I haven’t had high tea since I was a kid, but as I was off to an event at Eden Court, I couldn’t linger over dinner at The Waterside Hotel, Inverness.
Situated right on the riverbank, this homely hotel with its panoramic windows on the world outside is perfect for people watching and calming the soul.
Time was pressing and I was in a hurry, though – so I let the friendly staff know and they pulled out all the stops to oblige.
The comfortable restaurant, with its white linen tablecloths and twinkling tealights, was beginning to fill up with people spilling in from the attractive lounge bar next door. In came families, couples, friends – and a mother and father meeting their daughter’s partner for the first time. There was very interesting earwigging to be done!
I’d forgotten that high tea involves toast, so was slightly confused when my small glass of red (a nice Rioja at £6.35 a glass) came with a rack of warmish slices of brown and white. I stuck to the liquid and awaited my order - chicken with haggis on a stack of root vegetables with a whisky cream sauce.
Outside, the bridge over the Ness changed coulour - a succession of beautiful neons - and the river flowed towards the Moray Firth while the lights of Eden Court beckoned. With such a fabulous view the Waterside’s Reflexions conservatory restaurant is definitely in one of the best spots in the Highlands.
Such beauty wasn’t replicated on my plate of food, however. At first sight the chicken looked hard and dry, the stack of root vegetables more of a deflated step and little had been done to make it look like a stunning dish. A top chef once told me ‘height is everything’ and this had, well, nothing.
I’m a bit of a foodie so I’d say this was made to a good homemade standard, but there’s always something disappointing about paying for something you could’ve made better at home yourself. On the plus side, at £10.95 it didn’t exactly break the bank.
I hadn’t eaten all day, though, so was ravenous.
The root veg stackette was tasty, but the chicken was, as I suspected, overdone and dry, with a bit of an unintentional crust (never good!). However the whisky cream sauce saved the day - it was well seasoned and disguised the crustiness, so the dish was gone in no time. (I told you I was ravenous.)
All in all, the setting of Reflexions is wonderful, but the food (along with that terrible mis-spelt ’80s throwback name) has a way to go to match the splendour of the view.
The Waterside Hotel is at 19 Ness Bank, Inverness IV2 4SF. Call 01463 233065 to make a reservation. The staff serve high tea from 4-7pm each day, but there are lots of options if you do want to linger for the whole evening as their A la Carte menu is served until 9pm.