Restaurant review: Forgan’s, St Andrews

Inside Forgan's, in St Andrews. Picture: Ian MacNicol

Inside Forgan's, in St Andrews. Picture: Ian MacNicol

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The menu is pleasantly and comfortingly MOR rather than thrilling

Windy Knoll Golf Club in Ohio recently acquired a pair of hovercraft carts, which golfers can use to traverse the greens and glide over water features. Only seven and a half months until the Ryder Cup 2014 at Gleneagles, and look how far things have come.

Consider this: back in the 18th century, golfers used the equivalent of a wooden spatula to thwack what resembled a stale wholemeal roll. Now, Tiger Woods wields a carbon steel club that can be yours for around £500.

This new restaurant, owned by Glasgow’s G1 Group, was once a Forgan golf club factory – the oldest “cleek” maker in the world, dating back to the 1860s.

It’s a wooden warehouse of a building, with an interior that’s designed by Jim Hamilton of Graven Images, who’s also responsible for the look of another couple of newish St Andrews venues, Mitchell’s Deli and The Vic (both also owned by G1 Group) as well as Edinburgh’s Tigerlily and Glasgow’s Corinthian Club.

Mercifully, there is no clubhouse theme. Instead, they’ve gone for something that’s a bit Boden catalogue-y. Think friendly farmers’ market, with taxidermied cow heads on the wall (alas, poor Daisy), separate “bothy” areas with their own wood burning stoves, pendant lights made of fishing nets and grass-green velvet cushions on the country kitchen chairs. There’s also a community vibe, with a full calendar of crafting events, book clubs, quizzes and children’s activities. It’s a formula that works, as this place was rammed and we had to queue for the table we’d booked for a very late lunch.

Once our silent nagging had dislodged the previous sitting, an American waitress led us to our pew. Throughout the meal, she made us feel as if we were doing her a real favour by being there and that every decision we made was utter genius. I love her.

The menu is pleasantly and comfortingly MOR rather than thrilling.

Our white peppery lamb and rosemary broth (£5.25), served in a vintage china bowl, was fine, though way too hearty for a starter and not particularly flavoursome. Content-wise, it featured loads of creamy pearl barley, nibs of lamb, carrot and celery, all floating in a tooth-coloured broth. Nice rosemary croutons on top; cold butter and two slices of stodgy bread on the side.

The slightly dry cock-a-leekie terrine (£5.95) consisted of thick wads of compacted chicken breast plastered together with a prune paste, and a moat of wholegrain mustard dressing. I couldn’t find any leekies.

I’d accidentally gone for double chook, with another helping of chicken (£12.95). This was a comparative corker though – a wet and singe-skinned breast, with bubble-topped dauphinoise potatoes (which were more like the boulangere variety), crisp green beans and a thyme-infused gravy.

Drizzled with balsamic, the fillet 
of sea bass (£12.95) had skin like 
wet gaffer tape. Apart from that, it was passable, as was the accompanying aubergine, fennel and chorizo stew, which was tomatoey and smoky.

For dessert, the chocolate cup (£5.95), served in a cappuccino cup, turned out to be a rather granular milk choco mousse, but I loved the topping of glossy, boozy, kirsch-marinated cherries. Our sticky date pudding (£5.95) was much better –like sticky toffee’s better looking and more sophisticated older brother. Lots of golden sugary syrup and decent vanilla ice-cream. We likey.

This place isn’t bad, but, to use golfing terms, the food is slightly under par. Mind you, only a divot or a duffer would say it was way too rough for tee. Sorry.

The verdict

How much?

Lunch for two, excluding drinks: £49

FOOD: 6.5/10

AMBIENCE: 8/10

TOTAL: 14.5/20

110 Market Street, 
St Andrews 
(01334 466973, www.forgans.co.uk)

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