Craig Millar @ 16 West End

Last night I was out doing my daughterly duty and spending time with my mum and aged aunts. The chat was all about sick and dead people so it was a lot like Twitter. Anyway, I left OH with instructions to find somewhere to go for lunch today. When I arrived home, full of cake and tea (delivered as it should be – in a china cup with saucer from a teapot), OH had the restaurant picked.  Craig Millar @ 16 West End in St Monans. I was a bit reticent as I knew it was going to be pricey – after all it was just for lunch and not for a special occasion. However, come the morning, it looked like perfect weather for a restaurant with a sea view – bright and very breezy! Therefore, I phoned ahead and booked a table for 1.30pm. The restaurant is the long, white building with the orange roof on the right hand side of the photo.

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When we arrived, we were asked if we wanted a drink in the bar first and ushered through to the cosy, dark bar in back. There was a coal fire burning (it may have been gas) and the walls, which looked like they were covered in original thickly embossed wallpaper were adorned with old black and white photographs of St Monans. Once we had ordered our drinks we were given the lunch menu. There was a (very) set lunch menu of Onion and Cheese Tart, Hake and Puy Lentils with mushrooms and Pannacotta with mango sorbet for £18 or the other menu, which offered 3 choices for each course at £22 for 2 courses and £26 for 3.

Soon we were taken back through to the restaurant, which in stark contrast to the bar was light, airy and had a spectacular view of the Forth. The waves were crashing around us as the waitress brought us some bread, a small round parmesan roll and a slice of foccaccia with rosemary.

When our starters arrived OHs looked very pretty and the photo of his Pea Mousse, pickled mushroom, pea cream and  toasted foccaccia really doesn’t do it justice. ImageHe gave me a wee taste (and then blamed me for the rest of the meal for the green stain he left on the pristine white tablecloth!). I thought the mousse was a bit dull but with the tang from the vinegary mushrooms and the crispy bite of the foccaccia it all came together. OH raved about it saying it was just like posh mushy peas, which he loves. I had opted for the Pig’s Cheek and Puy Lentil, carrot, honey and ginger puree. The presentation was lovely but I felt the addition of a small oatcake wouldn’t have went amiss as the mix of cheek and lentils had the consistency of pate. However, that aside it tasted gorgeous and we were both happy with our starters. Image   OH had to ask the waitress the name of the Japanese mushrooms that had been pickled but she couldn’t tell us at that point but the ensuing conversation led her to say that “Craig doesn’t really do vegetables – he does things with vegetables”, which I thought was the perfect way of describing his cooking. (by the way, it turns out they were shimeji mushrooms.)

For our main courses I opted for Cod with Thai Coconut and Mussel Chowder and OH had Braised Ox Cheek, Truffle Gnocchi and Root Vegetables. My meal was perfectly balanced – the coconut was very subtle, which isn’t a bad thing when you’ve had a nasty one night stand with a bottle of Malibu in 1984. The cod was firm and broke into large flakes that mixed well with the potato mash it sat on and the mussel chowder complimented it all beautifully.Image

OH’s Ox cheek fell apart under his fork and he says he enjoyed every minute of the rich meat. The gnocchi weren’t too heavy or doughy and were a welcome accompaniment to the cheek instead of boring old potatoes. He also says it was the perfect portion size. I sneaked another wee taste and although I could appreciate it was cooked to perfection it was too strong a taste for me so I was glad I had went for the cod.

Just in case you are wondering the other option was Sea Bass, Israeli cous cous and satay sauce.

I’ve probably already mentioned I’m not a pudding person and if I hadn’t of been on call (which means no wine for me) I would have ordered the cheese board that I could see others ordering as it looked like a great mix of cheeses with biscuits and quince. OH, on the other hand, always needs something sweet to finish off his meal so he opted for Mint Chocolate Cremeux  and Malt Ice Cream. (Chocolate Cremeux is something between a chocolate sauce and chocolate mousse and pretty much means ‘just chocolate creamy’). Again OH raved about it (I’ve asked him to describe it and he says yes it was really nice I enjoyed it :S).  Image

He then ordered coffee and it came with 2 decent sized pieces of fudge and 2 little discs of shortbread. I love it when I don’t order coffee or tea but still get the fudge – restaurants should get another award for that added attention to detail, something like The Bean awarded to restaurants that remember not everyone is a coffee drinker.

Of course I had to visit the toilets. Interestingly, there is a well next to the restrooms and if you peer over the edge you can see water far below. I’m sorry to say the loos were a tad disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, they were spotlessly clean and perfectly adequate just not up to the high standards of the restaurant. A spot of hand cream and some small cloth towels would have made all the difference.

The bill came to £60.75 (not incl tip)

Lunch  – £48,  Drinks –  £12.75

All in all, Craig Millar is definitely worth a visit. The service was faultless, the food fantastic, fresh and fishy and the views spectacular. However, I’d keep it for a special occasion, on a day when the sea is at it’s best.  7 ½/10

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