A relaxed, informal neighbourhood bistro offering great cocktails and a welcoming environment.
While on a mini break (down the road) in Helensburgh last week, we were lucky enough to get an afternoon *baby free* while Joseph spent some time playing with his lovely grandparents.
This is the first time ever that my partner and I have had the chance for a few hours by ourselves (what with living so far from family), so we ceased the opportunity and hot-footed it off to enjoy some peace and quiet as Joseph tucked into an ice cream.
The Sugar Boat
We were so lucky with the weather as the sun beamed down all afternoon and not a cloud touched the sky, making the little town of Helensburgh feel like a Spanish village in the height of summer. What would we do with our free time?!
We just so happened to stumble across Sugar Boat tucked away in the corner of Colquhoun square, which you could easily overlook, especially if the weather isn't so nice. However, the array of umbrellas and chairs laid out for sunning and relaxing (and the promise of cocktails!) welcomed us in.
Upon entering, you can tell this is a new venue; everything is fresh and clean and the decor is impossibly hip, boasting an island bar lined with colourful cabinets of liquor, fine wines, craft beers and over 25 Scottish gins (heavenly!). There's surely something to suit all tastes.
There is an area for casual bar seating, as well as an impressive size restaurant and garden further back – something you certainly wouldn't guess from the outside chocolate-box appearance.
The drinks menu itself is just the type of menu that makes me smile from ear to ear; small, not over fussy, no silly names and no artificially bright colours in sight. The cocktails were reasonably priced at around £6.50 a drink and they also offer 5 different cocktails priced at £5.
The Sugar Boat
The drinks were truly fabulous; perfectly balanced and clearly created by someone with a great palette for flavour combinations. There were some old favourites kept classic and simple, but also some that had been given a sugar boat twist. My partner asked if the barman could do an Old Fashioned (that wasn't on the menu) and he whipped one up no problem. My partner even said it's one of the best he's had. I had a Gin Bramble and it was delicious!
Although we didn't eat, the food we saw looked and smelled delicious and what we loved about the menu is that there is a real focus on local produce and the quality of the ingredients truly stand out in the simple array of well-balanced dishes that hide behind nothing.
The Sugar Boat
They are open from 10am and have a full breakfast menu (including coffee and homemade scones!), a daily changing lunch menu and an a la carte bistro menu. They even have a simple but pleasing children's menu.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first (but certainly not last!) experience of The Sugar Boat and even though I visited without my son, I feel that this is a place that would be great for the whole family. They offer facilities that accommodate all ages and I feel I wouldn't be given a disapproving look for a thrown chicken goujon or two!
My advice? Visit alone if you can to "test" the cocktails, then go with the family for an evening of fine dining in a relaxed and happy atmosphere.
The Balloon Festival features all sorts of entertainment in the park, during the Family Fun Day: music, dancers, birds of prey to see up close, a fun fair, stalls, classic vehicles and much, much more.