Lio Balland is an interesting character, so is his Rhino cafe/restaurant in Aberfeldy. So, why you ask, the name of Rhino in the middle of Scotland?
That’s easy as the restaurant menu provides a description. Lio, it appears, had no self-esteem or confidence when he was a teenager.
He is dyslexic and was bullied at school. He became a chef aged 14 which allowed him to “hide” in the kitchen and at 21 he came to the UK, Wales in fact.
There, he was even more alone with no family or friends. He read a book about positive thinking. It is about not taking no for an answer and being strong from the outside “even if you are a jelly baby inside”.
He bought a rhino in a car boot sale and rhino’s for birthdays, Christmas and now he has over 1,000 of them. They look down at you in the cafe.
Lio – who came to Scotland for a visit and fell in love with the country – has 30 years’ experience in the catering industry and so we were confident about what would be served. My smoked salmon with prawn and avocado (£6.95) came with a bowl of chips. They were so good my partner “borrowed” some.
Her Panini was packed with filling and the tea and coffee – with marchmallow – was piping hot. Lio also serves beef bourguignon (plenty of red wine) plus a cake selection, afternoon tea and we noted that French crepes were popular with neighbouring diners.
Yes, it was a cold day and we did not tarry as it was cold in the restaurant and even colder in the toilet. A point, possibly, for Lio to bear in mind. Diners should feel comfortable and not be inclined to eat with coats on.
He was extremely helpful, however, with directions to our destination and his marchmallows are divine. We bought three packets to take home.
Lio also produces a children’s menu with chef’s soup or Heinz tomato, a toastie, macaroni and cheese plus ice cream and jelly or a pancake with jam. That should keen them happy.