This past week I had the opportunity to taste a selection of dishes from The Räv’s dinner menu. Located in what used to be The Beer Kitchen, this new edition to St Andrews’ dining scene offers a variety of Scandinavian cuisine. Founded by two recently married former students, Alex Kirkbride and Gala Netylko, the restaurant caters to students as well as locals with a new design and delicious cuisine. The head chefs are a brother and sister duo, Elina and Kimmo Makkonen, both with experience working in Michelin starred restaurants. Kimmo’s background in French cooking led him to work at The Green House, a two Michelin starred restaurant in Mayfair London. In addition, Elina perfected her culinary craft while working in Hedone, a one Michelin starred restaurant in Chiswick London.
Alex and Gala’s attention to detail can be seen in the décor of the restaurant just as well as it can be in the carefully thought out menu. With an upbeat jazz influenced playlist and lighting installation inspired by the colours of the aurora borealis, the atmosphere of the restaurant instantly transports you to a chic cocktail bar near the arctic circle.
Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a good vegetable in my meals but based off of my borderline carnivorous diet, I never thought that I would be writing the words: ‘the vegan dish was my favourite.’ But alas, here we are. I think that my jaw almost hit the floor when I tasted my first bite of the cabbage roll, found on the small plates section of The Räv ’s dinner menu. For starters, one can not deny the detail that has gone in to the presentation of this dish. The deep green cabbage contrasts beautifully against the bright carrot and orange puree, all topped with sautéed wild mushrooms. But the centre of the cabbage roll is what surprised me the most. Encased in the savoy cabbage is a flavourful chickpea and pearl barley combination. The barley creates a hearty element to the dish, (almost similar to the texture of a risotto) while the wild mushrooms, chickpeas and spices work in harmony to give the starter a grounded, earthy flavour.
I even had to double check the menu because I was so surprised that a vegan dish was able to replicate a flavour so similar to something that you would expect from a hearty but well balanced stew.
Gala explained that she wanted to provide vegetarian and vegan options that meat eaters and vegans would equally enjoy. She laughed as she told us that it was rare for Alex to reorder a vegan dish, however just like myself, he seems to have been swayed. I challenge any regular meat eater to try this dish and not even briefly consider converting to veganism.
Now, enough about the cabbage roll, because the other dishes that we had the pleasure of tasting were undoubtedly delicious. we tried the steak tartar starter, flavoured slightly with tabasco, lemon, shallots and parsley. While a classic and simple dish, the flavours of the tartar blended perfectly.
The smoked venison was also just as impressive. It was incredibly tender for such a lean cut of meat, as venison can easily turn out dry. Paired with fresh blackberries, this would be the perfect choice for someone looking for a more filling option.
In addition to the food, the cocktails were a wonderful surprise, and paired well with the meal. Their cocktail list is long and rivals the other cocktail bars in St Andrews. The prices were also fair, ranging from 5 to 7.50 pounds per drink, and the selection offered a large assortment of alcohols and flavours. I tried one of their most popular, named the Revontulet, which was a light and refreshing drink, perfect for the start of our dinner. The vodka used in their cocktails is distilled in-house and many of their drinks reflect their Scandinavian roots with their use of dill and cloudberries.
Based off of their Michelin star background and on trend décor, The Räv might feel like an intimidating place to go for a casual lunch, however upon eating their myself, this idea could not be more wrong. The lunch menu is reasonably priced, with a wide variety of cold open-faced sandwiches in addition to smaller warm dishes. Their staff is incredibly friendly, making any diner feel welcome. In our meeting, Alex expressed his intention to soon offer takeout options as well as adding the Rav’s lunch menu on Deliveroo, joining a plethora of other restaurants in St Andrews that cater to busy students and professionals. However not all of their items will be available through the app, as Alex explained that they would not want to compromise the quality of dishes that would not fare well through the delivery process.