It looked good, Henderson’s Bistro. And it was conveniently placed for anyone already at the Albert Halls in Stirling for the Bloody Scotland book festival. The menu was OK (for me, not for my companion) and the tables and chairs looked nice enough.

But – and there has to be a but – they let themselves down. To me it wasn’t all that obvious I’d want lunch at 3.30 in the afternoon, and despite us saying we’d come for afternoon tea, we were told what the soup of the day was.

That’s once we’d actually sat down, and that took time. There were several free tables, but they needed to clear one for us, and I hope it’s because they felt it was a nicer table. Why did they need to clear it just then, when the place was already quiet? And why so slowly? Once we were seated we worried in case we were never going to see a menu.

The warm scone arrived well before the pot of tea. Very weak tea. Not terribly warm, either. And I was once more made to feel inferior for wanting milk with Earl Grey. The glass of water we asked for didn’t arrive until we reminded them. When a friend joined us, it took a long time for them to notice. Actually, they didn’t. They had to be hailed.

As for paying, that didn’t look like it would happen soon enough for me to get back to my event on time. Our server was gone, and the next waitress could find no evidence of what we’d had.

On the plus side, we sat comfortably for the free hour we had at our disposal, and it was good to meet up with a friend with no dashing all over town.


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