“ Address: The Castle Business Park / Craigforth / Stirling / Stirlingshire / FK9 4TW / Tel: 01786 465577 „
"Ladies who lunch" also eat dinner and I was lucky enough to be one of a group who visited The River House restaurant near Stirling recently as a farewell meal for our retiring president.
The setting is lovely with Stirling Castle close by and a loch in front of the buildings which are based on the shape of Scottish crannogs. Only a few minutes from the motorway junction, there was plenty of parking including spaces for the disabled.
Entering through double doors there was a reception desk for Conference visitors who can enjoy good food and great facilities and as it is situated at the edge of a business park it is ideal for meetings. The dining room appeared to be in two sections with the bar and lounge area between, there was room for about 50 people in the section we were seated.
The website says they provide freshly prepared, quality cuisine at affordable prices, and I have to admit I was pleased when I saw the bill! Open every day they have lunches from £6.95 for a two course, early bird menu at night between 5pm and 7pm on Monday to Saturday and 8pm on a Sunday at £12.95 for a starter and main dish and complimentary small glass of wine, beer or soft drink, it's certainly worth going earlier if you don't mind a slightly restricted choice of menu. There was also a board with specials for the day, giving a great selection for all tastes. There was a choice for vegetarian meals and a different menu for coeliac's so one of our group could enjoy her steak with sauce which was made with cornflour instead.
We were all travelling by car so enjoyed a drink in the lounge area in comfortable chairs whilst waiting for everyone to arrive, but were taken over to the table as soon as we were ready. The table was set for ten people and we had tables of ten either side of us, making it difficult to get into our seats and almost impossible for the waiter to serve the people in the centre of the table. But fortunately they left by the time we got to our desserts and we found it easier then.
The people who had been before suggested we started with a main course and if had room after could have a sweet, because they had had starters before and couldn't eat their mains. As I've been trying to lose weight I thought the idea of a sweet was magic! My choice was grilled Red Mullet on a herb and crab mash with lime dressing. There were extra potatoes, broccoli, red cabbage and swede served separately. I was very good and didn't try the crusty bread and butter which was served after we had ordered. Mt Red Mullet was cooked to perfection, although the mash was a little dry. My meal cost £13.50, the vegetarian dish of brie, red pepper, sun blushed tomatoes en croute served on smoked cheese sauce was a mere £8.95 and was delicious I'm told, although it had rather slipped in the sauce reaching the middle of the table so didn't look as attractive as it should have! Several other choices were about £13.95, the steak a pound dearer and pan fried venison £15.95. The lady who had the venison didn't eat it all - her comment was she was a "lazy eater", but I think it was a little over cooked and therefore a bit dry and tough, which was a pity, as deer are running wild not so many miles from the restaurant. Although we had wine, we were provided with a jug of iced water at no extra charge.
Most of us discovered we could manage to eat a dessert - what a surprise! Even those of us who were dieting, and the waiter managed to get one lady some lovely strawberry sorbet as she didn't want creamy things. Desserts were about £4.95, the berry pannacotta I had was lovely, and the crème brulee too was very popular. A few people resisted and coffee and tea was enjoyed by half of us, with a piece of homemade tablet - a Scottish sweet a bit like fudge, but more melt in your mouth than chewy. The total menu for food and coffees came to about £180 excluding the wine which we thought was very good.
There was a television on in the bar area but not loud enough to be annoying, I couldn't say if there was music as we were talking too much to notice! The ladies toilets were clean and there was a separate one for disabled guests, I presume the gents was OK, as we were a ladies group I can't comment! All the staff were very pleasant, especially the young man who took our orders.
There are sometimes offers on and special meals and a loyalty card if you eat regularly there or there other restaurants in St Andrews.
Would I recommend eating here? Yes definitely and I hope to be back in the not too distant future, perhaps a lunch if we have a morning shopping in Stirling, but I would suggest booking as it was very busy on the Thursday night when we visited. A pleasant situation with beautiful food and a good price too. What more can you want?