Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The Adamson (St Andrews)

Remember Scott Davies?  For those that didn't glue their eyes to the television the whole of last winter watching BBC2 in the evening, he was a finalist on Masterchef Professionals, and he's the head chef at The Adamson in St. Andrews. 

As if that alone wasn't exciting enough, amongst the smart and contemporary decor, the restaurant has an open kitchen where you can see the man himself carefully preparing your food, and yes, I sat as close to him as possible. 

"Classic brassiere cooking with a contemporary twist" the menu has a strong Scottish influence with an abundance of beef, seafood and an exciting vegetarian selection, which is always nice to see.  With the daily set menu priced at £14.95 for three courses and £11.95 for two, it is definitely one of the best places for lunch in town. 

With the a-la-carte menu you're looking at about  £25-30 for a three course meal, which is still excellent for the quality of food you're getting

From the starters I chose pea mousse with crab, pea shoots and caper dressing.
A fresh crab salad speckled with bright green peas and peashoots and a lovely little ball of pea mousse nestled in the middle under the hot crisp potato croquette.  Pretty as a picture, a great balance of textures and colors, just a shame it was over-salted, especially as when you reached the mousse, you were reaching for water at the same time.

My friend ordered the serrano ham with montbelliard sausage and spring vegetables.  Tucked underneath the blankets of serrano ham were hamhock croquettes which were truly the stars of the dish.  Soft, slow-cooked pork coated with crunchy deep-fried goodness is just delightful, especially when eaten together with the vegetables and bits of the ham.
Now, the mains were exciting.  Oven-baked salmon with pea and mint puree, potato hula-hoop and horseradish.   The salmon comes with perfectly crisp skin, shame that it was ever so slightly overcooked, but it was quickly compensated for by its accompaniments.  The potato ring and the foam were all good and fun, but those peas and potatoes were nothing short of brilliant.  My god, the purée was sweet and smooth; the peas, vibrant and fresh, which still had a bite to them; the darker shades of crunchy capers and gherkins provided that salty kick and contrast.  Then those potatoes with the perfect texture.  There was already the smooth pea purée, so a soft potato mash would have been too much, but these rustic crushed potatoes, with an uncommon depth of flavor coming from being perfectly spiced and seasoned with specks of capers, were simply the best potatoes I've ever had.  Altogether it was just a dish that sang spring with it's shades of green and yellow sunshine.
My friend had the confit lamb shoulder with cauliflower cheese purée and lemon thyme nage.  The lamb was slow-cooked to tender soft and was paired with with a strong cheesy cauliflower purée.  Pork and apple, duck and orange, lamb and mint, I like it when a chef is brave enough to divorce these age-old couples and introduce them to new exciting affairs with other ingredients.  The dish was freshened up with an abundance of pretty vegetables and a deep flavorsome broth that was however hampered by a tad too much salt yet again. 
We needed a good 15 minutes to digest before moving on to the dessert.  Amongst all the tantalizing choices we settled on the following two.

Bitter dark chocolate with salted caramel and banana.  I mean, look at this. This is taking your childhood snacks and giving it a makeover on Kensington high street.  The chocolate was intense and rich, and it came in the forms of dark truffles, dense mousse and bits of crunchy and salty crumbs here and there.  The bananas were there to tame and calm the chocolate, with fresh chunks caramelized, a surprisingly fresh and light banana ice cream, and the best part of it all - banana crisps (which I think should just be the new hipster snack).  Everything rested happily on a smooth caramel that's not overpowering in terms of sweetness or richness.  It was delicious, especially later on when the banana ice cream melts and it blends and mingles with the caramel and the remaining chocolate mousse and it's all just worthy of being licked straight off the plate.

The other dessert was the almond cream with salt baked pineapples and thyme biscuit.  The almond cream was an ethereal light and smooth crème brûlée with the perfect crunchy caramel that breaks and cracks with the slightest touch against your spoon.  Around it was sweet lemon curd, sponge cakes soaked in lemon syrup and soft pineapples.  All this sweetness was cleverly balanced out by the dollop of sharp lemon sorbet and the thyme biscuits.  The thyme biscuits added an exciting crunch, however, just one tiny thing - it could have been saltier and thymier for they were a bit on the bland side.  But that's just being picky.
The dinner ended with top-notch cocktails that are definitely the best in town.  Not cheap though, averaging £9 a glass.

The place was just buzzing on a Tuesday night.  We got there at 18:00 and it remained full as we left at 21:00, and it's not just because it's still a relatively new restaurant.  There are plenty of restaurants in St Andrews but I can name few that are actually good and this place at the end of the day, along with the friendly staff (and I'm a sucker for good service) and the elegant decor, the food is pretty damn exceptional.  The chef's really clever about contrasts - sweet and savory, mellow and sharp, soft and crunchy and just the array of colors that really do showcase the local and seasonal produce like the menu advertises.  

The Adamson
127 South Street, St Andrews, KY16 9UH
01334 479191
Mon-Thu: 12:00-15:00 & 17:00-21:00
Fri-Sat: 12:00-22:00
Sun: 12:00-21:00
Good for: dates, drinks and casual lunches. 

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