Graduation is close for the current fourth years, but it’s you third years I’m looking at, yes you, who need to start thinking about booking places for your family to stay, and more importantly eat next June. We will have finally finished dissertations and exams, survived grad trip, received that shiny roll of paper and enthusiastically hopped on the PH.
If your extended family is going to grill you for your 5-year plan, you better at least be enjoying the food. What better way to celebrate than to have an amazing meal you won’t be able to afford post-graduation? For your convenience I have complied a perfect list of restaurants in and around the town.
1. The Adamson
A St. Andrews classic for celebrating, especially when your parents are paying. If you haven’t been in a while the new bar space, well ok about a year old now, is totally worth checking out. So while you’re waiting for your table, grab some cool cocktails from the Adamson drinks menu. The Tiki Cloud, pictured here, is a great choice with that eerie dry ice steam or the smoky old fashioned version with real applewood smoke.
For a more simple option, and my personal favorite, they make a mean “east side” – a gin drink with lime and mint, perfect for those sunny June days during graduation week. Though the Adamson will be serving up a special graduation menu for the week, their Shetland mussels are a must try — at least get an order to share so your guests can try this Scottish deliciousness.
You can find this restaurant two doors down from the Adamson, with a totally different feel. Run by a super personable St. Andrean couple for nearly 30 years, the Vine Leaf has a really special homey vibe. If local/seasonal food is what you’re after — fresh herbs and berries come from their very own garden, and their local fisherman friend Shane catches lobsters daily for the restaurant. Their menu has an absolutely huge variety, so your whole entourage can tuck in.
Their rustic-modern décor has got to be the coolest in the town. With lots of little alcoves and sectioned off rooms, Forgan’s would be perfect for a bigger party where you want some space to yourself. Make sure to check out their bathrooms, no seriously, and pin your hometown on their mural map, so you can leave your mark even once you’re gone (cue the tears). They’ll have a special graduation menu as well, along with their sister restaurants like Mitchell’s and the Doll’s House.
Rocca Bar and Grill really steps up the sophistication with 5 course tasting menus and a steep, yet absolutely amazing, Graduation menu (check out this years sample here.) Their executive chef Dave Aspin has already earned one Michelin star in his career and it really shows. The homemade pastas and the steaks, from tartare to fillets, are standouts.
With graduation week overlapping with the longest days of the year, Rocca’s location adjacent to the 18th fairway will no doubt have the nicest sunset views in town, even if you book a late dinner.
The Restaurant at the Russell Hotel is definitely underrated. They serve an incredible menu that has traditionally Scottish dishes, but with a much more contemporary feel than your average Scottish inn. The restaurant is cozy, and has a super traditional St. Andrews vibe with all kinds of golfing décor and over 50 Scottish Malt Whiskys behind the bar.
Their special private dining room has walls made of wooden golf lockers, each celebrating a different golfer that has won the Open Championship on the Old course. The roast lamb is a must try, as are the steaks from Scott Brothers Butchers of Dundee.
The location itself makes it an incredible choice. It’s completely glass, perched right over West Sands, and across from the Royal and Ancient clubhouse. What even. The seafood restaurant is one of those extra classy places you only go to when your family is in town, so why not take advantage?
Their freshly caught fare can be paired with their award-winning wine list or brews from St. Andrews Brewing Co., their sister company. You really can’t go wrong, but if they have it on their graduation menu be sure to try the monkfish, it’s absolutely to-die-for.
Dinner at the Old Course hotel seems like a perfect way to finish off your years in the “home of golf”. There are two graduation-worthy options at the hotel; the sophisticated Sands Grill or a more fine-dining experience at Road Hole Restaurant. The Road Hole has a fancier menu with decadent Scottish organic food and a sommelier-chosen wine list, while the Sands Grill focuses on fresh seafood, seasonal produce and locally farmed steaks.
The view out on to the Old Course from either is spectacular. The Old Course Hotel is also a really great option for larger parties, as they have much bigger dining rooms than most places in the center of town.
The Grange is a really unique place. The adorable, quaint, traditional inn, an almost 400-year-old converted farmhouse, is completely unassuming, but their service and most importantly food is unbelievable. They will leave you raving with every course and in between with their palette cleansers.
You’ll have to take a short taxi ride up the hill just south of town, so don’t forget to book that too. The countryside location, which will be blooming with bright yellow rapeseed during graduation, adds stunning scenery. Dishes are artfully created with fresh local ingredients by Michelin style chef John Kelly. I would go on about this place forever if you let me, but I’ll let you judge this gem yourself. Be warned — the combination of small and sought-after makes it hard to get a reservation, so get booking soon if you want to secure a place.
9. The Peat Inn
We as St. Andreans are truly #blessed to have this restaurant so close to town. It’s definitely not walking distance, so if you want to enjoy advice from their sommelier definitely arrange a taxi. And honestly, the £16 taxi is worth it for this only Michelin restaurant around St. Andrews. This is presumably the last bill you’ll have to put on the rents, so might has well rack it up, right?
What looks old fashioned and traditional on the outside, is anything but once you experience the incredible food and really charming staff. The food is so gorgeously and creatively presented you won’t even want to ruin it with your fork…ok you will, but only after documenting it from literally every angle. “Dad can you move over a sec, I need to stand on your chair to really get the right shot.” If you have never been, the trip is well worth it, especially for one of your last meals in St. Andrews.