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The Cellar
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The Cellar ,

Tucked away on a quiet little street beside the harbour in Anstruther in the East Neuk of Fife, lunch at Michelin starred The Cellar was well worth the bus trip we took from Dunfermline.

Strolling through the stone courtyard garden, we entered the cosy bar area, decked in subtle tones of grey. We knew we were somewhere special on an otherwise dreich February afternoon. The menu can be read in advance or kept as a surprise at the table. We had a look while we relaxed by the fireplace with a drink, opting to have the paired wines along with the 6-course lunch tasting menu.

The stone dining room is snug and comfortable.  I was particularly taken with the beautiful landscape artwork on the walls by Ron Lawson, the colours and themes suited the feel of the restaurant and the food.

Our first course of a crisp potato tube filled with smoked mussel cream, dabberlock (a local seaweed) and lemon was a delicious amuse-bouche, small in size but mighty in flavour.  Follow Chef Billy Boyter on social media, and you will see the local seaweeds and herbs he forages. It's lovely to see these little known gems of Scotland’s stunning natural larder being used so respectfully.

Following some tasty warm sourdough with an incredibly moreish whipped onion butter - we managed to resist the offer of more bread and butter throughout lunch - the next dish ramped the flavours up again.  Crisp on the outside, meltingly tender inside, the cubes of ox tongue were topped with 36 month Parmesan cream. The mature sharp cheese was also sweet, and the dish was crowned with a decadent pile of grated truffle.

The fish dish of heritage potato, Arbroath Smokie, and parsley was another winner. There was a subtle smokiness to the cream, a delicate seaweed gel and again intriguing little leaves of herbs that added to the overall flavour.

To be honest, we really couldn’t fault any of the food or the service which was friendly and relaxed. Staff were knowledgeable and professional too, answering all our questions about the flavours we recognised but couldn’t quite place.   The venison dish impressed most,  if only for the amazing black pudding cream that I would happily have a jar of in my fridge to smother on toasted sourdough!

As we moved on to the two dessert dishes Tokji Late Harvest, MAD 2016 complemented both well. Apple marigold leaves on hay cream topped with rhubarb granita added herbiness. The final offering of sea buckthorn, spiced sponge, mandarin, and cheesecake mousse had us guessing over tiny little cubes of ‘something orange’ that offered another dimension. See if you can figure it out if you go!  

The 6 course lunch tasting menu is £40, with paired wines at £32. (Jill Blair) 

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