Craig Millar @ 16 West End, St Monans, Fife
With so many beautiful spots along the Fife coast; the whole of the East Neuk is worth taking some time to explore. The food and drink offerings really are second to none; from harbourside lobster shacks to Michelin starred fine dining. Craig Millar’s eponymous restaurant in St Monans has long been on our list to try if only to finally sample his much-acclaimed twice-baked Isle of Mull Cheese Soufflé.
The dining room has the most glorious views across the harbour and beyond, and manages to be bright and fresh whilst at the same time exuding warmth with an air of relaxed sophistication. The menu on our visit is a five or six-course tasting menu with choices for the main and cheese courses. From the offset when we are presented with our first starter, a plump herb crumbed Scallop with squid ink and a silken cauliflower purée sprinkled with puffed rice, the confidence in the cooking is clear. No gimmicks, just excellent local ingredients treated with respect and presented elegantly on the plate.
The Pea Mousse tastes of summertime; bright pea flavour with zips of acidity from the pickled shallot and mushroom. I have chosen the Halibut main and the cooking of it is superb. Flaky, juicy fish is paired with morels, asparagus and wild garlic and brown butter sauce. Lisa’s choice of Duck looks as impressive as it tastes. Perfectly pink and full of flavour, with a celeriac fondant and the sweetest carrot, the mushroom ketchup that it sits on brings everything together harmoniously.
We both opt for the Cheese Soufflé next, and it certainly lives up to its reputation. The tangy, buttery Isle of Mull cheddar is perfect in this and it’s clear to see why it was a much sought-after takeaway offering during lockdowns last year. The salty, savoury dish is a real highlight for both of us. As we move onto the dessert courses, the sharp Apple Sorbet in the first of them acts as a zingy palate cleanser, along with the yoghurt, apple purée and oaty crumble. We really aren’t sure what to expect from the final course: Dark Chocolate Marquise, vanilla ice cream, sea salt, olive oil, and balsamic. It’s such an unusual combination that neither of us has tried before, but it is complex and interesting and incredibly delicious.
As excellent as the food has been all evening, it’s such a pleasure to witness front of house service that hits the same high standard. Every member of staff that we spoke to was warm, welcoming, knowledgeable and truly added to our whole experience. Rather than ticking this restaurant off of our list, it’s very much staying put for a return visit.
Craig Millar @ 16 West End - St Monans, Fife KY10 2BX 1333 730327