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Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Peat Inn (Fife)

We've been more than a few times at the Peat Inn, first reviewed here.

To understand why this is one the most appealing restaurants we know, look, for example, from our last Summer visit, at the  neatness of presentation of this Lobster Thermidore (a starter): the plate is clean, the precious juices and moisture all contained within the shell. The cooking is the most precise we've encountered in our Thermidore eating career: the sauce not overpowering but merely supporting the soft, delicate, succulent meat. The dark chips layered on the right provide a touch of textural variety. This is what we would call restrained class (it isn't nice to make comparisons, but we have to say that this offering is on a different level of cuisine even compared to our very good recent Scottish experiences at Ondine and The Honours), which in the end defines this restaurant.

The other starter was a stunner, too, but very different, going for a wider palette of flavours and colours. Here we have a pea and ham pannacotta with a ham hock bon bon and a quail egg.

There are so many layers of flavour and textures and details and ingredients in this simple looking dish that it's hard to tell. So we won't tell but merely assure you the result is amazing - to save time just be amazed, enjoy the colours, and try to imagine!

We also had our first Grouse of the season, here in the rich and powerful sauce that this meat wants. On a 'gameiness scale' we would say this was in the middle, quite gentle and hence, we think, acceptable also to more delicate palates - it's a matter of personal preferences but we could cope with more extreme versions and uses of the innards...(so far in the season the gold medal belongs to this guy). In terms of cooking, look at the brown outside, memory of flavour-giving high heat, and at the pink inside, and you get an idea of the satisfaction for the game-lover.

A dish of veal cooked in two ways (roasted rump and braised shin) is not only very accomplished,


but it also hides a lovely, lovely tomato sauce in the middle, redolent of Italian flavours, that we of course very much appreciated...Look also at all the small details in the dish - as ever, the more you look the more you discover - rarely here a dish of X is a mere dish of X, it's more like a minute construction around a core.

We would have wanted to choose the entire dessert list, so enticing it read, but we limited ourselves to these two:

A beautiful Eton Mess, with its crunchy, bright white meringue in which once again neatness of presentation (Chef Smeddle, who definitely has a bent for neatness, clearly cannot tolerate a mess even in an Eaton Mess...) and balance reigned supreme,


and a creamed vanilla rice pudding with peach compote, frosted hazelnuts and a peach sorbet (which can be served either cold or warm - the rice pudding, that is :) ). Imagine comfort food at its most refined, richly velvety yet elegant and light; this is it!

While Scotland is graced with several truly excellent restaurants, where highly talented chefs ably handle the marvellous Scottish produce, for us none of them quite matches the unique combination of charm, comfort, great cuisine and class-without-stiffness in service that one can enjoy at the Peat Inn. It is just our kind of high-end restaurant with a human face, not to mention the best value for money (no doubt a base but not unimportant dimension...) all round. That's why we'll be back here again, and again, and again, and we hope that even higher recognitions will be added to an already impressive record.


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