Rocca February 16
Rocca is the Italian style restaurant within the Russacks hotel right on the edge of the golf links, in St Andrews, American visitors must love this place with views straight onto the old course not to mention golf paraphernalia everywhere, our view of the R and A golf club was about all you could see on a dreich February evening but as the days get longer we were in pole position for the 18th green. Rocca has been a separate entity within the hotel for a number of years and there is a distinct Tuscan/ Italian theme going on, they also have their outpost of a deli in Bell Street. My first impression was favourable with a warm welcome from the word go. They obviously look after their staff well as Liam (who welcomed us) the assistant Food and Beverage manager had been on a wine and food trip with the company and used his knowledge to perfection even though it was a Portuguese red he recommended to me, his skills and knowledge were stand out for me. He took a pride in what he did, his knowledge and how he communicated that to us. How lovely to be able to understand a description of a dish from someone whose first language is one’s own! I have often said that a meal can be made or broken by the service and Liam certainly made it.
At this time of year the menu is quite sensibly reduced in size, in busier times they offer a tasting menu with wines to compliment, However although choice is easier there was still enough variety, and you also know that the food is going to be fresh. Never trust a large menu! And in spite of the Italian connection it was still very locally and seasonally grounded with Scottish produce really to the fore, beetroot and kale are always good to see for those of you who know my books! But smoked salmon, game terrine, Orkney beef and Scrabster turbot all appeared on the short set price menu.
Little “snacks” of parmesan puffs and haggis balls reflected the Italo/Scottish marriage and very good they were too, and these are just while you look at the menu.
And the amuse bouche (the French do get everywhere) of a mushroom veloute with a “spumante” topping brought us an earthy mushroom soup with a delicate creamy topping. Liam was the consummate host helping with both food and wine choices answering questions and generally making you feel comfortable and looked after.
Quibbles? Well you know me, Liam was perfect in every way except when describing the herb on top of our little soup, he stated it was tarragon when it was actually thyme, pernickety? Me? Oh and one other thing, the duo of salmon pretty as a picture on the plate, even if the salmon wasn’t raw (it was smoked) it still should be spelt tartare not tatare. Otherwise Liam will wow the Americans. Petit Chablis “a hint of hazelnuts on the finish”? This description did make me raise my eyebrows. But he was absolutely right. Thank you Liam you made our evening.
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