How to Eat and Drink for Free in St Andrews

Two first years procrastinate creatively.

In an honest attempt to do some revision in the St Mary’s Quad library, (where they do £2 lunches at 1 pm during the week), Iona and I were distracted by coffee cravings and surges of creativity. With empty stomachs and empty wallets, we set ourselves the challenge of obtaining tasters from as many shops as possible on the three main streets of St Andrews. Believe it or not, in under an hour we succeeded in doing this with twelve different shops. Cheapskates, scroungers, or students – call us what you like. It seemed a very productive and fulfilling excuse not to do revision.

Fancy a free coffee? I said to Iona. Yes please! It is the worst kept secret in St Andrews that if you go for a browse in Topping and Company, after about fifteen minutes of sincere “browsing” you will be offered a free tea or coffee.

Next stop, Taste of Scotland for a quick bite of shortbread and fudge; this is also our go-to place for a bit of free gin tasting on certain days of the week. We overstayed our welcome and ran off to Tesco.

Didn’t you know Tesco offers free fruit for kids? We’re kids, right? Help yourselves to some apples.

While on the subject of fruit, why not try some fermented grapes at St Andrews Wine Company? There, you’ll find four bottles open; two red and two white. We would recommend the red. Cabernet Franc 2013 by Waterklof – Stellenbosch South Africa. In fact, they do advertise that in store tastings are always free, so don’t be shy! The shop assistant is lovely, however, so don’t take advantage of his generosity!

Fancy more booze? Why not try Luvians? Why can’t two first years be whiskey connoisseurs? Yes, you may be roped into joining the Whisky Tasting Society like we were, but it’s all in good fun. 

At this point, we were feeling rather drunk. Fancy a cig? Nope? Let’s get something better with a higher dose of nicotine! Vaporized, on South Street, suggests that you try before you buy, which we did indeed. All flavours, all doses. Extra points for smoke rings.

Now we were pushing our luck with I J Mellis Cheesemonger, where we asked to try some Roquefort. They were very reluctant at first to cut us a slice but when they did we devoured every morsel of it. (They didn’t look particularly happy.)

Next up is Iain Burnett the Highland Chocolatier on South Street. They are having a closing down sale now, so they will let you try most things! 

Next to Fisher & Donaldson (no free cake unfortunately) is a lovely Turkish boutique called Sweetheart, the most unlikely place to offer tasters. Yet we managed to savour their Turkish delights!

Amazing news! If you download the Tailend Loyalty App you can have a free fish supper! At this point we were feeling quite ill, so we skipped this one. But I did go back another day and had free fish and chips – highly recommend it!

Feeling pooped after all the hard work snacking, we went for a sneaky (and free!) nap in Renton Oriental Rugs. They didn’t notice.

Looking a little shabby after our eating and drinking escapades, we asked for our eyebrows to be shaped and shaded at Bobbi Brown.

We did make one purchase that day, and that was at Brew Co. We bought a pint to celebrate our success – and then were given one on the house. No flirting necessary!

I can imagine your bank balance is looking as miserable as mine. If so, this is a practical and rewarding way to spend the day in St Andrews. Our next challenge is to get a free meal at Forgans.

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