The Riverhill's menu has imagination and bravery, though the actual execution of the dishes isn’t quite up to par (yet), finds Gaby Soutar

I’m psychic. I can predict what dishes a restaurant will offer before I even look at its website or lurch through its door.
Mind you, maybe I better not book my roadshow as a rival to Sally Morgan or Derren Brown quite yet.
After reviewing restaurants for eight years, there aren’t a lot of dishes I haven’t seen on menus, and places can be somewhat predictable. My life generally passes in a blur of sea bass, ox cheek, panna cotta and crème brûlée.
I was prepared to skim read the menu at this place (the newest link in a small empire that includes a coffee shop on nearby Gordon Street and another eatery in Helensburgh), but it was not as anticipated. I have never seen cho cho, or, for that matter, horse whelk fritters and cauliflower skordalia, on any food list.
Everything sounded fantastical, as if Tolkien or Lewis Carroll had written the menu, rather than someone boring like, say, Martin Amis.
It made me feel as if I’d washed down three Pro Plus with a macchiato and a can of Red Bull. Finally I was awake, alive, and excited to try a dish of grilled octopus (£7) and another of those aforementioned fritters (£5.50).
The octopus dish featured tender tentacles and body parts of this Mr Tickle of the sea, plus spicy chorizo discs, a pool of smoked butter, blistered cherry tomatoes, waxy potato chunks and flaked almonds. It was a good summery assemblage that tasted of holidays.

“Everything sounded fantastical, as if Tolkien or Lewis Carroll had written the menu”

Our other starter consisted of three balls of breadcrumbed mashed sea snail with flammable seams of Scotch bonnet. Each of these was suckered to the plate with blobs of opaque and speckled jerk aioli, and, in the middle of the scene, was a pile of lavender-coloured chopped pickled onion mixed with chunky cubes of similarly vinegary cho cho (a tropical fruit).
My main of cheddar and potato pierogies (£9.50) arrived in the shape of five toasted pasty-shaped boiled dumplings, each stuffed with an oniony mixture that also featured a very feral-tasting fromage. They said this was Mull cheddar, but it was headier than that – goaty even. To offset the whiff was a blob of crème fraîche and some caraway seed-dotted sauerkraut.
Great so far, but the beef rendang (£12.50) didn’t quite live up to expectations, which hurts all the more when something reads so well.
Though there was plenty of shredded meat, this wet Malaysian curry lacked depth and was rather sloppily piled onto the plate. Also, we were sad that the accompanying boiled egg had gone awol, the lime leaf rice wasn’t much to write home about and a folded flatbread on the side was rather dry.
Considering they do a good-looking selection of cakes up on the counter here and round the corner at their cafe, and are obviously genned up on their sugarcraft, the salted caramel popcorn posset with candied bacon (£5) was an utter car crash.
It was served with pomp in a cone over a glass container full of ice, with kernels of plain popcorn and pecan brittle dust scattered across the plate underneath. Someone seemed to have forgotten to add anything sweet to the posset and eating our way through claggy double cream with the texture of putty, which was topped with crispy springs of pig, was an endurance test akin to taking part in Tough Mudder.
The grilled pineapple, coconut and lime sponge (£6) was better, if a bit dessicated, though the pale green matcha ice-cream helped to lubricate its yellow crumb.
What a sad ending to the story. Still, someone in the kitchen has imagination and bravery, even if the actual execution of dishes isn’t quite up to par (yet). I was going to use my psychic powers to send them a telepathic message saying so, but I think this review should do the job.

Riverhill Restaurant, Glasgow, restaurant review
Food65%
Ambience75%
70%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (5 Votes)
67%

About The Author

Gaby Soutar

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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