Fife is a foodie’s fantasy. With its long history as a fishing community, this region has always had a strong connection to the sea. And though, sadly, many of the villages’ fleets have been laid up, the local port at Pittenweem still lands a healthy catch every day.
Away from the sea, the land rises gently across rich loam and rolling hills; an area known as the Howe of Fife. This fertile land is home to berry and root crops, brassicas, salads, wheat and maize as well as beef cattle and venison. If you love to cook, then the fields around Treescape can supply all you need to create something special in our brilliantly equipped kitchen.
If, on the other hand, your idea of a holiday is eating out as much as possible, you’ll also find plenty of cafes, restaurants and pubs to sate your palate and quench your thirst.
Here too are a few of the places we personally recommend you visit while you’re at Treescape:
Ardross Farm Shop
Just a few minutes drive from Treescape, it’s been voted one of the best independent food stores in the UK. Focusing on local, sustainable ingredients, including the farm’s own beef, it’s perfect for stocking up the fridge with delicious meats, vegetables and gourmet frozen meals. There’s also a small, but perfectly formed wine selection and local craft beers.
A village institution, run by the genial David McCulloch and his wife Kay, Elie Deli stocks a great range of hams, cheeses and upmarket snacks; perfect for a picnic on the beach. Good artisan coffee beans too – just the job for the burr coffee grinder in the Treescape kitchen. Currently operating from temporary premises in the old Sangster’s restaurant, while work goes on to repair the original shop after its huge fire in 2016.
Elie Beach Cafe
The newest addition to the dining scene in Elie, is this vintage Citroen van parked on the breakwater right there on the beach. Run by the family that owns the house behind it, the cafe serves great coffee (double macchiato is my personal fave), savoury and sweet crepes and ice cream. They offer wood-fired pizzas in the evenings too. When the sun’s shining, pull up a chair, let the kids go mad on the beach and drink-in the view from your table on the sand.
The Ship Inn
This beautifully refurbished Elie favourite crops up throughout our website and it’s not difficult to see why. Great pub grub, a fine pint of ale and its famed terrace overlooking the beach make it a must-visit during your stay. And why not try its sister pub, The 19th Hole, at the other end of the beach in Earlsferry.
One of Scotland’s most venerable restaurants, the Peat Inn (in the village of Peat Inn) boasts a chef who formerly headed up Sir Terrence Conran’s kitchen in Etain in Glasgow. In a rustic setting, Geoffrey Smeddle serves up modern cooking with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients.
East Pier Smokehouse
Any closer to the sea and you’d be in it. This wonderfully unpretentious St Monan’s cafe/restaurant received a rave review from The Observer’s food critic Jay Rayner and is only open daily (11 – 5) during the summer; off-season it’s Saturdays and Sundays only I’m afraid. But if you’re here when it’s open you’re in for a treat. Fresh, locally-caught shellfish served in cardboard boxes, along with chips and salad, are the order of the day, washed down with decent bottled lager or New Zealand Sauvignon. If the cafe’s closed, the smokery will sell you shellfish (and more) to take away. Why not walk the Fife Coastal Path to get there?
This beautiful restaurant, housed in an atmospheric 17th century stone building close to the harbour, won chef Billy Boyter his first Michelin star in 2016 (retaining it in 2017). The eponymous guide says: ‘Delicious, deftly prepared dishes are light, well-balanced and have subtle modern influences. Service is friendly and the atmosphere is relaxed.’ And we can vouch for that.
The Seafood Ristorante, St Andrews
The striking glass box, perched over the beach beside the R&A, is home to one of Scotland’s best seafood restaurants; a recent change of ownership has added an Italian twist to the predominantly seafood menu. And if you don’t have a table right beside the full-length glass, then you’re likely to have a great view of the open kitchen. Here, you’ll find mussels, oysters, scallops and oysters from the west coast as well as lobster from the seas around your restaurant. Booking in peak season is pretty much essential.
The Vic, St Andrews
Buzzing with students and the cooler element of the town (but don’t let that put you off) The Vic is a stylish bar and kitchen, with a no-nonsense approach to pub food. Great craft beers too. And if you fancy making a night of it, a club that’s open til 2.00am.
Mitchell’s, St Andrews
Situated in an old butcher’s shop, this thoroughly modern cafe and deli is one of the busiest spots in town. Varied menu, with a few adventurous offerings, it also has a decent wine list and the ever-wonderful St Andrews Ales in bottle.
Forgan’s, St Andrews
From the team behind Mitchell’s next door, Forgan’s is an old warehouse converted into a series of stylish dining spaces, including a number of rather natty ‘bothies’; private rooms that seat up to a dozen or so. It’s great for kids too, with activities like face painting most weekends. We went there for our daughter’s birthday and the staff couldn’t have been nicer.
Taste, St Andrews
If, like me, you’re serious about your coffee (we provide fresh beans, a grinder and two cafetieres in Treescape) then you might be a little disappointed by the quality of the brews on offer in much of the East Neuk. One place that does get the thumbs-up, however, is this tiny little cafe on North Street. Crammed with students and regulars getting their fix, Taste offers different roasts, teas, home baking and simple lunches and is an essential pit stop for me every time I’m in town.
A couple of great ale pubs
There are no shortage of watering holes in St Andrews. But here are two of our favourites. The St Andrews Brewing Company Tap House is a new craft beer pub in South Street and is brought to you by the guys behind the wonderful bottled beers of the same name. Their own beer is always in great condition of course and there is a rotating selection of cask and keg guests. Oh and the tapas is fab too. At the other end of South Street is The Criterion, a great old fashioned boozer with Deuchars and others on tap. Lots of TVs for the rugby and football too.
Crail Harbour Gallery
We reckon this is just about the prettiest little cafe in the East Neuk. Set in a 17th century fisherman’s cottage on the steep road down to the harbour, this is both a gallery (featuring local art and crafts) and a tea/coffee shop, with some fine home-made cakes. Mind your head on those beams though.
Pittenweem Chip Shop
The Anstruther Fish Bar, just along the road, may take all the plaudits (and it is good), but this is our favourite local chippie. Queues can be expected at peak times but you can pick up your fish supper, drive back to Treescape and still sit down to a piping hot meal.
The Cocoa Tree
This atmospheric little place is run by The Pittenweem Chocolate Company and makes its own fantastic chocolate, with exotic flavours such as pink salt & caramel and violet petals nestling alongside the more traditional. The cafe in the back has a small menu featuring grilled sandwiches, soups, cakes and a wicked chilli hot chocolate.