The day: 8th December 2008, Dinner.
The place: Pilmour Links Saint Andrews, KY16 (tel: 0870 400 8128)
The venue: Rusacks Hotel and restaurant
The food: Modern British/French
The drinks: Quite well stocked on French wines, good range of prices

We did not come to St. Andrews, Fife, to play golf, a sport (a sport?) about which we know nothing. But we must admit that, overlooking the green with one of the most famous golf ‘holes’ in the world, and then the ravishingly beautiful beaches and sea beyond, the Rusacks Hotel dining room, with its slightly retro elegance

makes us feel comfortable and relaxed,
notwithstanding the golf types surrounding us 🙂

The short, well-designed menu offers a few choices in each category. We note a Crotin of goat cheese, Caramelised red onion, Pithiver (£6.25) among the starters, and the Slow cooked pork belly, Granny Smith apple puree, Boulangere potato, Winter vegetables, Cider sauce (£15.95) among the mains.

While we examine the menu, some bread arrives.

A choice of four varieties from a tray (granary brown, ciabatta, tomato, olive). Here’s our selection:
More than passable, it’s accompanied not only by butter, but also –a pleasant surprise for us- by olive oil. We confine ourselves to a mere tasting (for dietary reasons), and we are even more pleasantly surprised to discover it’s of good quality. We’d like to tell them that it would be better to serve the balsamic vinegar separately, and not already mixed (forming an emulsion) with the oil, but never mind…we’re in Scotland, not in the Mediterranean, so do as the Scots do.

No amuse bouche arrives.

Here are our starters:

– Pickled red mullet, fennel salad, sauce grabiche (£6.50)

– Classic moules mariniere (£6.95)
The mullet portion is ridiculous, basically an amuse bouche. But we appreciate the prettiness, and especialy the pickling which provides sweet and sour notes at the same time decisive and balanced, as well as the freshness of the sauce. Pleasant.

The moules are not as tender and meaty and sea-infused as they can be and as we expected in a place like St. Andrews, but are not too bad either, immersed as they are in a competently made sauce.

And next here are our mains:

– Panfried cod fillet, smoked bacon and Puy lentils, sage veloute (£16.95)

– Grilled Scottish Ribeye steak (8oz) (£19.00)
The beef offers some depth of flavour and an agreeable texture, coming from it being of good quality and having been hung properly (21 days). The chips are real, thick cut chips, another level compared to what we endured recently here, and assembled in the plate with solid Northern grace. What are the cherry tomatoes doing in here? It’s December, for godsake. Anyway, how persuasive, luscious, tasty is the sauce, providing a good peppery background for the beef (this is Man speaking: it’s a bit TOO peppery for Woman). And even the mushroom offers full flavour. Another enjoyable dish, though we made the mistake of accepting the waiter’s insistent recommendation that we have it medium rare (instead of rare as we like it: but we are always wary of contradicting the waiter, he may know things we don’t…), with the result that in the end it was drier than we savage carnivores like.

The cod is a bit muted, but it’s cooked sympathetically. The puy lentils, also cooked well and with the velvety sauce which carries the flavours delicately and far, complete this simple looking but perfectly satisfying dish.

To conclude, here are our desserts:

– Chocolate three ways (£5.95)

– Apple Bavaroise, Cinnamom ice cream (£5.50)
The three ways of the chocolate are an ice-cream (intense), a white chocolate ‘cheese cake’ (very good), and a tarte au chocolate (buttery, pleasant, brownie-like). The combination of flavours and textures is well judged, the whole rather satisfying (expecially if you consider that by this time we were worried about death by starvation…).

In the bavaroise, the cinnamon ice cream was delightful, playing nicely texture-wise with the bavaroise (note also the dried apple splice), which in fact was verging on a mousse. This and the previous desserts bordered on the seriously good territory.

With a bottle of 0.75 litres of water at a ludicrous £5 (ok, we insisted on bottled water because we know restaurants need the markup, but there is a limit to everything: next time we’re getting tap water), and an unremarkable Pinot Noir Robert Skalli 2006 at £24.50, the total came to a reasonable £89.00, good value also in comparison with the local prices for this level of cuisine. No service charge is added.

The service was polite and formal, even with some smiles and human touches, very nice but lacking a bit of agility when multitasking (there was a looong wait when they had to serve a large table).

While this is by no means a destination restaurant which you should travel many miles to go to, it is a good hotel restaurant to exploit once you are there; a venue with a very competent if unspectacular cuisine, produced by a chef who knows his way very well around French technique, decent materials, and an extremely pleasant physical environment. (We also tried their breakfast and came out happy).

2 comments on “Rusacks

  1. Loving Annie says:

    Man-woman : A good way to explain who should go there. Not a destination, but a place to enjoy if you are already there.A gorgeous view of golf course and beaches/sea is such an enticing setting for a hotel restaurant.Definitely sounded like a mixed experience at dinner. (I’d never let a waiter talk me out of how I liked my meat cooked -it’s always rare for me.)Glad breakfast was good.Happy upcoming New Year 2009 to you both :)Genuinely,Loving Annie

  2. Man-Woman says:

    And Happy New Year to you, Annie (sorry for the delay, we are traveling a lot and everything has been on autopublish for a while…).And you are right: never let a waiter talk you out of your favourite cooking style!m&w

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