Mitchell's Deli 110-112 Market Street, St Andrews (01334 441396, www.mitchellsdeli.co.uk) How much? Dinner for two, excluding drinks, £37.75
Writing this review, applying lipstick, peeling potatoes, and taking a conference call. Yeah, I can multitask (well, I can try, even if it means that my mash and make-up are wonky).
Doing a bunch of jobs at once is an essential skill during straitened times, and nobody knows it more than restaurateurs. These days, if you limit your custom to weekday evenings, or the occasional lunch sitting, then you may as well have a good greet while you pack away your Sabatier knives.
It seems that the folk behind Mitchell's Deli, named after the Murray Mitchell butcher shop which occupied the site from 1926 to 2008, are well aware of this. This place is open from 8am-10pm and provides an adjacent deli, as well as an eating space offering breakfasts, lunches, dinners, teas, late live music and a general hangout for Fife's hipsters.
Its interior, which has been designed by Jim Hamilton from Graven Images, seems to have been inspired by a Hogwarts lost property office. There are banquettes made from deconstructed tweedy jerkins, a luggage rack holding a battered antique suitcase, white tiles and ash tables.
The menu offers soups and antipasti platters for starters, and around five main courses. From the latter, I opted for the slow-roast spring chicken stew (9.95), while my dining partner, Rolf, fancied the oak-smoked haddock (9.95), and we shared a crispy duck salad (9.95).
The waitress had warned us, but the salad dish was about as salady as a packet of bourbons. It was served in a Chinese take-away box stuffed with a matted wad of noodles, tons of moist shredded duck, plus chopped coriander and chilli, all slathered in a compulsively sticky sweet hoi sin-style sauce. This was a bit like the tale of The Magic Porridge Pot, in that the contents seemed to be regenerating and, thus, never ending.
In order to fit it in, Rolf managed to find gastric cavities that he didn't even know he had.
He also managed to put away his main, which consisted of an undyed, oaky-tasting fish fillet. Its simple accompaniments included buttery slices of potato and squeaky green beans, as well as a poached egg, with a yolk that was the colour of a lollipop lady's jacket, and a sprinkling of parsley. A simple dish, with stacks of comfort-foody flavour.
My main was a little less successful. There was tons of extremely chickeny chicken, in a very good, rich stock dotted with thyme, pearly silverskin onions, carrot and celery. Also, the roast new potatoes were great, with toasty skins. However, this dish was warm in bits, and cold in others. I asked the waitress if they could heat it up, and they did, but when the dish was returned to me, some of it was steaming hot, while other areas were barely tepid.
As far as the sweet courses go, I couldn't resist the granny-style dish that is clootie dumpling (3.95). It was lovely, too – a good slice of mahogany-coloured suety stodge, with that signature mammalian skin. This came with a puddle of unashamedly yellow custard.
When we enquired about the name of Rolf's dessert choice – "Sheena's cheesecake" (3.95) – we were told that it's named after the woman who they buy their puddings from. I'm not sure if it's a great idea to advertise that your cakes aren't made in house, but still, well done Sheena. This option was a frothy piece of fromagey fluff, studded with crushed Oreos. It scratched a sugary itch.
Post-dinner, and they're quite happy to let you linger. While we finished our drinks we played Connect 4, which we discovered after noticing a label marked Open Me in our table's drawer. We also filched around in the banquette's pockets, as guests have stuffed daft notes into the jerkins.
This was fun, as was the decent eating. It turns out that this is the sort of multitasking venue for multitaskers like us. We'll be back – for lunch, brunch, or afternoon tea.