Balgove Larder – Steak Barn, St Andrews

Today OH and I paid a visit to Balgove Larder, just outside St Andrews, to have a meal in their Steak Barn.

We have seen the blackboard signs advertising the farm shop along with steak and chips on numerous occasions but had never ventured in so finding ourselves hungry outwith normal bar lunch times we decided today was the day.

When you drive in you can see Balgove Larder in front of you and a large barn to the right. The barn is made from old potato crates and inside it is full of long, communal, hand made tables and benches.  At the back of the barn you can see the wood fired BBQ where the majority of the food is cooked on. No reservations are taken so when you turn up it’s where ever there is room. However, it was not that busy so we were seated at an empty table and given our menus. A list of specials, the regular menu and a drinks one. IMAG7352

Starters were approximately £9 each and looked like smaller portions of the mains although one that jumped out was pigeon kebab, strawberries and feta salad. The special mains were roughly £18 each and there were options such as sticky bbq pork ribs, mussels, chicken kebabs and  fish and chips(£15). The regular menu had burgers, sausages and steaks. The steaks, which were £19 (the fillet was £25) are all hung for 28 days and cooked to order on the BBQ.  There were only a couple of vegetarian options but then it is a Steak Barn and not a mushroom shed.

I noticed on the drinks menu they did a Bloody Mary, which usually means it will be a good one so that was an easy decision.  The waitress asked if I wanted it spicy. Of course I did. The barman delivered it personally. Spicy was an under statement  it was rocket fuel and lush. OH had a pint of Eden Mill 19th lager.

For food I decided on the Balgove Beef Burger – steak burger, lettuce, tomato, relish, twice fried chips and salad leaves £8.95. IMAG7356The burger was easily an inch thick and the tastiest burger I have ever had. You could have added cheese, bacon or jalapenos for an extra £1.25 but I had it plain.

I hate when you have to commit to a burger because you know if you put it down you won’t be able to pick it up again in one piece. However, this bun did not collapse or slide and I was able to pick it up and put it down at will and enjoy the chips whilst they were still hot, dipping them in the relish.

OH had an 8oz Rib Eye Steak, which also came with twice fried chips and leaves. As you can see it was served on a board so of course OH had to ask with a deep sigh, “Why do we never get plates any more?”

IMAG7355OH enjoyed his steak and said it was melt in the mouth. Later when I was asking him to rate it against other steaks he has had in the past he said it was within his top 6 but what let it down was a lack of tasty vegetables alongside it. His leaves obviously didn’t impress. Like mine, his chips looked like chip shop chips but some how actually managed to taste better.

For dessert OH went for Eton Mess, which arrived as a lovely, messy dollop on a slate. IMAG7358There was plenty of everything – the raspberries were fresh and tasted home grown, the meringue was crunchy and chewy and the mess did not last long at all.

As OH was having a dessert and an Americano, which arrived in a paper cup (obviously they use the tin mugs to keep the cutlery in)  I decided to have a pint of Cairn O Mhor Pictish Cider, which made my mouth look like a cat’s ass.

As you pay your bill at the bar on the way out I asked the barman about the Bloody Mary and he said that he used special tomato juice that you can buy in the Larder that has a hint of clam to it. I couldn’t quite make out the name he said but I knew it started with a C so OH and I went over to the Larder to buy some. We searched the whole of the shop but could only find Big Tom. We spotted there was a make of soft drink called Cawston Presse and a gap in the line so I wondered if perhaps the tomato juice had sold out. Just then an older member of staff appeared so I asked if there was a Cawston tomato juice that might have sold out. She looked at me and said “I don’t stock it” and walked off without another word. And on that note we left without buying anything. Fortunately/unfortunately she was the only thing that left a bad taste in my mouth during my visit to Balgove Larder and Steak Barn.

2 mains, a dessert, 2 pints, a Bloody Mary and a coffee = £46.65


By the way, when I got home I googled the tomato juice and it was Clamato.

The Jolly Botanist, Edinburgh

OH and I were heading to Edinburgh to see Trainspotting Live at the EICC. Due to this we alighted at Haymarket (btw how many people see the sign ‘alight here for…” on a platform and read it as ‘alright’ instead?)

As we left the station the heavens opened and that damn Scottish ninja rain appeared from nowhere and made us dash into the first decent looking pub on our route. This just happened to be The Jolly Botanist on Morrison Street. As you can probably guess from it’s name it’s a gin palace so along with our menus for food we were given a gin menu, which was as thick as the current Yellow Pages.  As we got asked, maybe a little too quickly, what we would like to drink I panicked and plumped for a Hendricks and tonic. OH asked for a local ale.

The food menu was not huge – maybe a dozen items, 3 of which were vegetarian, which I prefer to an extensive menu as you know your food is going to be cooked to order. However, there was nothing jumping out at me as I either thought the dish was overpriced for something I could cook at home or it had a main ingredient I was not keen on. burgerI, therefore, decided on The Botanist Burger, which was beef, halloumi , smashed avocado and came with horseradish slaw and fries.

Yet again OH had not brought his glasses so he did what he usually does and just went with whatever special the waiter says out loud. This meant he went for the Jolly Pie of the Day, which wpieas chicken and leek (served with seasonal vegetables and hand cut chips).

Now, you might be able to see from the pics, but (like my fries) the pie came in one of those old fashioned, white with blue trim tin dishes. Like the ones your mum had to buy you if you were going on a camping trip with the guides because you needed an unbreakable plate. OH hates a filling with a pastry lid and always wants to pour the contents on to the plate rather than eating out of the dog’s dish. However, you will also notice the meals came on boards rather than plates. Hmm.

He soldiered on and liked what he had. He enjoyed the vegetables most of all, did not eat all his chips and left some of the pastry (which annoyed me because obviously that’s the best bit of a pie!)  If everything had been on a plate or if he had a beard, no socks and a waistcoat he would have enjoyed it a lot more.

My burger was great. The meat was thick, the roll did not collapse on me and the avocado worked well but the juices did run everywhere and made a mess of the leaf painted table. I liked the slaw too but the devil had sneaked into the kitchen and put celery in it. Now the fries. I loved the fries but the reason I loved them was that they came ready salted. I’ve been trying to reduce my salt intake as I have high blood pressure and since chips are rotten without salt I have been avoiding them. However, there was no avoiding these fries – they were hot, crispy, very salty and I ate the majority, much to my GPs probable disgust.

I have to mention the toilets. They were lovely, very clean and like something Drew Pritchard would have had a hand in. No – he wouldn’t have had his hand down the loo! He would have provided the wrought iron trestles the shallow, square sinks sat on, the piping for the plumbing on show and the industrial lights.  Someone had also hand painted the bottom of the toilets with a lovely blue leaf pattern.

On the way back from spending a penny I paid the bill, which came to £37.20 for the 2 mains and 2 drinks.

Incidentally, my gin was £6.50.

As soon as we left The Jolly Botanist it started to pour again so we ended up in Diane’s Pool Bar just a short distance up the street. Quite possible the exact opposite kind of place to our previous stop. OH bought the round. A gin and tonic and a pint. It was less than a fiver for both (therefore less than my 1 gin) and the pool table was only 20p. Obviously, we had to stay in there ’til the rain was well and truly off (5 games later).