My friends from home had agreed on an impromptu trip and alerted me of their intention to visit St Andrews for the weekend. As the entertainer of the friend group, I formulated a delightful itinerary to keep them busy. After my fairly ghastly experience at a certain chicken establishment new to the town, I felt the need for some culinary uplifting. I thought of no other place more popular at the moment than Forgan’s.
I briefed my friends that we would be dining at St Andrews’ newest eating establishment on our journey back from the train station. Little did I know that I’d forgotten to do the most important thing when one wishes to eat out on a Friday night: make a reservation. I naively pranced in the soaking rain towards Market Street, stupidly not knowing what embarrassing position I was just about to put myself into.
Approaching the gentlemen at the door, I asked if he had a table for five. To say the look on his face was of sheer dumbfounded surprise, that I had the audacity not to book a table, would be an understatement. He broke the news to me quickly that they were fully booked and mentioned that I was more than welcome to come back for their Friday night ceilidh. As utterly delightful and exciting (note my sarcasm) as ceilidhs are, I graciously refused and headed off.
What was I meant to do now? I had a group of hungry students, soaked by the rain, expecting me to come up with a master plan as to how to feed them. There was no chance that my favourite restaurant in town, Little Italy, would have a table this late in the evening.
It was at that moment that a brilliant idea hit me, like a coconut hits an unassuming beach walker on the head. Flashbacks appeared in my head at the wonderful time I had had in The Doll’s House last year. I ushered the pack of famished teenagers towards Church Square as quickly as humanly possible.
Expecting a brilliant service, my expectations were instantly met when the staff went to the trouble of arranging a table for us, even although they were close to full. Not a moment passed before we were asked if we wanted any beverages and the specials were dictated to us. A particular double-roasted chicken dish caught my eye. Its description was exquisite so I was expecting something quite special.
With everybody having ordered and settled down, the staff presented to us some bread and oils – free of charge. This was the first of several small touches that made that evening’s overall dining experience one to recommend. The second was the speed at which the food arrived in front of our hungry little faces. Efficiently and elegantly presented, was a leg of chicken, sitting on creamed, mashed potato with an unusual lentil garnish.
Other dishes included a Scottish venison casserole and red pepper risotto. The third and final touch of service was the cooked vegetables placed on the table as yet another added extra to our experience. Brilliantly prepared, the chef managed to make cooked cabbage and roasted carrots with potatoes taste like a meal in itself.
The entire experience of sitting down for a meal in a restaurant is very important. When you get past the ambience and décor, which most restaurants do to a sufficient level, you then reach aspects such as the service and, more importantly, the food.
The Doll’s House managed to offer me so much more value for money. The Doll’s House was able to offer me actual table service, a great eating environment and some complimentary extras, which made the overall culinary-journey worth every penny.
What I think we have lost touch with is our love for the entire eating experience. We seem to be more interested in the bright lights and gimmicks that big franchises throw in our faces.
We forget that eating out is so much more than just the name of the restaurant. The Doll’s House may not be the best restaurant in the world, but it certainly offers you the eating-out experience you deserve.
The change from my experience a few weeks ago at Nando’s was profound; I felt as if I was eating in an entirely different town. The sheer variety of choice, quality of the food and the service put the Doll’s House firmly into the top five restaurants in St Andrews.
The pricing is also eminently reasonable. The atmosphere made me want to linger there for the evening. The lunch and early evening menus offered two-course set meals of £7.95 and £11.95 respectively. For this relatively small amount of money, you get someone who will actually bring you a drink, a friendly smile and well-executed food.
In the culinary environment of St Andrews, this is more than can be said for many of the other eating establishments.