By Cameron Bray
The town of St Andrews boasts many obvious attractions to visitors, students, and locals alike. Some are beautiful — St Mary’s College Library, St Salvator’s Chapel, Edgecliffe. Some are not — the Library, the Arts Building, Gannochy. Some are sites of pilgrimage — St Andrews Cathedral, the Pier, Toastie Bar. Some are lonely places, forgotten altogether — Agnes Blackadder Hall, David Russell Apartments, Fife Park. In this blog post, I list the places that I consider underrated in St Andrews. Each unique location makes St Andrews a great place to live, work, and study.
Little Italy: Little Italy is, in my opinion, the finest restaurant in St Andrews, but it’s not widely regarded as such. Most students would choose Forgan’s or the Adamson if they were to pick an upscale restaurant to take their parents, a date, or a posh friend on a dinner reservation. But Little Italy provides better food, better value, and better atmosphere than both of them at once. The menu offers a fantastic array of pastas – all between £10 and £20! Because of its great food, value, and atmosphere, Little Italy has been the place for the past year and a half where I’ll take my first dates, all two or three of them. Ouch! Funny story — I took a girl with celiac disease to Little Italy on a dinner date last year. She didn’t she say she was gluten-free until AFTER we sat down. I was convinced the date was ruined, but the server saved us with a gluten-free pasta made specially by the chef. His wonderful service came to the rescue, and it gave me plenty of chances to ruin the relationship in my own good time through my own sheer stupidity. If you haven’t been to Little Italy yet and made a friend with celiac disease struggle against the menu, I urge you to do so before you leave St Andrews.
Aldi: As a grocery store in a university town, Aldi provides a tremendously better value to St Andrews students than Tesco does. Period. Full stop. Whatever you want to call it. But because it’s located on the outskirts of town, fewer students make the trek to Aldi than they do to Tesco. They’ve fallen into the Tesco trap, fooled by a prime location, a long drinks aisle, and a fast-moving self-checkout area. Smart, money-savvy students, on the other hand, make the trip to Aldi because they know it offers better groceries at a cheaper price. If you’re no longer a first-year and you’re still a Tesco disciple, you need to see the light already and start going to Aldi. You’ll be amazed by how money you’ll save at the end of the month. If you truly want to save money on groceries, the three best things you can do are: (1) Go to Aldi; (2) Bring a list; (3) Avoid going on an empty stomach. Aldi’s an amazing discount grocery store overall, but beware the temptations, fascinations, and attractions of the middle aisle! I went to Aldi to buy milk once last semester, and I almost came home with a £10 rotating spice rack from the middle aisle. Only the intervention of my flatmate Lincoln saved me from buying it.
Lade Braes: Almost every St Andrews student has walked the Fife Coastal Path for fun at some point in their four years of study. Most clubs I know will lead a coastal walk at least once a year. But fewer students have strolled through Lade Braes for fun. Most will only ever walk the path to get from Point A to Point B, never for fun. As someone who walks through Lade Braes often, whenever he feels it on a whim, I would encourage students to walk the path whenever they need need a quiet place to think. The path is never busy, and the natural beauty surrounding Lade Braes is stunning. The trees overshadowing Lade Braes offer a wonderful sense of serenity, embrace, and comfort, while the gentle rushing of the Kinness Burn relaxes the mind. You can feel the ancient beauty in the earth, in the air, and in the water as you walk along the path. The path itself is only about 1.5 miles long, so it can be walked in its entirety in less than an hour, unlike the Fife Coastal Path. Plus, it offers an easy route to Aldi for DRAFP residents if they cross the Kinness Burn and follow Maynard and Broomfaulds.
Northpoint Cafe: Northpoint offers one of the coziest settings in St Andrews for students to eat, talk, and hang out, with only Old Union as a close second. Billed as the place where Kate met Wills for coffee, Northpoint struck me as a cheesy tourist trap when I first saw it. But now I know that my initial impression does such a disservice to Northpoint’s goodness. The cafe offers a wonderful menu of coffee, tea, breakfast and lunch items. And the best part is, it’s affordable for the many St Andrews students who aren’t members of the British royal family! Hooray! If you’re feeling bold — which as a William & Mary student, I often am — the Mexican breakfast burrito contains a homemade hot sauce that is super spicy. It might be the spiciest thing in Scotland. It’s brought me to tears more than once — in front of dates, no less! But I’ve always finished it. Go to Northpoint if you haven’t already. Who knows, you may meet the prince or princess of your dreams there. It all begins with a little cup of coffee. I’ve included Northpoint as the fifth underrated place on my list not because it’s underrated per se — it does a good business among students — but because I underrated it when I first saw it. I spoke blasphemy against it, and now I’ve repented of my sinful ways.