History of Playfair’s Restaurant and Steakhouse St Andrews
At Playfair’s, our team is committed to delivering amazing dishes with a Scottish emphasis and to creating a cosy, friendly environment for everyone who walks through our doors. Head Chef, Duncan McLachlan, christened the kitchen and front of house staff ‘Playfair’s Army’ as a reflection of the passion, commitment and camaraderie within the team. In the kitchen, Duncan works with Sous Chef Scott Gilchrist (pictured on the right) who worked alongside him at Gleneagles.
Playfair’s is a family run business and forms part of the Ardgowan Hotel which is located just above the restaurant. We take pride in looking after our guests and offering dishes you'll want to come back and try again!
Below is our story.
In the beginning…
…in 1847, native St Andrews architect George Rae designed the buildings on Playfair Terrace. The Ardgowan Hotel and Playfair’s Restaurant were born from the two houses situated at the end of the terrace!
Coming forward a year or two…
…Playfair’s Restaurant was bought by the McLachlan family in 2003 and was run by Roy and Eliza McLachlan along with Gary Foster, transforming the hotel from a 12 bedroom to a 36 bedroom business with a well-known restaurant.
Skip forward 9 years ...
...nearing retirement Roy and Eliza were delighted when in 2012, son Duncan decided he would like to join the business, heading up ‘Playfair’s Army’ in the kitchen as Head Chef. Then, in 2014 daughter Rachel also joined as Director of Marketing and Business Development rounding off the second generation of McLachlan's running the business.
The people behind the business…
…the restaurant was re-launched in February 2012 which saw a complete overhaul in design of the restaurant and also in the kitchen when Duncan joined as Head Chef. Duncan and Playfair's Army are passionate about serving innovative Scottish dishes and committed to striving for excellence. Duncan first worked at Playfair’s whilst still at school starting as a pot washer in the kitchen. He discovered a passion and skill for cooking which resulted in his progression to junior chef and later to sous chef.
To expand his knowledge, after finishing school he completed a Professional Cookery course at Elmwood College and a course in Hospitality at the University of Strathclyde. He completed his training with a two year stint at the prestigious Gleneagles Strathearn Restaurant. After gaining this invaluable experience, Duncan decided to join the family business where he has taken the helm. He is taking the restaurant from strength to strength.
In October 2014, Rachel joined the business as Director of Marketing and Business Development. Rachel worked in the Ardgowan and Playfair’s every summer from 2004 as housekeeper, waitress and receptionist whilst studying History at Dundee University. During this time Rachel discovered her skill and love for customer service and decided to pursue a career in hotels. Not ready to join the family business straight out of university she joined the Malmaison hotel group where she started as receptionist and worked her way up to Front Office Manager.
With an interest in marketing she then decided to study for a Professional Certificate in Marketing with the Chartered Institute of Marketing. She did this while working for a company in the energy sector within the marketing department. Rachel’s true love is hotels so she decided to join the family business to brand the hotel and restaurant and put in motion plans for expansion.
Last, but certainly not least is Gary Foster, the General Manager of the Ardgowan Hotel. Gary has been working in the business for 22 years and knows the hotel and St Andrews inside out. He started his career at the hotel as a kitchen porter in February 1992 and quickly worked his way up through the ranks in the kitchen to head chef.
Discovering untapped talents Gary then moved onto financial and operational management. When Roy and Eliza bought the business in 2003 they promoted him to General Manager of the business. Gary is now a director of the company focusing on operational efficiency and technology.
Come join and join Playfair’s Army for exceptional Scottish food and second to none service. Here at Playfair’s we always ‘gie it laldie’* to ensure our diners have an unforgettable experience and are left planning their next meal at Playfair’s.
You can see more about Playfair's Restaurant in St Andrews here.
*Definition: laldie &c (‘laldi’)
Get ~ gie someone ~
Laldie is a Scottish word most commonly seen in the expression to "Gie it laldie".
To give something laldie, whether it be singing a song or running a race, means to put in 100% effort, pull out all the stops, and do so with great enthusiasm or gusto.