Riverhill Coffee Bar24 Gordon Street,
0141 204 4762
£ – inexpensive
££ – mid-price
£££ – expensive
££££ – very expensive
Review published on 26/08/2013 © Sunday Herald
If I tell you the sandwiches come wrapped in greaseproof paper and tied with cutesy bits of string youll know where Im coming from. Is it twee? Or an icky little bit too fond of itself? Im not sure yet, but Riverhill is absolutely tiny. Really narrow.
Theres a shelf for eating on with your back to the serving counter, which is just an arms stretch away and packed with people looking at the food.
I have a cauliflower salad. Yes. Cauliflower. Not served in boutique-style greaseproof and string, sadly, but in a rather B&Q-style clear plastic salad box. I order it partly because it looks good with its halved boiled eggs and partly because it sounds so odd.
Inside, I find crisp bacon, chopped red onion, paprika, mayo and ... is there some sesame oil? Its actually excellent, full of punch and texture. As, Im bound to say, is the white and dark choc millionaire shortbread. I eat this while perching on a very uncomfortable wobbly stool and chatting to a nice Japanese woman who, like me, is waiting what seems forever for her hot drink to arrive. She thinks Edinburgh is nice, she tells me, but Glasgow is very exciting.
Given theres a whole pipe band out there on Gordon Street giving it ee-hah right now, I can see where shes coming from. Tokyo actually. Her husband is working at the crop research place in Dundee. For a moment we all wonder whether her peach tart is actually cherry its very red on top but she cuts it open revealing white peach hunks and pronounces it very nice.
Then the drinks arrive. Peppermint tea for me in a teabag too clever for its own good. Its more like a long pillowcase and hangs louchely over the cup edge before folding back onto the saucer and causing hot tea to run onto my trouser leg. Boo. Different for the sake of being different?
The millionaire shortbread is excellent, though, being at one moment gooey, then crunchy, then sweet and soft and caramelly then finally just a little bit shortbready. But not in a cheeky way. Super-sweet too.
I smile at the Tokyo lady as she leaves and turn to the sausage roll that we looked at with curiosity moments earlier. This is man food. Puddleduck pork with black pudding: it takes a bit of courage to charge four quid for it while within shouting distance of an outpost of the mighty Greggs empire where you can probably get half-a-dozen sossy rolls for the same price, but they do.
Do I like this? Urgh. Not at all. The pork and black pudding is a good idea if a tad heavy with fatty and micro-heated puff pastry but the sour taste of mustard pervades it all and leaves me stone cold. A triumph of style over substance?
I also have a Snickerdoodle bar to wade my way through here. Nice crisp texture very like Italian biscotti topped with toffee and peanuts and there may even been chunks of choc inside. Different.
Theres only so long I can stare at this brick wall, no matter how prettily the bricks are pointed, so lets turn and face the action. Did I say it was very narrow in here? The clientele is young, and there are lots of tourists. I notice it only takes someone to order a cappuccino and the queue starts to build up, but it doesnt last long. Everything, the girl at the counter told me earlier, is made freshly downstairs. Orange and almond with orange blossom, citrus billionaires that are gluten-free, chicken shawarma wraps bursting from their string and even something called the Crack Cookie at 95p a shot.
Is it all a little too twee? Actually, no. There is some genuinely interesting stuff in here.