Dunblane – The Riverside

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Eons ago I remembered passing a wee pub in the middle of nowhere whilst OH and I were out for a run in the car near Dunkeld – in my memory it looked like the pub from American Werewolf in London. Since then it’s been in some deep recess in my head for somewhere to visit. Having found the pub (Sheriffmuir Inn)  I started looking up its reviews on Tripadvisor and they were so divided it put me off. It was either great – “I felt like royalty” or “I can’t believe I drove all the way there – wish I had went to the Riverside”. It was that review that made me look up The Riverside in Dunblane.  Then their website got me hooked. I phoned late on a Friday night (about 10ish) and got a lovely bloke on the phone who managed to have a conversation with me even though the atmosphere behind him was making it very difficult. It was that background noise that made me want to go to the Riverside even more.

When we arrived in Dunblane we parked at the Cathedral and walked along the Allan River into the centre of town. The river was high and fast flowing – almost quite mesmerising at points. We had a dander up the high street and went into a few shops. Dunkeld has loads of interesting wee shops from high end present shops to antique shops,  brilliant rake around charity shops, classy boutiques and THE best butcher for sausage rolls ever! Honestly, we were just walking past and saw them in the window and just had to go in to buy some. And as I am typing this hours later I can confirm that they were just as good as they look and I would easily drive back to Dunblane just to buy another sausage roll from Bennets!!!!!

After a very enjoyable wander up and down the High Street, we went into the Riverside with our appetites at a peak. On entry there is a sign to stand at to be seated. I always love these as it means you are being taken care of right from the start – none of this looking around to see if someone saw you coming in nonsense.  We were ushered through to the back and looking at it now I think this may be the family room but fair play to the families that were there as their kids were really well behaved and didn’t annoy me at all and I have to say kids in restaurants usually annoy me A LOT.

For starters I had the Cream of Cauliflower soup, which was lovely but I wish I didn’t chomp the watercress garnish as it really didn’t add to the flavour and If I’m being really picky the butter could of been a little less hard as it ripped my sour dough bread apart…obviously I struggled through regardless.

OH had potted smoked mackerel, crème fraiche, chives, butter, gin pickled cucumber and soldiers. It came in a little pickling jar and he raved about it – you know how he usually says it was tasty well today it was “chunky, fresh, creamy, it wasn’t a smooth pate but had flakes in it and it was just enough as well”.  High praise indeed!2014-04-26 13.12.37a

I do try to cook a wee bit at home and often on Sundays I will follow a recipe and try my best. OH is lovely and will often say when we’re out for a meal that I could have cooked it. Therefore,  I’ve now decided to start going for dishes I wouldn’t normally chose from a menu or cook at home. So today I plumped for  Gin & Star Anise marinated Venison Loin, Caramelized Onion Mash and Juniper Jus.2014-04-26 13.34.39

I hate to be a cliché but right from the start I bit off more than I could chew. I reckon if I had a steak knife I could have handled this better but having managed to saw off a sizeable chunk of the venison – I just went for it. 5 minutes later and I’m still chewing. OH asked if I wish I had ordered the fish pie. Yes, a little.

Saying that, once I got the hang of the sawing I started enjoying the venison and although I couldn’t taste the gin (probably because gin is a taste I really enjoy) I could savour the star anise.

OH had the steak burger with brioche bun, lettuce, vine tomato, dill pickle, mustard mayo, twice fired fries and relish. He’s said it was decent, nice and juicy. It wasn’t one big burger but 3 wee ones (probably from the sliders that were also on the menu) but he wants a special mention for the roll which was good as it had a “light crisp on top and it wasn’t doughy and it didn’t fall apart”.2014-04-26 14.10.44

The attention to detail in The Riverside deserves a mention. The brown paper menu’s, the labels on the table, the syrup tin sugar bowls, the mulberry colour scheme, the wooden tables and chairs, the quotes on the walls and the bill arriving in a children’s book all come together to give a calm, interesting dining experience.

I’m not a pudding person (you probably know that by now) so I just asked for another large glass of Merlot and OH had a coffee instead of a coke. The bill came to £50 (that’s 2 starters, 2 mains, 2 large glasses of wine, a coke and a coffee).

and (just in case your mum asks) the toilets were clean and worth a visit!

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After our meal we headed back up the High Street and popped into the Museum. There was lots to see but my favourite bit was the ginger tablet at £1.20 – don’t ask, just go and buy it – it’s amazing. We also ventured into the Cathedral for a look around – make sure to ask someone in a tartan waistcoat the story about the girls being poisoned 😉

After leaving Dunblane we headed out of the small Cathedral town and decided to pop into the Sheriffmuir Inn, which is a short drive through some lovely scenery. I was curious to see how it would have compared to our lunch in the Riverside Inn. We ventured in and ordered drinks. The barmaid was lovely, friendly and couldn’t have been more helpful and the decor was gorgeous – polished wood, iron work and dark blue tartan. I loved the bar stools. BUT IT WAS DEAD. We were there around 4.30ish and when we were paying for our drinks the barmaid had to ‘open up’ the til, which I’m pretty sure meant they hadn’t had anyone in before us. The menu on the wall looked appetising and was roughly £4 dearer per dish than the Riverside. I kind of still want to eat at the Sheriffmuir Inn but I’m really glad we went to the Riverside today and for those people that have already been to Dunblane (you know who I’m looking at!) and didn’t eat at the Riverside get back there and try it out . You won’t be disappointed.