Fine fish fayre is often limited to two or three traditional dishes which, while tempting, can feel a bit stale for a fish-loving feaster. There’s only so many fish pies, posh fish fingers and seafood platters you can take. Which is why it’s always good to visit a dedicated fish venue where the choice is extensive and dishes creative. So step forward Loch Fyne, a growing family of fish restaurants representing a pescetarian paradise.
The Loch Fyne brand has its roots firmly set in the lake (Loch!) from which it took its name, on the coast of west Scotland. The emphasis is on serving sumptuous dishes, sustainably sourced. Much of the fish served in the 41 restaurants which are spread across the country is fished from the loch and delivered fresh daily.
There are two Loch Fyne’s in London, and several more dotted around the outskirts. We visited the Beaconsfield venue, set in a stunning brick building in the Old Town, with a jaw-dropping interior. Spacious and well-lit, there’s a display of the days produce on a counter as you enter, and an open grill at the back of the restaurant where all the food is prepared. All of the branches are situated in similarly impressive buildings, just one of the criteria that sets them apart from other ‘chains’.
The plethora of seafood starters is enough to make any mouth water, and the new winter menu offers some new dishes sure to warm the cockles, and mussels, on a chilly night. While contemplating the menu our server brought us a basket of warm bread and offered us an aperitif of a Kir Royale or Whisky spritz. It’s the extra touches that make Loch Fyne a step above your average bar and grill.
But back to the starters! There are crispy sprats, and a lobster bisque, as well as haggis with seared Scottish scallops, and a vegetarian option of chargrilled aubergine rolls, stuffed with creamy goat’s curd. Our favourite though was the chilli and garlic prawn dish. Cooked to juicy perfection with a bit of a kick that was perfectly offset by a delicate lemon twist. It would, of course, be a travesty to miss out on the signature dish, so be sure to try the Loch Fyne oysters – so fresh you can taste the spring water that tumbles down the surrounding mountains into the lake every time you tuck into one!
The selection of main courses is just as varied and includes a poached smoke haddock – served on colcannon mash with a soft-poached egg, a shellfish platter served on ice with either lobster or a whole crab, and even a cod curry with king prawns and butternut squash. But our heads were turned by the daily special of pan fried sea bass with scallops on mash with a lemon butter sauce, and the startlingly fish-free Bubble and Squeak risotto. Both were presented beautifully, and tasted as good as they look. The risotto was just about the best I’ve ever tasted. Full of flavour and appropriately al dente, the crispy cabbage that topped it was the piece de resistance. A wholesome, hearty dish which could warm even the coldest winter bones!
For dessert there’s a selection of sorbets and ice creams as well as winter warmers such as sticky toffee pudding and mulled wine poached pear. And a freshly brewed coffee, Irish or otherwise, is the perfect ending to a very pleasing meal.
To book a table or find your nearest restaurant, see www.lochfyneseafoodandgrill.co.uk .