Hot summer days always make me think of missions accomplished on the continent.
The light, the shade, the good guys and the bad ones. And the satisfaction of cases cracked.
“Your eyebrow has just raised itself,” remarked Toots across the kitchen table as she painted scarlet gloss on her fingernails.
“Which one, my dear?”
“The one that suggests you’re up to something. You’re thinking of old cases and making new ideas.”
“Indeed, I am my fine Toots. Indeed I am.”
An hour later, the Buick was whizzing by en route to a fine port of call on the Clyde: the Café Continental in Gourock.
“Lovin’ it, Tec. Lovin’ it!”
The Café Continental is an institution, attracting Glaswegians to this riverside venue since 1899.
We were greeted warmly and propelled us towards a table with a view, a grand view looking over the Firth of Clyde and its flotilla of yachts, cruisers and ferries.
Today’s soup of the day was carrot and coriander, a personal favourite of the Moll. I knew she’d choose it if she can tear her eyes away from gazing out at the water.
She sensed my inflating humph.
“Here, you! Just because I’m not gazing at you, there’s no need to take offence!”
Our kind waiter coughed, barely stifling a grin.
“What’s the soup?” she inquired.
Duly ordered, I tacked on breaded lemon sole goujons with a mango, lime and coriander mayo.
“What do you fancy for mains, Tec?”
“I’m going for the risotto,” said Toots.
I selected the linguini and suggested a rather tasty-looking sauvignon blanc.
There’s a mixed clientele at the Café Continental and an attentive, friendly service from the staff.
Of course the picture windows help set the scene, but there’s comfort and joy at every table as you look beyond the bar area towards the famed Kempock Street.
“Didn’t we have a lovely pineapple chutney here in the past?” asked Toots.
“Indeed we did, and you enthused so much about it, they gave you some as a gift to take home.”
“Oh, I remember that! They’re lovely here!”
The soup, as advertised earlier, arrived in all its glory.
“Oh, it tastes fab!” announced my mega moll.
I was very impressed by the moist lemon sole goujons. The flesh was just perfect with a finely crisped batter. The mango, lime and coriander mayo just lifted it incredibly so.
Our table fell silent as we focused on eating, enjoying and occasionally smiling at each other.
“All is well?” inquired mine host. He would have no cause for concern. I haven’t been here in a while, but all was indeed well. It was good to be back.
Toots’ risotto featured king prawn, peas and red peppers with a Parma crisp.
One word summed it up: “Oh!”
She made to say more, but I was able to persuade her to enjoy the ambience and the plate before her.
“Mmmm,” she sounded. Her bri-nylon lashes fluttered like a budgie’s wings. She was clearly happy.
My mother brought me up properly and still encourages me to eat and enjoy my greens, so I welcomed my smoked haddock and asparagus linguine with its white wine and cream sauce.
The lingering fragrance, the melding of tastes, my day was made.
We toasted the Café Continental and the River Clyde, the wonderful Clyde.
“Is that what thrills you and fills you with pride?” inquired Toots.
“Always. A home from home with sharp staff and great food.”
40 Kempock Street
01475 638 693
House Sauvignon Blanc £17.45
Soup of the Day £3.95
Lemon Sole goujons £6.50
King Prawn risotto £10.95
Haddock linguine £10.95
Total bill: £49.80
This article appeared in The Evening Times on 2 August 2018.