The “Town and Gown” of St Andrews excitedly awaited the arrival of Forgan’s last semester, when the fairy-lit seating area next to Mitchell’s transformed into a rustic entrance to a whole new restaurant. Expectations were high for the opening weekend as students feverishly snapped up delicious bite-sized haggis balls en route to the library, promising more culinary delights to come. Their menu offers local meats and produce, and features twists on classics such as duck sheperd's pie. But it is the drinks menu that is dressed to impress: A beautiful booklet of Scottish gins, whiskeys, locally brewed beers and novel ‘Sipping selections’ and ‘Flights’ to tantalise you after a hard day battling gale-force winds on the golf course.
On my visit, I tried a humble Crabbies non-alcoholic beer which quenched my thirst as I absorbed the restaurant's frenetic, yet homely interior. Fishing nets hang over the light fittings and vibrant green velvet cushions stand out against the stripped wood interior.
Our party was seated in ‘The Pantry’, one of the four individually designed rooms next to the open kitchen. Large, indulgent leather chairs surround a long table making it a smart, intimate setting. I had to restrain myself from grabbing a cookery book from the neighbouring ‘Reading Room’ bookshelves and curling up for a quiet read.
Despite the nerves of the newly recruited waiters, they served with charm, dilegence, and excellent customer care. Although the medium-well steak I ordered came out medium-rare, it was tender, flavourful and beautifully marbled. The chips were a little on the soft side, but the freshly prepared béarnaise sauce completed the dish nicely. Taking the waitress’s advice I chose the Macaroon cheesecake for dessert. I am glad to say that I was not the only person who had expected macarons of the French kind, forgetting that the Scots have their own coconut-based variation. However, the cheesecake was a welcome light option after a heavy main, counter-balanced by the slight acidity of a delicate raspberry puree.
Mid-meal we had a singer beautifully perform a set of popular cover tunes before the weekly ceilidh began. Late-evening customers shuffled in for a drink at the bar as a few of us leapt up from our seats for a quick dance of the Dashing White Sergeant between courses. Being a keen reeler, I embraced the Scottish fiddlers’ music, although its volume made talking back at the dinner table a significant challenge.
Dining at Forgan’s is about more than just food. The whole atmosphere is communal, taking you away from the crowds on Market Street into a unique and firmly Scottish experience. The staff welcome you as though you’re a regular, not just another customer. There is a tangible bustle, but not noise. And you leave feeling like you have had a warm and familial experience. My advice to everyone is to give Forgan’s a try when you want to take a few hours to relax. Take your friends there for a drink, your children along for face-painting, or your grandparents for a little shoogle? Forgan’s has a little bit of something for everyone.
By Victoria Bushnell