Valentines Day is almost upon us! That special day in the year when men (and women) are expected to flex their romantic muscles and impress the special person in their life.
Flowers and chocolates are all very well but for me nothing beats being taken out for a special meal. Somewhere warm and intimate, preferably with the involvement of a candle or two – I am a sucker for traditional romance.
But where to go? In St Andrews, there is certainly no shortage of restaurants, but for a Valentines meal you want somewhere that feels that little bit special and I have a few suggestions that might just fit the bill.
THE DOLL’S HOUSE
The Doll’s House on Church Square specialises in traditional French and Scottish cuisine. Set on two levels, this popular restaurant uses fresh seasonal produce which its changing menu reflects.
Why choose the Doll’s House for a romantic rendezvous? Well it ticks my candle box for one thing … plus the ambience is very warm and relaxed. With well-spaced tables, it is perfect for an intimate meal and the staff are friendly without being obtrusive (very important for the occasion, I feel).
Let me tell you that the food at The Doll’s House is rather superb as well. On my most recent visit I enjoyed one of the most delicious pieces of salmon I have had the fortune to have on my plate! Simple food cooked to perfection.
The Doll’s House are rolling out a Special Valentines Menu – £26.95 for three courses which is pretty good value for money in my book. Unlike some set menus the options are pretty extensive with a choice of five starters, five mains and five desserts. I am particularly tempted by the ‘Pigs cheek and foie gras wellington with squash purée and five spice gravy’ and I would consider falling off the diet wagon for one night to sample the ‘Dark chocolate Marquis, candied pineapple and vanilla crème fraîche’ (well who wouldn’t).
RUFFLETS COUNTRY HOUSE HOTEL
So your partner is willing to dig a little bit deeper into the old wallet. One of my top romantic tips in that case would be to jump in a taxi (well you will be drinking champagne won’t you?) and head to the Rufflets Country House Hotel which is one of the oldest established country house hotels in Scotland and is only a few minutes outside of the town on the Strathkinness Low Road.
Country house hotel and romance go hand in hand don’t they, and add to that the fact that it is set in beautiful grounds and boasts a 2AA Rosette rated restaurant and you know you are in for a treat. Rufflets are also offering a fantastic Valentine’s Break this year (see photo!)
In the restaurant, wood panelling, warm terracotta walls and crisp white linen with views out to the fabulous gardens really go some way to making you feel that you are somewhere special, and because there is not the hubbub of the street outside you can easily imagine you and your loved one have sneaked off to the back of beyond – splendid!
It goes without saying that the food at the Terrace Restaurant is stupendous – and before your wallet runs off in fright, you may be pleased to learn that it is not overly pricey either.
Rufflets offers a themed table d’hôte menu for £39.50 per person. The menu changes daily but this is the sort of calibre you can expect: How about starting with ‘Home-smoked fillet of venison, frisée, Parmesan, truffle oil’ followed by ‘Breast of free range chicken, fregola sarda, chorizo, herbs, wilted rocket’ and then to finish ‘Vanilla crème brulée, whisky jelly, butter shortbread, popping candy’.
THE PEAT INN
Six miles out of town and a little pricier – but boy is it special. You know things are hotting up if they take you to the Peat Inn for a meal.
The 5 star Peat Inn is dripping with awards and accolades and they deserve every one of them in my humble opinion. Intimate, luxurious, relaxed, comfortable – these are just a few words I would use to describe this venue.
The restaurant is split into three small dining areas which further adds to the cosy ambiance. That’s all very well but is the food as good as the awards suggest – hell yes!
Unfortunately on Valentines Day itself it will have to be a lunch at the Peat Inn, as a little bird tells me that dinner on the big night is all booked up (told you it was good).
They are doing a special set lunch menu for £25 or a four course Chefs Lunch for £45. ‘Roast fillet of pork, fondant potatoes, chorizo, caramelised apples, shallot puree and Calvados sauce’ is the sort of food you could be eating at The Peat Inn. The food is to die for.
These are my recommendations for a spot of romantic dining in and around St Andrews but to be honest you are spoilt for choice. Some other restaurants well worth a mention are:
Nahm Jim – a Thai restaurant really worth shouting about!
The Glass House – lovely Italian food in a relaxed contemporary restaurant.