Spending a full day in Dunblane, I wanted to ensure I had a good lunch. I asked a local who was out walking her dog for a recommendation for lunch – her suggestion was The Riverside Restaurant.
As the name suggests, the restaurant is at the side of the river running through Dunblane – the Allan Water – but it was a bit too damp to sit out on their little terrace which looks over the river. I can imagine it would be a beautiful setting on a warm summer’s day (we don’t get many hot days in Scotland). You can just about make out the terrace in the photograph below. I think its ironic that I’d taken this photo when I arrived in Dunblane, hours before lunch. Regrettably it never occurred to me to take a photograph of the front of the restaurant, facing the road.
On opening the door to the restaurant, the bar was facing me with the check-in desk to the side. Although the lady I assumed to be the Manager was busy she did acknowledge me; but I was also struck by the friendliness of the “hello” from the person behind the bar. I also noticed this welcome was equally as warm and friendly with everyone else who arrived after me. I had arrived a little after 12, so the restaurant was still quite quiet. I worried a little that they might work on reservations, but they had a table and could accommodate me.
The restaurant was clean, bright and airy and there felt as though there was plenty of space between tables; you didn’t feel like you were sitting in your neighbour’s lap.
While my lunch visit was ad hoc I was quickly aware of many groups arriving who had table reservations and the back room I could see from my table was filling up quickly.
Despite being lunchtime, I did notice some people were calling in for drinks and the restaurant team were happy to accommodate them too. I always worry if I just want coffee etc over lunch time and have been turned away in the past elsewhere, so it was refreshing to see a restaurant which was so accommodating and irrespective of the type of service required by the customers – someone wishing drinks was treated in exactly the same way as a family coming in for lunch.
It was also about 2.30 pm when I left and they still seemed to be accepting people calling in for late lunches, so I’m not sure what their opening/closing times are, but they certainly seemed flexible.
The restaurant had a good team of staff who were attentive and friendly. Tables did not appear to be left sitting too long waiting for service or for their food arriving from the kitchen. The staff checked to see that the food etc was acceptable, if the customers needed anything, but at the same time it didn’t feel intrusive.
It is said we should enjoy food with all of our senses and my senses were all being teased even before I got to taste anything delivered to my own table. I was sitting facing the entrance into the dining room from the kitchen so was able to see the food arriving and when some plates were carried past me to a table behind me, I could smell the delicious fresh aromas of freshly cooked battered fish. The food all appeared to be made fresh to order. I am not a fan of battered fish, but this smelled so amazing that I did kind of regret my decision – but not for long. My own order did not disappoint.
The menu offered a selection of sandwiches and full meals to choose from. I opted for a burger made with Scottish steak, along with additions of brie and sweet cured bacon. The steak was served with a portion of chips and a side serving of relish which to my mind was homemade – it had that chunky, homemade feel to it – it was delicious – a hint of bbq, but also had a chili kick.
I was surprised to be asked how I wanted my burger cooked (I remember being told at some point that minced beef should always be cooked thoroughly) but I guess if the burger is made with quality steak, it can be served rare. That said, I played it safe and had it well done. The burger, when it arrived, was huge and I had to admit defeat and eat it with a fork and knife rather than my fingers. The burger was perfectly cooked and melted in the mouth; I wasn’t sure about the brie rather than cheddar but it complemented the bacon and just made the burger taste creamy. The menu doesn’t give any indication of the size of the burger, but it was a filling meal.
Despite being filling, eating at a restaurant for me means ice cream. However, as the Riverside also had sorbet on the menu, I opted for a scoop of mango sorbet and one of blood orange. I felt like I was in heaven. The flavours were so fruity, not too sweet. The orange had a tanginess to it which worked perfectly with the mango. After my sorbet, I waited a little, wrote up some blogging notes of my visit to Dunblane and ordered a cappuccino to finish off my meal.
A perfect break for lunch on my visit to Dunblane and set me up well for my afternoon visit to the Cathedral. I suspect when I next return to Dunblane, I’ll come back to The Riverside for coffee and scones if the ones on display are an example of what they provide.
If you wish to visit the restaurant yourself, their website can be accessed here
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