For a chain restaurant, Loch Fyne do what they do very well. Simple, tasty seafood dishes made with the freshest ingredients. We have been coming here for years and usually eat from their fixed price menu or their brunch menu (their full Scottish breakfast with a bloody mary is great to soothe a hangover). Today we came armed with a 40% of the a la carte voucher (thanks Vouchercloud) so we had the full breadth of the menu to choose from.
For starters, we decided to order 6 oysters: 1 plain, 1 with horseradish and beetroot, 2 with tequila and lime and 2 tempura.
For all of her good qualities, Emily has just one fault – she doesn’t like mustard (I know, right!?!) This hasn’t yet become a relationship show-stopper but it does mean that she will never know how good the horseradish and beetroot oyster was. It was a great flavour combination, with the beetroot flavour pushing through the strong heat of the mustard, but amazingly it didn’t completely overpower the salty oyster flavour.
After this, the other oysters struggled to compete, the tequila and lime option was presented with a wedge of lime and pipette of tequila, which our waitress informed us could be squirted over the oyster or if we preferred directly into our mouths. My tequila palate was destroyed during my younger reckless years so it’s one spirit I tend to avoid, and this didn’t really endear me to it any further. I felt that the only thing I could taste was tequila, so a waste of an oyster as far as I was concerned. Emily, however really enjoyed hers.
I am normally wary of tempura, after finding it can mean anything from very delicately battered to inedible deep fried rocks in the past, but these oysters were just right. They were very lightly fried, and were served with a slice of red chilli and the most amazing soy/balsamic reduction I’ve probably ever had. Everything just worked really well together – the heat of the chilli, the crunch of the tempura batter, the taste of the soy and none of it at the expense of the oyster, which you could still taste through everything. And if you’re squeamish about traditionally served raw oysters, I promise you will actually like these!
For our main courses, I ordered the fillet of cod, which came with a choice of sauce and two sides.
I, being a dimwit, didn’t read this on the menu so was forced to choose a sauce on the spur of the moment when ordering so opted for the smoky paprika butter, which Emily helpfully reminded me that I wouldn’t like as soon as the waitress had left – I didn’t mind it though. For my two sides I chose the fries and garlic samphire. My cod fillet itself was amazingly well-cooked – it flaked apart without provocation and had a well-seasoned, crispy skin (much like myself). the fries were just how I like them – skinny and crispy and the samphire, was gorgeous – although very garlicky. You may not want to order this on a first date but I loved it. Altogether a really lovely dish.
Emily ordered the roasted cod malabar curry.
Prawn, cod, butternut squash and spinach came together in a wonderful, fragrant and spicy curry with jasmine rice on the side. Proclaiming she was just in the mood for a curry, Emily gobbled it down with glee. The fish flaked apart nicely, the prawns were abundant and cooked well while the veg added a welcome sweetness. The flavours were well-balanced and the texture perfect, resulting in a very moreish dish. A little too much rice for the amount of sauce and a small naan would’ve been appreciated, but no biggie.
As I may have mentioned before I am a bit of a novice when it comes to desserts but Emily is a pro, and always informs me that in restaurants you should order a desert that you couldn’t prepare yourself at home. I’m not exactly sure what she means, but I nod approvingly while she orders the the creme brulee for us to share.
It came cold with a perfectly scorched lid which cracked satisfyingly upon impact. The set custard was creamy and smooth and had a lovely vanilla flavour. Combined with the two Scottish shortbread biscuits it tasted amazing.
I’m not sure how they manage it (when so many other chain restaurants can’t) but Loch Fyne consistently turn out good quality food. It may cost a few quid more than some other chains but in our opinion it’s well worth it – it also beat George’s fish and chip kitchen hands down for a similar price point. We have always received good service there and the only time we have come away disappointed is when they have been fully booked.
So, grab yourself a voucher and get down there. And make sure you order the beetroot and horseradish oyster. You can thank me later. (Emily: NOOO DON’T DO IT! Tequila oysters all the way!)
Overall score: (Loch) 9
Atmosphere and surroundings: 7
Emily and Stuart