A SPUD in a jaunty wig. From my byline picture you can probably tell I’m not photogenic.
The Adamson, 127 South Street, St Andrews
(01334 479191, www.theadamson.com)
How much? Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £58.45
All visual records feature me thus: one eye half closed and looking irritable; snapped unawares with my mouth ajar; smiling maniacally, peepers popping out their sockets, thus resembling one of the aliens in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks!
Perhaps Dr John Adamson (1809-1870) could have found my best side.
In 1841, this physician and pioneer photographer took the first calotype portrait (a photographic process, named after kalos, the Greek word for “beautiful”) in Scotland. According to the blue plaque outside, he lived at 127 South Street, St Andrews, from 1848-1865. In 1907 his shortbread-coloured former home became the local post office.
Last year, it was taken over by trendy bistro and bar The Adamson. Inside, there’s a slick, branded feel. Against a backdrop of wood, bare red brick and chocolate leather, you’ll find a vitrine of vintage cameras, inky paintings by artist William Johnstone which resemble Rorschach tests, and an open kitchen, where you can watch their variously burnt and blistered band of young chefs.
The menu features a mish-mash of styles, with Thai green curry alongside steaks, pasta and Sunday roasts. It’s the kind of jack-of-all-continents food list that scares me a little, but starters were good. The sea-salted chicken liver parfait (£7.50), which resembled a neat slice of Battenburg (with a buttery shell in lieu of marzipan), was as silky as a pair of 1920s smalls. It came with two uniform squares of brioche and a blob of chutney, which had been billed as grape, but tasted more like rhubarb. Still, fab.
A large bowlful of smoked haddock and leek risotto (£6.50) was creamy, with shards of Parmesan, chives and a decent contingent of smoky fishy bits.
One could ALMOST forgive the fact that its all-important “poached soft egg” ingredient featured a hard yolk. Almost.
I should have read the first temperature mishap as a portent, like a portly mouse roly-polying out of your larder, as my blackened salmon (£14.50) had a centre that was cold and gelatinous.
A shame, as its cooked outer echelons were great, with a sooty, Cajun-style dusting of chilli and paprika spice. This was accessorised by a spring onion-dotted pile of crushed champ potato, sprigs of cress, a whorl of balsamic syrup, and herby halves of sweet air-dried tomato.
Our other main course – slow-braised beef bourguignon (£15.50) – consisted of a fez-sized patty of slightly dry meat. Also on the plate: a cushion of pale yellow mash, as well as a puddle of thin golden jus, which was caramel sweet rather than winey or particularly stocky. The latter featured flotsam of pearl onions, lardons and mushroom slivers. Overall, we likey.
I was warned that my pudding – apple crumble souffle with cinnamon ice-cream (£7.50) – might take 20 minutes or so. “Because it’s made from scratch,” said the waitress, somewhat unecessarily. It took less than 15 minutes to arrive. However, apart from the toasted lid, it was almost completely uncooked.
Although it’s fine for a souffle to be, as the French say, baveuse (or drooling) in the middle, this was a vanilla-flavoured broth. I ate the ice-cream, sent the little copper pot back, and almost felt like Blackadder’s Queenie, as the staff were so wonderfully grovelly and mortified. It was taken off the bill, and I was offered a replacement.
Our other dessert – white chocolate and raspberry mousse with lemon biscotti (£6.95) – was dandy, with all the appropriate contrasts between insulin-bothering chocolate and tart berries. No biscotti, though.
I got the distinct impression that The Adamson’s kitchen wasn’t firing on all cylinders on our visit. The mistakes were real doofus ones, like when you put both feet down one trouser leg.
If only the egg yolk had been soft, the souffle and salmon harder, I’d be saying watch the birdie. As it stands, they’re not quite ready for their close-up.