Having had experience of running high end restaurants in London, owner Will Smith decided it was time return to his native Scotland to start his own venture.
The results of his gamble are an all-day bistro called the Sugar Boat, which sits prettily within the confines of Colquhoun Square in Helensburgh. Open from morning to night, you can drop in for a takeaway coffee and croissant before work, settle in for a long weekend brunch, enjoy cake and a cuppa, take your time over languid lunches or indulge in a relaxed, multi-course dinner. On those special summer Scottish days there’s a terrace which acts as quite the sun trap for al fresco eating too. Put simply, whatever you’re in the mood for, the Sugar Boat probably has something to hit the spot.
Interiors are modern and bright with large marble tables perfect for enjoying a meal at with a few friends or family, or booth seating offering comfortable climes for couples. There’s a more traditional dining space towards the back which affords views of the open kitchen and a relaxed cafe-cum-wine bar at the front which sprawls around the generously sized counter.
The informal menu bends and bows in line with the seasons, changing regularly to make use of best-of-British produce. Expect things like a shredded duck breakfast hash on weekends or dinner serves like braised pigs cheek, crisp head terrine, salt baked celeriac, mousseline potato with green sauce. Sides and bar snacks include proper triple cooked chips and heritage tomato salads as well as cauliflower cheese and griddled sourdough. At lunchtime there are soups and sandwiches as well as affordable set menus. The signature pudding is a warm chocolate mousse that we’d urge you to save room for - an utterly decadent end, served with praline and ice cream.
Drinks wise there are decent cocktails and a well put together wine list that you’re able to buy to take home with you too. As you might expect, service is in line with the overall feel of the place. Warm and welcoming, the Sugar Boat offers a comfortable place for good quality food and a reasonable price any day of the week. And it’s not just our opinion either, this charming bistro won AA’s best restaurant in Scotland in 2019 and holds a Bib Gourmand from Michelin too.