Riding high in Cupar …
What’s an ostler? We don’t mind admitting we had to look it up. In days gone by, when arriving at an inn, the ostler would have been the person to take care of your horse or mule during your stay. We know Ostlers Close Restaurant in Cupar – just off Bonnygate – and have been lucky enough to dine there. In the sculleries of the old Temperance Hotel, it is Number 1 (out of 43) restaurants on TripAdvisor in Cupar. We took time out to catch up with the owners to discover more …
Ostlers is run by husband and wife team, Jimmy and Amanda Graham. They are both chefs but, come dinner service time, their roles split: during the day, Amanda works alongside Jimmy in the kitchen, making the desserts, special dietary and vegetarian dishes as well as preparing preserves from their garden produce. In the evening Amanda runs front of house and, with her small team of staff, they provide “an informed service whilst maintaining a friendly, welcoming and relaxed atmosphere in the restaurant“.
Launched in November 1981, the award-winning restaurant delivers a fantastic and memorable experience. They are very proud of their two AA rosettes and their hard-earned reputation. From the hand-written menus that are change frequently to their use of the most of fresh, local seasonal ingredients … the attention to detail is evident throughout your visit. ‘Dietary requirements’ is an often heard phrase, but at Ostlers, it is meant: each and every dish is prepared individually for each of their customers. They bake their own gluten-free bread for coeliacs and for those on a gluten-free diet. They also cater for lactose-free and vegetarian customers. All they ask is to be made aware when making your reservation.
Jimmy insists on the freshest of ingredients for his kitchen, so he grows some of his own produce, with the help of a poly-tunnel to extend the growing season for salad crops, herbs, courgettes, cavolo nero to name a few – as well as cultivating fruits-plums, damsons, rhubarb, apples, blackcurrants and blackberries. Where possible, fresh, organic ingredients are used – including locally foraged delicacies. Yes, a big passion of them both is wild mushroom picking (below). When in season, every spare moment is devoted to foraging, from St Georges mushrooms in late spring (the first ones have been spied this week!) all the way through until the frost arrives that ends the cep and chanterelle season.
A shared passion …
Jimmy always wanted to be a chef. He went into hospitality at the age of 15, before heading to college. He then worked in Switzerland for a year. He met Amanda in St Andrews when she had a summer job from University. Amanda had always loved to cook. The rest is history!
Both have a common passion for cooking inspired by excellent local seasonal produce as well as by their hobbies of gardening and foraging. But it is the shared passion to achieve the highest standards – to have the same level of commitment – coupled with “enthusiastic customers” that maintains the drive.
Asked what makes Ostlers unique, Amanda explains: “I think it’s the ethos of the restaurant, aiming at providing good food in a relaxed atmosphere. We make everything from scratch with seasonal produce sourced locally. We grow vegetables, herbs and fruit. We forage for wild mushrooms.” Amanda adds: “All these are very on trend, however it’s what we have always done. Our menu changes frequently depending on available produce and flowers from the garden decorate the dining room. All these give an individual, personal style to the restaurant.”
They normally employ four staff – though they’re in need of new recruits just now, so get in touch if you have the passion!
Over almost four decades, the couple has seen many changes – and they’ve had many headlines and highlights. What’s the greatest achievement? Amanda says: “On a personal level, being able to work together for 38 years, committing so much of our time and energy to the business while bringing up our daughters … and we still have a sense of humour. Perhaps that’s the reason why we’ve survived!“
On a business level? Amanda cites their maintaining and developing standards of cooking to keep pace with the changes in the catering industry: “We have featured in the Good Food Guide since 1982 and we’re now one of the longest featured establishments.” That’s a real testament to them – and to their customers over the years.
Ostlers is an institution in Cupar. Over close to 40 years it has won a reputation as an outstanding eatery and is still riding high. Naturally, Jimmy and Amanda would recommend you visit … though there’s no parking for horses or mules today! We asked what else they’d recommend to anyone visiting Cupar for the first time – or for the first time in a long time. Jimmy says: “Our favourite regular event is town is the Cupar Farmers’ Market, held on the third Saturday of every month.” He adds: “There’s a great selection of local artisan produce and it is very atmospheric with the smokies being prepared on site. It is a great opportunity to meet the producers and, if you’re lucky, to hear Cupar’s pipe band.“
Jimmy uses lamb from Dalachy Farm (Aberdour), certified Scotch Beef supplied by the Ceres Butcher, pork from Puddledub Pork and fish from suppliers G &J Wilson from St Monans. Lobster, crab and prawns come from the East Neuk – as well as Langoustine in a Box from Pittenweem. Hand-dived scallops are from the Isle of Mull. Asparagus from Glamis.
They buy in fresh produce from Meadow Sweet Organics (Falkland) and soft fruit used is sourced from the many superb fruit farms on their doorstep.
Ostlers Close Restaurant is proud to be recognised in Visit Scotland’s quality assurance scheme with a Taste Our Best Award. And we highlighted their ranking on TripAdvisor .. but have a read for yourself: just click on the image below to read their review …