but what happens when your blood sugar gets low? A stroll on the beach seems like a good idea until the sun goes down, it’s cold, you’re a mile down West Sands and your date is hungry. A food crisis can rattle the most stable couple’s date plans, so to me any romantic gesture must include a feast. Fortunately, St Andrews offers a range of foodie destinations suitable for all manner of palettes and budgets for this Valentine’s Day.
The Vine Leaf
The Vine Leaf’s unremarkable streetfront view barely reveals its warm wooden interiors and delectable menu, features that make it one of the most romantic atmospheres in this town. Their menu has a huge range of options, catering to omnivores, pescatarians and vegetarians – a virtue, since I can’t imagine there’s anything worse than taking someone to a steakhouse and then learning they only eat soybeans (but if you want to go to a steakhouse, should you really be dating a vegan?). Anyway, this restaurant is a special-date favourite amongst friends of mine, so if you feel like splurging, this is your best bet.
The Seafood Restaurant
Atmosphere-wise, The Seafood Restaurant is one of the best establishments I’ve visited. If you’re in St Andrews, take advantage of all it has to offer: take in The Scores, the beach and the sea all at once, with some delicious food. They have a few tasting menu options in addition to a regular a la carte menu, so there is plenty of choice.
If you want to go without splurging, however, why not do a lunch date and take advantage of their two-course, £12.95 special? (The menu is up on their Facebook page every day.) Since the sun is still setting at five at this time of year, I’d recommend soaking up the view during daylight hours.
I know it’s a bit of a cliché, which saddens me, but I truly believe that there is no better way to show someone you care about them than to cook for them. If you’re an experienced cook, great! If not, this is all the more reason to whip up a meal – that you went out of your way to track down recipes, buy ingredients with which you may be unfamiliar and navigate your way around the kitchen shows a lot. As a fairly comfortable cook, I love when someone kicks me out of the kitchen and forces me to relax. With the new St Andrews Wine Company open on Bell Street, why not pick up something nice, special order a filet of beef from the butcher and make life easy for yourself by getting some advice on a cheese plate for dessert from one of our local cheesemongers?
These are, of course, all options for any other day of the year, or for a nice meal with a parent or friend. Sometimes this town places a bit too much emphasis on its romantic whimsy, especially for those of us dealing with February 15th deadlines. If you’re not in a Will and Kate-esque romance, do one or all of the above with one or two or ten friends.