It is a very rare occasion that I venture into town. This is mainly because I am not a fan of chain restaurants and light up signs. Call me a traditionalist if you will, but I am sick and tired of burgers, sick and tired of horrendous staff uniforms and sick and tired of finding the same damn restaurants in every city. To me, that is not a selling point and I am not proud of Glasgow’s multiple Nando’s and Zizzi’s, to name but a few.
This is not simply a rant, you will be happy to know, but a celebration of a boldness and creativity. This may all sound like I have been going on an artistic rampage, however, it translates to amazing food, that is original and delicious.
Found smack bang in the middle of town is the Riverhill Coffee Shop’s new restaurant offering Riverhill West Nile Street. It was a few weeks ago that myself and my favourite eatery chum visited and it happened to be their opening week. I am not normally someone who would choose to go to restaurant as soon as they open, as I feel they need a chance to right some little wrongs, and get used to service, thus any negative things I had to say would be overly harsh.
This said, it was a Saturday and we needed somewhere to eat.
Riverhill is perhaps initially easy to walk past on the street because all the surrounding units blind you with neon, but it is a nirvana of simplicity when you do. It is quite narrow and the walls are covered with simplistic yet interesting art, with the overall impression of care and warmth and a well-stocked gantry.
We have a tendency to order perhaps too much food- we don’t get out much so when we do it’s a rather glutinous affair and tonight was no different. The menu is perhaps initially intimidating, as there is a wide array of cuisines, ranging in inspiration and cultural roots. This normally makes me very dubious as I wonder how can a place cook all these different and complex offerings well, but I was completely totted off my soapbox and proved wrong.
We ordered a myriad of starters; this dish of Queenie Scallops was one of the first to arrive at the table and it smelt divine. the little scallops were smothered in a mull cheddar bechamel sauce that had little flecks of salty and still crispy bacon. A perfect example of French-style bistro food at its best, I could eat plates and plates and plates of this.
The pressed crispy lamb shank was also delicious and the feta added an unexpected Moroccan twist to the dish, working with the classic mint and green sauce that tasted slightly of garlic. I will say however that the fat of the lamb shank could have been rendered slightly more, although I imagine this is rather difficult with the addition of a flavoured and crispy crust.
I have a slight soft spot for octopus (have a read at my first review at Table Eleven) and I loved Riverhill’s spiced offering. The octopus was perfectly cooked and the spice worked very well and did not overtake the taste of the main ingredient. However, I do think there was entirely too much oil, with both butter and chorizo brings salty goodness to the plate, but also an excess of oils. Otherwise, it was delicious.
We also had the Horse Whelk Fritters, jerk aioli, cho cho, scotch bonnet and pickled onions. I had no idea what half the things on the plate were, but they were all delicious and worked so well together and I ate them too quickly to photograph…
We surprisingly still had room for mains and decided to order two at differing ends of the cultural spectrum; one French and one Asian. The above dish was my favourite dish by far and I think its something Riverhill should be very proud of. Here my words fail me as I simply don’t think they will do this main justice. It was sumptuously rich and creamy, with the braised and shredded rabbit contrasting with the slightly pan friend gnocchi, which gave it a crispy shell and smooth centre. You need to try it, you just need to try it.
The contrast in styles between the two mains is amazing; the Beef Rengdang was also an excellent plate of food, as the curry was full of spice but not only with chillies, thus it had a depth of flavour that is sometimes difficult to find in Scotland. If I was to make any criticism, I would perhaps pair it with something other than lime rice as it was slightly dry and tasteless, but what I would change it to I have no idea, as I am really picking at straws.
I was very full at this point and could not even think about dessert but my favourite eatery chum fancied one and it’s not very difficult to persuade me to try a posset. This said, I was quite disappointed as the posset tasted mainly of cream with no added flavour, with the only real flavour coming from the brittle and popcorn, however, it was presented originally and looke drather beautiful.
This was definitely a dessert for chocolate lovers and it was beautifully rich, so what doesn’t look like a lot on the plate was actually just enough as you definitely couldn’t eat much of it, even with dessert wine.
Overall I loved my dinner at Riverhill and I can’t wait to return and see how they grow. The service was faultless even though it was their opening week and there was a little glitch with the music and a painting, the staff kept calm and provided personable and informed service that I can’t commend enough. I can only hope their bravery and creativity spread to the rest of Glasgow City Centre.