The town of St Andrews is world famous for many reasons – Scotland’s first university was founded here in 1413 and town is of course home to the game of golf. The oldest golf manufacturers, Forgan’s of St Andrews was established here.
The former factory site of the club manufacturer, in the heart of St Andrews has undergone a spectacular transformation, with the opening of the restaurant Forgan’s in 2013. This review of Forgans St Andrews was not requested or paid for by the restaurant.
A hidden gem, Forgan’s is located behind the popular Mitchell’s Deli on Market Street. The covered passageway is lined with pots of herbs, giving the visitor an scented hint of what awaits them behind the heavy wooden door. On entering the restaurant, we were greeted by friendly staff, and directed to the ‘Bothy’ that we had reserved.
The restaurant theme is traditional Scotland, but not in a twee shortbread box way. The décor is modern, with lots of sneaky wee references to Scottish history and style. They have valiantly resisted the clichéd of tartan, instead opting for lots of weathered wood, leather and grey metal shelving.
One side of the restaurant is dominated by the large bar, the other by the open kitchen. Between these two ‘work stations’ is a large table with bar stools, for more informal dining and quick snacks. Rather more comfortable is the area beyond this, and the ‘Bothies’.
There are four Bothies, which can be booked individually for up to 10 people, or opened to create a room for a function or meeting. The huge wooden doors on the Bothies can be closed for privacy – or in our case to prevent the lively toddler escaping.Being able to contain her in a small ‘room’ meant that we could chat and relax without worrying that she was bothering other diners, or getting in the way of the waiting staff.
The Bothies also boast their own sound system, which the older kids in our party found fascinating. On the walls were books and some games, which again helped keep the kids amused while we waited on our lunch.
Our American guests were charmed by the restaurant, and delighted to find that the menu contained Scottish specialities such as haggis, fish and chips, and smoked salmon. For those who prefer international cuisine, there were dishes such as Boef Bourguignon, Club Sandwich or Tomato Risotto Cake.
Prices range from around £9 for sandwich/salad type meals, to around £13ish for more elaborate main courses, up to £32 T-bone steak. The kids menu is priced at £4.95 for main course and a drink, with an extra £1 for a starter or dessert.
None of the cheap and nasty chicken nuggets and chips kids meals though – their menu is a scaled down adult menu, including starters such as melon or haggis balls, and main courses of gourmet sausages, steak frites, or homemade mac cheese.
Our friends ordered the chicken, and the battered cod, both of which were pronounced ‘delicious’ and their daughter polished off her haggis, neeps and tatties.
My kids were less adventurous but described the macaroni cheese as ‘even better than yours, Mum’. [hmpf]. I had steak sandwich, which was tasty and well-seasoned.
Forgan’s uses local ingredients, which means they are slightly more expensive than a boil-in-the-bag pub restaurant, but the quality of the food and the preparation was excellent,so well worth the money. The waiting staff was unobtrusive but helpful and very friendly.
The restaurant is unlike any other establishment that I have seen, in that ‘child friendly’ isn’t limited to offering a children’s menu and some colouring pens. They have daily activities on offer, in one of the bothies, from craft sessions, cartoon time,board games, face painting and even a weekly Kids’ Ceilidh on Saturday mornings.
Adults will find plenty to interest them in Forgan’s, either in their daytime Gatherings of knitting, ‘make do and mend’ or a book club. The evenings are given over to music, dance, wine tasting and more.
The popularity of the restaurant was obvious when looking at the huge map, with tags pinned by visitors from around the world. It is not a huge restaurant, so worth booking a table to avoid disappointment.