The Buffet Shop, Colquhoun Square, Helensburgh - exterior
Soup
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 WHERE TO FIND GOOD SOUP IN HELENSBURGH
HUMBLES CAFE BAR, COLQUHOUN SQUARE
Humbles is a modern corner place in Helensburgh where good food and good service is the order of the day. Usually one soup, like 'Lentil and Bacon'. It's very popular with locals, and outside seating offers slurpers the opportunity to fill their lungs with cigarette smoke (how on earth did such a habit ever take hold? I mean, just think about it for a moment... you set light to some dried vegetation, deliberately breathe in the burning smoke, and then give the satisfied sigh of a man who believes he is relaxed while inside his chest the alveoli in his lungs are holding a meeting to plan an escape... it's surely crazy?). Personally, I think it a tad unfair on people who do not partake of the evil weed and just like sitting outside in the sun without having smoke drifting past their nostrils on a regular basis. Anyway, if you're sitting inside, it's a great cafe.
THE BUFFET SHOP, 30 COLQUHOUN SQUARE
A gastronomic palace of magnificence. The Buffet Shop is another of those truly wonderful delicatessens whose shelves are packed with all manner of intriguing edibles. There are great smells, an outside courtyard, and usually two soups each day, like 'Potato and Leek'. It feels a bit tardisish, as in Doctor Who's time-travelling police-box. Because the external facade seems fairly small and humble. And yet as soon as you open the door and wander inside you find the whole thing opens up into this culinary emporium that seems much bigger than the building in which it is housed. [Check out their website at www.thebuffetshop.co.uk]
CRAIGARD, 51 SINCLAIR STREET
A very fine establishment where good food and drink may be had. You can also get a map of Helensburgh here to allow you to find your way around. Craigard's interior bristles with intriguing bits and bobs. You can, for example, get tucked into homemade goodies like chutneys, served with Stornoway black pudding, or buy gifts like 'Whiskey and Lime Cold-Pressed Soap'. They have an excellent range of soups, all made using fresh Scottish produce. The range includes such temptations as 'Vegan Vegetable', 'Green Pea and Ham', 'Spicy Lentil with a Side of Ribs' (Wowee!), 'Cullen Skink' and 'Haggis Broth'. This is good stuff, guys and guyesses, so good that I felt inspired to pen a verse. Are you ready...

The soup at Craigard will stick tae yer ribs
Ye'll slurp it an' sloosh it an' may wear bibs
In fact, it's sae great ye'll ask fur a trough
O' the Best in the Land: the Haggis Broth

You know, there are times when one could be forgiven for forgetting that John Logie Baird - the man who invented TV - was born in Helensburgh. Well, Craigard's might well put that right, for they are planning to have bronze busts of the man made and available for sale exclusively in the tearoom.
[Check out Craigard's website at www.craigard-tearoom.co.uk]
ONE THING I SHOULD PERHAPS SAY ABOUT HELENSBURGH IS THAT THE TOWN HAS A VERY GOOD VARIETY OF SHOPS, AND THANKFULLY NOT A SHOPPING CENTRE IN SIGHT. SEE... IT CAN BE DONE!
HERE ARE A FEW EXAMPLES OF THE MANY FINE SHOPS:

CALLAGHAN OF HELENSBURGH, 33-35 SINCLAIR STREET - A WONDERFUL BUTCHER'S OF THE TYPE THAT YOU DON'T SEE AS MUCH OF THESE DAYS. THEY MAKE THEIR OWN AWARD-WINNING HAGGIS AND STOCK CHARLES McLEOD'S STORNOWAY BLACK PUDDING.

CLYDE WHISKIES, 86 WEST CLYDE STREET - A TREMENDOUS SMALL SHOP ON THE PROMENADE STOCKING WHISKIES AND SCOTTISH ALES.

ROWAN GALLERY, 78 WEST CLYDE STREET - THIS MAY LOOK LIKE A REGULAR SHOP THAT SELLS ARTY STUFF IN FRAMES, BUT IT IS, IN MY OPINION, UNUSUAL IN THAT THEY OFTEN HAVE EXHIBITIONS WHERE YOU CAN BUY PAINTINGS, AND UNLIKE MANY OTHER GALLERIES, THE WORKS OF ART THAT YOU CAN BUY ARE SERIOUSLY GOOD.
RATING
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Cafe section of The Buffet Shop, 30 Colquhoun Square, Helensburgh
Interior of Humbles Cafe Bar in Colquhoun Square, Helensburgh
Craigard, 51 Sinclair Street, Helensburgh - exterior
Interior of Craigard, 51 Sinclair Street, Helensburgh
Callaghan of Helensbugh, Sinclair Street, Helensburgh
Clyde Whiskies, 86 West Clyde Street, Helensburgh
Rowan Gallery, 78 West Clyde Street, Helensburgh - window display in September 2011