Sugar Boat, a bistro, bar and wine shop, will open tomorrow (Friday 19th May) at 30 Colquhoun Square in Helensburgh. The new venue is the brainchild of Will Smith – the restaurateur whose innovative formula of providing relaxed, unfussy and affordable high-quality dining led to the London restaurants he founded; Wild Honey in Mayfair and Soho’s Arbutus; each gaining a Michelin star and receiving an enviable string of accolades from leading food critics, including Jay Rayner, the late A.A. Gill and Giles Coren.
Having sold his restaurant interests in London last year, Will Smith’s latest project sees him return to Helensburgh, having previously lived in the town when he managed The Georgian Room at Cameron House in the mid 90s.
Will professes to having a deep affection for the area – in particular the scenery of Loch Lomond and the Clyde Coast – as does his wife Lynn, who works as a teacher in Glasgow and who originally hails from Dumbarton.
Will told us: “Opening any new restaurant presents exactly the same level of challenges, irrespective of whether it’s located in the middle of Mayfair or in the heart of Helensburgh. The effort, time and dedication that has gone into the planning and execution of opening Sugar Boat is no different to any other restaurant that I have owned. It’s an exciting opportunity and I hope that the local community will enjoy the end result.”
The bistro now has a new kitchen and the interior combines bare brick, brass finishes, wood-panelled walls and comfortable leather banquettes. Sugar Boat also offers seating on the square and a courtyard terrace.
The menus at Sugar Boat reflect the commitment of both Will and his Head Chef, Alexandria-born Scott Smith; who formerly worked in the kitchens of Wild Honey and Arbutus, Glasgow’s Cail Bruich and Bryn Williams’ Primrose Hill restaurant, Odette’s; to only use the finest, seasonal local ingredients, with the promise of their food menus changing regularly to ensure that the freshest produce from Scotland’s natural larder makes its way to diners’ plates.
To complement the food, the bar will offer a wide choice of drinks: a selection of draught beers from Glasgow brewer West and Stirling’s Fallen Brewery, alongside bottled craft beers; wines by the glass, bottle and carafe; fine spirits and malts; over 25 Scottish gins; and a creative list of cocktails. In the wine shop at Sugar Boat a stock of over 100 Old and New World wines – from the accessible to the indulgent – awaits to tempt the palates of customers.
Sugar Boat will be open from 9 o’clock each morning through until late at night: serving morning coffees, light weekend brunches, afternoon cream teas and inspired, seasonal à la carte bistro menus which showcase the best local produce.
FUN FACT: The name Sugar Boat entered the vocabulary of Helensburgh residents and those along the Firth of Clyde following a fateful night in January 1974 when the MV Captayannis – a 121 metres long ship laden with a cargo of sugar – succumbed to the ravages of a winter storm, its hull holed by a nearby tanker’s anchor chain and rapidly heeled over on a sandbank whilst the captain and crew were safely rescued and taken ashore. Affectionately known by locals as the “Sugar Boat” – with no one ever having stepped forward to move the hulk – the MV Captayannis remains clearly visible from the shore and is home to cormorants and sea life these days.