Craig Millar @ 16 West End, St Monans
It has been an interesting journey to the tables of Craig Millar @ 16 West End – a small restaurant tucked away in St Monans, overlooking the harbour.
At one time the fare was crisps and beer nuts when it was The Cabin, a village pub where latterly your pint was poured by Councillor Jimmy Braid.
Then came The Seafood Restaurant with Craig Millar building an impressive menu and a growing reputation in partnership with Tim Butler at the St Andrews restaurant.
In 2011 Craig branched out on his own and the food has continued to impress ... and far beyond the East Neuk.
This is fine dining in a grand location and while the lunch menus are reasonable, dinner, wallet-wise, needs to be viewed as a treat, and the five-course taster at £60 (£85 with the wine option) is pushing the boat out a bit.
But is it worth it? In a word, yes.
We got lucky through an online winter discount offer so we couldn’t lose but there was a challenge for the kitchen from our foursome.
One of our party, let’s call him Steve (because that’s his name) avoids two things if he can – the fragrance of patchouli, which apparently offends his punk roots, and fish, a speciality at Craig Millar @ 16 West End.
However, there were clean plates all round with the sea trout opener... but then came the hake with the saffron and mussel broth.
The hake was cooked to perfection but the broth stole the show. The Fife trait of dunking may not be elegant but it is more refined than licking the plate, and dunk we duly did.
Craig has made the ox cheek one of his specialities; it gave Steve a break from the maritime menu and added another delicious dimension to what was turning into a memorable meal. A selection of lovely cheeses rounded off the savoury section before the warm chocolate mousse, pistachio cake and mint ice provided a final taste bomb.
The dining room has spectacular views, the fire in the cosy bar provides a warm welcome as do the attentive but unobtrusive staff – there’s not really anything to complain about.
And Craig also removed Steve’s fear of fish, the patchouli will need more work.
Five course tasting menu
44⁰C Sea Reared Trout, oyster soup, miso caramel
saffron, mussel broth
Slow Cooked Ox Cheek,
pancetta, mushroom, root vegetables
Selection of Cheese
Warm Chocolate Mousse,
pistachio cake, mint ice cream
£60 per person
£85 per person with wine