What better way to refuel after a 9 mile walk than to pop into a seafood place on the shore? When we arrived, I was transported back to Atlanta, Georgia and I felt like I was walking into a Scottish version of The Atlanta Fish Market. And really, except for the more ornate nature of the place in Atl, Loch Fyne really was close. The open restaurant with the high ceilings and fish market and kitchen to one side and the open expanse of the glass walls and waterfront on the other makes it feel like you are in your own private glass porch, enjoying lunch with 90 of your closest friends.
After we were seated, we had a look at the menu and all chose to go with the lunch special of 2 courses. I opted for a bottle of sparkly water and ordered the special starter of the day, the smoked salmon with capers and dill to start, followed by the moules provencale.
Our starters arrived pretty quickly with a basket of fresh and soft white and brown breads, which was probably meant for the soup eaters, but was enjoyed by all of us. My salmon was soft and succulent. It was fresh and the capers, dill and lemon complimented the salty smoked essence nicely. It was a light and fresh starter and though the soup was pretty, I was not even remotely jealous.
It took a bit longer for our starters to arrive, but it was no problem as we were chatting and watching the weather change over the water. When our mussel and fish did arrive, they looked like good, mussels in a lovely and rich tomato provencale sauce. The mussels themselves were good. They were the standard size and nothing to particularly write home about, but the tomato sauce they were cooked in was lovely, but when I looked around for the lat bit of bread, I realised that the basket had been whisked away with the empty starter dishes, and I had previously noted that bread is priced separately on the menu (which is a keen strategy to make those who want to soak up the mussel sauce to have to buy more bread). It seemed odd to me that they would serve bread with the soup but not with the mussels.
Regardless, we struggled onwards, dipping our chips, fries and steamed veggies (yeah, I did) in. The steamed veggies were brightly and looked pleasing, but the broccoli was just that bit undercooked that it made it quite difficult to cut it in the bowl it was served in, and I may have shot a pea, unnoticed, across the table while trying.
Overall, I think that Loch Fyne was a pleasant enough place to have lunch. I was not overly wowed by any of the dishes I had, but it was a nice meal in a lovely location.
With my latest trip to Istanbul coming up on Saturday, it was a delightful way to start the wind-down week by walking a few miles around the town in the company of my favourite doctor, then pausing for lunch with the lovely Mel and Milo, who have previously quested with us at Porto & Fi and Locanda de Gusti.
Milo was just back from Portland where he’d been taking part in the World Domination Summit. You can read all about the fantastic time he had at his excellent website, Clear-Minded Creative.
Today’s chosen lunch venue was Loch Fyne, down at the harbour in Newhaven. A nationwide chain of seafood speciality places, Loch Fyne has a fishmonger on the premises, an open kitchen so you can watch the chefs prepare your meal, and a large open plan layout giving a sense of communal dining. They have a nice terrace that I dare say would be a lovely spot to sit out on, on a more temperate day.
As we entered the place, we were welcomed by a front of house greeter, who showed us to our table. The ghastly line she’d clearly been made to spout about “hoping we enjoyed our meal”, or whatever the exact wording was, was a truly cringeworthy moment.
Generally, the service we received was good, but there were other moments where this over-rehearsed nonsense really got in the way of good folks trying to go about their business. Consistency of quality across many outlets in a chain is fair enough, but this was unconvincing hogwash in dire need of a update.
But on with the show. We were given a suite of options, with a full a la carte, a set price lunch, and specials board to chose from. The set price lunch, offering two courses for £9.95 and three for £11.95 suited us all nicely, so we opted for that.
Actually, MJ went with the special starter of the day, which was a dish of smoked salmon and capers. But that was our only deviation. Mel opted for gurnard tempura, then moules provencale with chunky chips, MJ took the same moules route matching hers with seasonal vegetables, while Milo and I both started with the watercress and creme fraiche soup, the he followed with mackerel while I opted for the moules marinieres.
Starters arrived very quickly, and were accompanied by a nice bread basket. My soup wasn’t great. The overwhelming flavour was a sharp sourness. The delicate, peppery flavour of the watercress was lost, entirely.
The mussels to follow were much better. The dish is a classic and this was a standard rendering of it, with good plump mussels were prepared. I can’t help but think that a speciality seafood restaurant might be able to come up with something a little beyond the standard fare, but I suppose there are many worse things than keeping things simple and showcasing a quality ingredient.
So Loch Fyne was a bit of a mixed bag. Their service needs a rethink, as I wasn’t impressed with the patter, but the place was really quite smart. The food seemed rather hit and miss, and a touch uninspiring, too. If you’re a seafood lover, there are many more interesting spots to spend your hard-earned cash. The only reason I would return is for the prospect of a lazy afternoon spent on their deck in the sunshine, but I’m not confident that the Scottish summer will afford me this opportunity any time soon.
Blythe scores Loch Fyne
2/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for setting
2.5/5 for service
giving an overall 11/20
Miriam scores Loch Fyne
3/5 for food
2.5/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for setting
2.5/5 for service
giving an overall 11.5/20
Today’s questers were: MJ, Mel, Milo. Blythe
We ate: watercress soup (2), gurnard tempura, smoked salmon and capers, mussels (3), mackerel
We drank: red wine, diet coke, sparkly water, Old Speckled Hen, water, coffees
We wore: dark jeans, spectacles, yellow sweater, action underwear
Total bill: c.£70