This year has undoubtedly been the year of the staycation.
Whether that’s been braving the 12-hour door-to-door car ride to Cornwall, heading into the hills armed with a tent and whatever you can carry, or packing in the local day trips, it’s been another year of really exploring what’s under our noses rather than hopping on a plane at first opportunity.
That is certainly no bad thing, especially when it means you discover new places to eat.
The Waterside Restaurant, within the Glen Mhor Hotel in Inverness, is one of those places.
I’ve been to Inverness plenty of times, both for work and pleasure, and have never spotted it tucked away on the banks of the River Ness.
And when researching for this review, I knew I was not the only one who has missed out – with even some Invernessians not necessarily knowing it is there.
If that is you, I urge you to make a booking now. You won’t regret it.
The restaurant is the perfect spot for an informal meal with friends or family, and guests can choose to sit in the airy, modern dining area which has been tastefully decorated to let in plenty of light, or the huge dog-friendly beer garden out the front.
My dining companion Michelle and I decided to make the most of the sunshine, and picked a table that let us watch the river sparkle as it meandered past St Andrew’s Cathedral and down towards Eden Court.
Sometimes it can be the case that if you’re outside you feel forgotten, but the staff were friendly and attentive – never leaving it too long to check in on us, without being pushy.
Once we started looking at the menu it quickly became clear there was some negotiating to be done to ensure we could sample as much of the tempting menu as possible.
I plumped for the goat’s cheese tart, while Michelle went for the soup of the day, despite the blazing sunshine.
My tart was perhaps a little more quiche-like than I’d have expected, but delicious all the same and the tangy red onion marmalade that came with it complemented it perfectly. Michelle’s soup – a red pepper and lentil concoction – was lapped up in minutes, with a satisfied nod.
It was the mains that really delivered though, and it became apparent we’d both made good choices.
We had both been tempted by the chicken breast stuffed with sundried tomatoes and basil, but in the end I opted for the grilled herb crusted haddock.
The chicken dish was a generous size for a lunch time menu offering, and got the thumbs up across the table. The chicken was juicy, with the tomatoes and basil tantalisingly oozing from it as Michelle cut it into it. It came served with creamy mash and a delicious-smelling herb pesto.
Meanwhile my haddock, which was served with herb crushed potatoes and a red pepper coulis, was also a hit. The white flaky fish fell onto my fork and I made quick work of the dish.
Looking around the bustling restaurant and beer garden, everyone seemed just as satisfied with their meal and the atmosphere was great. The tables are all spaced out comfortably – much as they would have been before Covid – and the happy babble of chatter around us was great to hear after so many months away from dining out.
Given it was a working lunch, we skipped the puddings but were not hurried away as we enjoyed our drinks in the sunshine, chatting about exotic holidays of the past and where we might head next.
And while it might be a few more months until either of us hop on a plane, I don’t think it’ll be long until we’re back at The Waterside.
Address: The Waterside Restaurant, 7-19 Ness Bank, Inverness, IV2 4SG
T: 01463 234308
Price: £31.50 for two starters, two mains and two soft drinks
- Food: 4/5
- Service: 4/5
- Surroundings: 5/5