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Macdonald Rusacks Hotel, The Links, ST ANDREWS, KY16 9JQ
For many people, particularly the hordes of international pilgrims who jet in from the States and Asia, St Andrews is only about one thing, and that is golf. Sure, the town is, and always will be, the cradle of the game, and the Macdonald Rusacks Hotel sits within a short putt of the hallowed greensward of the 18th hole of the Old Course, but hard though it may be to ignore, golf isn't the only reason to come here: you could simply turn up for the contemporary Italian-accented cooking in the Rocca Grill. Naturally, huge windows offer ringside seats over the golfing action and West Sands beach (where some scenes of Chariots of Fire were shot). It's an expansive, well-lit space with high ceilings, big feature lights, drapes and a chic décor, but friendly and relaxed staff dispel any suspicion of stuffiness, and under the guidance of executive chef Davey Aspin, the kitchen is firing on all cylinders. 'Classical Scottish cooking with a creative Italian twist' is the restaurant's mantra, so things may well begin with local salmon and lobster packed into a single raviolo served with wilted spinach and a vibrant, intense and creamy bisque that would make a stand-out dish in its own right. Otherwise, you could start with saffron risotto served with braised veal and gremolata. The kitchen's technical skills don't miss a beat, as witnessed in the immaculate timing of a main course comprising venison served with a supporting cast of chicory, quince, beetroot, velvet-smooth potato purée, and red wine-poached pear. Fish is handled just as confidently - perhaps sea trout with cima di rape greens, Ayrshire potato and wild fennel. Rounding things off in style, rhubarb is served poached, dried and as a delicate yet intensely flavoured mousse matched with creamy vanilla custard, wafer-thin meringue and palate-refreshing blood orange sorbet.
Open all year.
Days closed for lunch: all week
Days closed for dinner: Sun (Oct-Mar)
Cooking type: Modern Italian, Scottish
Chef: Davey Aspin
Number of seats: 80
Accessible for wheelchairs.
Vegetarian meals available.
2 Course lunch from: £18.50
3 Course lunch from: £25.00
A La Carte Dinner Main Course from: £15.90
3 Course dinner from: £35.00
Prices are for guidance only. Please check when booking for current rates.