Craigtoun Country Park and Balgove Steak Barn
The term “foodie” is something that really annoys me. It sounds really pretentious like “oh well I’m a foodie, I’m an expert, blah blah blah” but my wife and I really must be classified as foodies. Liv, my wife, was a chef for many years and when we go travelling we’re both the kind of people who will go for the most authentic local food possible, almost no matter what it is. We’re both also always on the lookout for new places to take our daughter. We jokingly use the term “break her” when we think about where we want to go because she’s nearly 3.5 years old now and if we don’t take her out on her days off from nursery and give her a really good runaround then there’s no chance of her sleeping at night. She’ll just charge and charge and charge until we almost have to shout her into bed. So last week I had to do some work in St Andrews (yes, that place where William and Kate met) and I had to go there via the Fife Coastal route as I also had to do some work on the way in Glenrothes and Kirkcaldy. As a note if you’re travelling to St Andrews, the coastal route is in places really pretty but it’s also really slow. If travelling from Edinburgh you’re best going up the M90 then turning onto the A91 and going through Cupar. Back to the story, I finished my work in St Andrews and had to do some work in Edinburgh afterwards so I came back the A91 route past the golf course and on the way I was slowed down by several cars pulling into this farm looking place called Balgove. If not for the cars slowing down I doubt I would have taken any notice of the place but I thought “ooh what’s that place” based on the number of cars parked, made a note of the name and when I got home I discovered it’s actually called Balgove Larder (think deli/cafe shop) with a really awesome looking steak barn called the Balgove Steak Barn just to the side of the larder. So Friday night I was thinking “what can we do to break Amelia on Saturday” and I remembered finding something called Craigtoun Country Park which is just a few minutes outside of St Andrews and has all kinds of things inside.
Craigtoun Country Park is a park that anyone can walk around but it also has a miniature train that people can do laps of the park on. There’s also a tractor ride called the Puffin Billy which is shown in the picture above. There’s also a playground, miniature golf, a putting green, a dutch village (which sadly looked really run down) and a boating lake where you can go out on pedalos and the like. There are also really nice gardens and a cafe that sells expensive but really yummy ice cream. Price wise if you want to go on the rides and play with the attractions you have to pay variable amounts. Each ride/game uses one ticket and 10 tickets are £13. You can however buy a day ticket that allows you to use everything as much as you want and this is £7.50. There were three of us and a family of 3 ticket is £20. Bargain!
The steak barn looks absolutely awesome inside and I loved everything about the way it looked from the long tables and benches to the wood panels to everything. I really can’t fault the interior. Course wise we started off with a sharing platter which was simply amazing. Whenever we go to restaurants if they sell a sharing platter then 9 times out of 10 we’ll order it. This was made up of a scotch egg, some pork belly, sausages, a salad, some salami, some cold beef, a horseradish dip and a salad with mayonnaise. Wow, the whole thing was absolutely delicious and the scotch egg was the best scotch egg I have ever eaten in my life. Main course we ordered a rib eye steak cooked medium rare (in hindsight wish I had gone for rare) which was cooked perfectly medium-rare and a sausage dish. Liv didn’t like the sausage at all and it did have a very strong taste which took a couple bites to get used to but I just covered it in mayonnaise and gave Liv the steak. Chips were really yummy, crispy and covered in steak juice.
Before and after. Complete annihilation of both dishes.
Our final course was a sharing platter for two (well three but Amelia only counts as half) which was awesome! This had a bread and butter pudding, some kind of lemon dish, chocolate banana spring roll, some ice cream, irn bru squares, chocolate ganache, a marshall covered in white chocolate with chilli flakes, an unburnt creme brûlée, strawberries and finally a couple biscuits. Irn bru is still really popular in Scotland and it’s been some 20 years or so since I last tried and after trying it here I’m reminded why it has been 20 years but apart from that the whole sharing platter was absolutely delicious. Service at the Steak Barn was absolutely great, the staff were friendly, chatty and had a laugh with us. In total we had a sharing platter starter for 2, a rib eye steak, a sausage dish, 1 beer, 2 cokes, 1 apple juice and a sharing dessert and the total bill came to £58 which I think is pretty damn good. Would I go back? Yes! But I’d eat differently. Next time I would probably go for 2 starter sharing platters, a couple side orders (the onion rings looked epic) and the dessert and I would like to have a drink next time maybe. Also apparently in the future they are extending their opening hours including having live bands on a Thursday and they will be open more of the year. We have to admit we were pretty cold during our meal but it was a fairly cool day anyway and we arrived while it was chucking down with rain.
We only really quickly walked through the Balgove Larder itself. By the time we arrived at the site we were really hungry and we knew if we went into the larder we’d end up spending a shed load of money then spend another shed load of money in the restaurant. As it was Amelia had a sleep on the way to the venue so by the time we had our food and she had a coke and her dessert she was practically bouncing off the walls so Liv and I did an individual lap around the larder and it looked good. I saw they had a cafe which I didn’t get a chance to check the menu for but the food smelled good.