After reading about La Barca's brilliant 4th win, I began thinking about the "foodie" direction Helensburgh seems to be heading in. Helensburgh is becoming a destination town known for its food and so far local restaurateurs have been careful with the style of food they've chosen for their restaurants. Milan and Cara Nikolic have expanded their business cleverly, filling gaps in the market with La Barca, then Cattle and Creel and now La Padrone. Fruin Farm filled a much needed gap of being genuinely child friendly but also serving good food. The Sugar Boat is opening soon but without eating there it's hard to say what gap they'll fill. Peckhams are opening up in the old council offices on Sinclair Street. What else could Helensburgh take? Would there be enough room for a dedicated seafood restaurant or Japanese maybe?
There's talk that the town is reaching saturation point with the number of restaurants but, with the business rents, what else can afford to take the vacant spaces? These days restaurateurs are savvy business people not just "passionate chefs" and will have done their homework. My thoughts are that, provided no one sets up in direct competition for the evening crowd, with similar styles of food as current successful restaurants but instead aims to meet as yet undiscovered demands then the town can take a few more.
These are my favourite 5 restaurants in the Helensburgh and Lomond area at the moment.
#1 The Riverhill Courtyard
#2The Loch Lomond Arms Hotel
#3 Cattle and Creel
#5 Fruin Farm
I have to declare an interest here. I've worked in the Courtyard, first under Johnny Aitken and then Dom Wrighthouse, and I absolutely love their style of food so I am biased towards them but Cattle and Creel is good too and you would be foolish to discount PJ's. PJ's may not be open every night but his menus are fresh and exciting and a meal at PJ's is always a safe bet. The Loch Lomond Arms went through a disappointing phase a couple of years ago but is back on track and eating there is an absolute pleasure, their recent awards are justly deserved. I love Fruin Farm too, it doesn't matter whether it's cake and coffee, lunch or supper, the food is always good and the service friendly.
We are spoilt for choice here when it comes to eating out locally, the number of award winning restaurants for this relatively small area is impressive and I'm looking forward to Helensburgh's foodie future.