In 2006 Geoffrey Smeddle and his wife, Katherine, bought The Peat Inn in Fife from its legendary owner David Wilson. Built in the mid-18th Century, The Peat Inn gave its name to the village that sprung up around it – Peat Inn – and has provided hospitality for weary travellers for over 200 years. Now a luxury restaurant with rooms, the weary travellers of old have been replaced by discerning local regulars and foodie tourists from all corners of the globe.
Menus change with the seasons, making full use of the wonderful produce available in the surrounding area – seafood from Anstruther, local game, Scotch beef and even vegetables grown in their own garden. He cites his network of trusted suppliers, many of whom date back to his Etain days, as a hugely valuable resource, relying on their advice and expertise to help influence the changes in his menus. Nature, too, plays a part in the creation of dishes, with ingredients paired according to seasonal flavour – think Summer berries with elderflower jelly in early summer, or Partridge with Swiss chard and chestnuts come autumn. Dishes such as Autumn Eton mess – made with blackberries, figs and poached pears – exemplify Geoffrey Smeddle’s deft, playful navigation through the seasons.
The chef is often praised for his unpretentious approach to cooking, and his food marries classical techniques with modern cuisine. Scallops with warm cucumber and caviar or the much loved Blood orange soufflé, served with chocolate and Grand Marnier sauce, receive much praise from critics for their unfussy perfection – here quality ingredients and careful technique take precedence over superficial over-embellishment. While locality is important, Geoffrey Smeddle is not opposed to incorporating further flung ingredients into his dishes either, such as Roast hake with chickpeas, chorizo and coriander or a punchy Lychee and ginger parfait.
Geoffrey Smeddle is supported by a superb management team, including Katherine and restaurant manager Ian Macrae. The Peat Inn is often commended for its atmosphere – elegant, but unpretentious – where regulars and tourists can expect an equally warm welcome. Richard Bath of The Standard once recounted visiting the restaurant again five years after his first dining experience and being asked by Macrae if he wanted to order ‘the same wine as last time’. This is no isolated incident; at The Peat Inn Geoffrey Smeddle and his team more than do justice to the venue’s long, long history of Scottish hospitality.