Fairmont, St Andrews

My mum treated OH and I to brunch at the Fairmont in St Andrews last Sunday. I hadn’t heard of this previously but apparently they have them on the first Sunday of each month – an all you can eat Sunday meal in plush surroundings at £32.50 per head.

Oddly, the International brunch is served between 1 and 4pm, which to me is more of a lunch time thing. This was also echoed in the food being served as there were no omelettes, no pancakes and maple syrup and no eggs Benedict, which I would have expected on a brunch menu (and would have loved). That aside however there was a myriad of other dishes on offer.

The waitress took our order of a bottle of white wine and explained how the buffet worked. We then wandered up and perused what was on offer.

The soup was Cullen Skink, which bizarrely I did not have.

At the starters section there was different kinds of slaws, pulses and nooddles (yummy). Some of the ingredients I had never heard of before and there was a lot I no longer remember but there was things like stuffed vine leaves (one of the favourites from my first trip out), brie, honey and walnuts, chicken terrine, blinis with cream cheese and caviar (I had a few of these), something like fera, beetroot and halloumi, quails eggs, a large variety of Italian cooked meats, smoked salmon, stuffed peppers, pickles, sauces and dips.

From the sea and on ice, there were langoustines (long with googly eyes), oysters, mussels (fat and juicy), prawn cocktails, roll mop herring (lush), anchovies and salmon. Next to that there was crispy duck, pancakes and hoison sauce and a whole host of savoury bon-bons.

In the centre of the room there was a variety of International main meals made with lamb, chicken, salmon, beef and vegetarian dishes so there were curries, rissottos and ragouts.

At the carvery there was roast ham and turkey (but no beef), Yorkshire puddings, pigs in blankets and gravy. At the back of the room there were dishes of buttery mash, roast potatoes, roasted root vegetables and a wealth of (not soggy) broccoli.

At the dessert station, which was like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, there was an ice cream freezer where you could make your own cones, a chocolate fountain with strawberries, crispy cakes and sponge fingers (but no skewers or cocktail sticks to stab into the strawberries so you could hold it in the fountain – I dread to think how many dirty fingernails went into the chocolate). There were also doughnuts, individual cakes, muffins, crumble, profiteroles, chocolate sponge triangles, gateaux and pretty blackcurrant and chocolate smoothies.

Obviously, by the end of my multiple trips to the various stations, I was stuffed.

One of the main things I had been looking forward to was the Bloody Mary station. However, it turned out that there wasn’t one and you had to order them from Mathew at the bar. I checked with the waitress that they were included in the brunch and all 3 of us ordered one. I asked for extra spice. When they arrived they looked really boring – long tall glasses with brown liquid at the bottom and dark red at the top. There was no stirrer or straw but a small slither of celery sliced up the stalk and perched on the top of the glass.

My suspicions were confirmed when I tried the drink – it was heavy on Worcestershire sauce and lacking in any other taste. There was no cracked black pepper or celery salt or even any chilli flakes. I struggled through it and when the waitress asked how it was I told her my concerns. She said she’d tell Mathew how to make one to my specifications and I ordered another. It wasn’t quite as bad but as I had asked for a straw or a stirrer it arrived with 2 tiny black straws that would not even have reached half way down the glass. There was also a smattering of white and brown pepper on it, I’m guessing from the pepper shaker on the table.

Of course I soldiered through it (and my mum’s who couldn’t finish her own brown vinegary drink). With hindsight it would have been lovely drizzled over some toasted cheese.

After a coffee to finish off we asked for the bill. When it arrived it had 4 Bloody Mary’s on it at the cost of £11.50 each! An extra £46.

I queried the bill and the waitress took them off but honestly – £11.50 for the worst Bloody Mary I have ever had. I don’t think so!!!

The correct bill came to £130 for 3 Brunches and a bottle of wine.

Bloody Mary’s aside, the food was excellent and it was a fabulous way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Thanks Mum.

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