Excerpt from Glasgow Herald
Review by Ron McKenna
...Sometimes Scottish food, is, well, surprisingly good. Take the light and billowy goat's cheese souffle with a biting spinach and tomato salad. Superb. Take the mushroom risotto that came with perfectly seared corn-fed chicken breast...this is a forkfuls-passed-round-the-table dish.
Willowy mushrooms, creamy rice and a deep rumbling aftertaste of cheese that sneaks up, slaps the palate then lopes slowly off...The onion rings that accompany the warm pigeon breast, avocado and orange salad are, quite frankly, perfect...onions wafer-thin, dipped into a translucent but super-crisp and oil free batter and perched delicately, and seductively, just three of them on the plate. Effort. Pride.
The menu is full of vigour and vim. Modern and youthful. Oh, and that big, crude side dish of vegetables. There's pollack with lentils, capers and brown butter on the menu. There's shin of beef with ale and mustard mash on my plate. Yes, shin of beef. The sort of slow-cooked, delicately flavoured and textured stuff your granny may have made. Delicious. and in vogue. And beautifully presented. And categorically not in need of an ugly trough of carrots, watery potatoes and greens.
It's as if the chef, having spent so much time getting everything looking just right on the plate, suddenly bottles it and fires to a mountain of extra food in case the customers are still hungry.
...The glazed lemon tart? a crisp sugary glaze cracking under the fork to unleash sharp lemony flavours. Th vanilla creme brulee? Yes something could possibly be made of the the fact that the vanilla seeds have slumped to the bottom, only becoming apparant as a dark speckled mass when the last mouthfuls are take. But it is still delicious.
Finally, The service. How can you fault friendly waiting staff who pick up a wailing wean and cheer him up? You can't...
Excerpt from The Evening Times
Take A Trip Off Beaten Track For Sweet Dreams
Seek out this family run restaurant, but make sure you leave room for afters.
...Now Strathaven is a bit beyond my usual stampig ground but the sun had been shining for more than a couple of days so it seemed worth the risk of heading into the wilderness.
Apart from that, I'd heard a whisper that I wouldn't be dissapointed despite the long drive.
The only thing I knew about Strathaven, apart from toffee that's really tablet, was that it had a park and, after a friendly garage owner gave us directions to Lethame Road, that it is soon to become a one-filling-station town.
Rissons is in the Springvale Hotel, a cosy 10-room family-run place. The main dining area is light and airy with a one-table-wide conservatory along the back wall giving a panoramic view of the park.
However, what mattered was the food.
The waitress turned out to be co-owner with her husband, the chef.
The Moll cast her eye over the menu before deciding on haggis in a Darmbuie sauce while I went for the chicken liver pate in a port sauce.
The haggis was a work of art...a half inch of haggis on top of slices of mash and turnip but the sauce was out of this world. It was rich, creamy and almost worth licking the plate for.
My pate was pleasant enough but again it was the sauce that made it great with the richness of the port cutting through the liver nicely.
For mains the Moll ordered grilled salmon on a hot horseradish sauce while I chose loin of lamb swimming in a rich wine gravy.
Amazingly, we reckoned we had room for pudding. I went for a sticky toffee pudding on the recommendation of the waitress who said ‘Honestly, it's the best I've ever tasted.’
It was a wonderful creation, being light, not stodgy and with just a hint of ginger.
However, it was the Moll's sweet that made the night - a dish so unusual she had to try it - spiced rhubarb with cinnamon cream.
The cream was thick enough to hold its pudding-bowl shape and the rhubarb made me wish my window box was big enough to plant some.
As we drove out of town the Moll patted me on the head, saying ‘I think we can have the top back now dear...and I'll let you keep your hair on too.’
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR:
A nice drive in the country.
WHAT TO AVOID:
Trying to find the beaten track without help, as Rissons is well off it.