My mission to St Andrews was subverted.
We’d only been planning to go for a walk, look at a bookshop or two, and get a Fisher & Donaldson fudge doughnut.
I’ve never tried this Fife delicacy, and for some reason, the internet’s algorithms have decided that I’m the Scottish version of Homer Simpson.
If it shows me another photograph of one, I’ll eat my phone. I have already nibbled a corner.
Anyway, the mizzle and haar changed our plans, along with the fact that there was a lengthy queue outside their Church Street bakery.
Still, I could see, from the window, that there were hundreds in stock - a mosaic’s worth along the shelves, with their matt and buff icing lids.
There was enough to chance coming back later.
For shelter, we tracked down a new venue, HATCH, which isn’t named after the food service vents that we’ve become used to during lockdown.
Instead owner Julie Dalton has created a portmanteau of her two children’s names, Harrison and Charlie, with the T doubling as an + in the logo.
We took a high stool by the door, and wondered how many of their small plates we could fit on the titchy table, along with the lantern and the water bottle and the glasses, before banishing those thoughts. It's not the diners’ job to worry about ergonomics.
They recommended two or three dishes each, plus any additional carb or pud. Some are smaller than others, which is reflected in the price.
First out was the miso cured salmon (£5.95) - a dreamy and delicately flavoured creation, with a cross section of fish, as well as balmy magnolia-coloured buttermilk that was marbled with herb oil and topped by sprigs of dill, frosted sea purslane, thin wedges of apple and cucumber.
It worked well with their summer-y bellini basil smash (£7.50) – my fantasy cocktail, thanks to a sour tang from lemon juice, along with Bombay Sapphire, creme de peche, Champagne Syrup, basil and a single pink amaranth flower floating on the top, like Esther Williams’ discarded swimming cap after a shark attack.
The roasted heritage beetroots (£5.50) were a pretty thing, served on a plate that was the colour of a blood moon. There were nuggets of the vegetable, as well as tiny blobs of an ultra cheesy gouda custard, more slivers of apple, basil and thin shards of sourdough toast.
Another bigger dish - their heavenly piece of Atlantic sole (£12.95) - was so downy and light, I felt a bit sorry for it, having to carry a backpack of samphire, brown shrimp, spinach, capers and a slosh of brown butter and lemon.
If these options crept along in ballet slippers, the rich and deep ox cheek (£12.95) steamed up in steel-capped bovver boots, then kicked the door down. The meat had gummy and melted connective tissue and was clarted in a tarry sauce of soy and honey. In case that wasn’t enough umami for you, there was a dusting of feathery katsuobushi on the top, and mushrooms, seaweed and wild rice in the mix.
The sides were punchy too. Chunks of breadcrumbed polenta (£5.95) were topped by a thatch of grated Cuddy’s Cave, and a chevron of jalapeno injected mayo, while fortune-cookie-shaped and deep-fried dauphine potatoes (£6.25) had gummily soft centres, and were served with a scattering of smoked almonds and Romesco sauce.
I wondered if we should have pudding, or save ourselves for our trip to the donutterie.
In the end the chocolate and brown butter ganache (£5.25) inveigled itself into our order. It was an interesting combination - an ultra sweet chocolate brick, topped by tiny and transparent melting beads of yuzu and ginger granita, micro coriander, praline sails and crushed macadamia nuts.
We also tried the rhubarb and custard (£8.25), which featured a solid cylinder of wobbly cold custard, like the innards of a baker’s slice, plus pieces of meringue, pistachio crumbs and other nibbly bits.
I suppose it’s just as well that they were completely sold out by the time we left this place and got along to the baker.
As granny said, what’s meant for you won’t pass you by. In this case, it was the marvellous HATCH that was meant for us, not fudge-covered doughnuts.
I can always eat my phone instead.
129 South Street
01334 475557, www.hatchstandrews.com
How much? Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £63.05
Places to try Nearby
The Adamson, 127 South Street, St Andrews (01334 479 191, www.theadamson.com)
The dishes at this place, which includes a bookable outdoor terrace, might include a steak that’s been cooked on their Josper grill, or corn fed chicken Kiev with bbq baby gem, bacon and parmesan. They also do afternoon tea and offer a kids’ menu.
Balgove Larder, Strathtyrum Farm, St Andrews (01334 898145, www.balgove.com)
On the way to St Andrews, head to this farm shop for one of their excellent steak pies, or check out their Steak Barn or the new Pizza Box, which features sourdough pizzas topped by locally sourced goodies, including cheese from St Andrews Cheese Company.
Tom Morris Bar & Grill, West Sands Road, St Andrews (01334 466 642, www.standrews.com)
This restaurant was opened in time to celebrate golfing icon Old Tom Morris’ 200th birthday on June 16, though you don't have to be a golfer to visit. Expect a menu of 80 whiskies and lots of local produce, including Balgove burgers, Jannettas Gelateria ice-cream and East Neuk shellfish.