“ Scottish Seafood. 2 Park Road, Crouch End, London N8 8TD. tel = 020 8342 7740 „
Loch Fyne is a restaurant chain specialising in freshly prepared fish. My workmates had been going on about how good it was so I eventually thought I should visit my local one located in Oxford.
When I got there I was impressed by the layout and cleanliness of the venue. Also you could see the kitchens from the seating area which is always nice to see the chefs freshly preparing your food.
Once we got our menus, the selection of items available wasn't as huge as what I maybe thought it would be, There was also a specials board featuring another four items. The waiting staff were very helpful in making recommendations & suggestions which was nice.
I had never tried Oysters before so decided to go for some of these as a starter. They came out well presented with some sauces, they tasted pretty unique but nice in a small quantity, For mains, I decided to go for their rib eye steak, I know it's not fish but just fancied it. My mate who I went with went for a lobster. I tried some of hers & it tasted really nice & again was well presented.
I really enjoyed the Loch Fyne experience, the food was of good quality, prepared freshly on site & well rpesented. In addition, the staff were very helpful & the service was good. This comes at a price though with main meals on average setting you back around £15, but it's well worth it for a special occasion.
I was delighted to find in the centre of Leeds, City Square to be exact, a branch of this restaurant chain. Today I visited for the first time with two friends. It was around 2.30 pm and a weekday and the restaurant was fairly empty, except for one elderly gent on his own and a couple of businessmen at another table.
When we entered the waitress was on the phone but within a couple of minutes another waitress arrived to show us to our table.
The bar was in the centre of the restaurant and behind that was a large refrigerated counter where you can buy various kinds of fish to take home. It all looked very fresh and whetted our appetite for what was to come.
We had a choice of a two course menu costing ten pounds, or could choose from the vast menu or from the special boards on the walls.
Obviously most of the dishes were fish, but there were also steaks for anyone not wanting fish.
The choice was so good that it took us around 20 minutes to decide what to have. During that time the waitress had brought a basket of fresh crusty bread and pats of butter and we nibbled on that while making our choice.
We also asked for a jug of iced water and this was brought without delay. As we were all driving afterwards none of us had anything else to drink and the jug was refilled at regular intervals.
For a starter we could have selected kippers or mackerel pate or salmon, or langoustine, to name a few.
We decided instead fo opt for a seafood platter which the waitress assured would be adequate for 3 of us as a starter. She was right!!! There was more than enough!!
First of all the waitress arrived with finger bowls of hot water with a lemon slice, then the eating implements, complete with the crackers for the crab and a bowl for the empty shells.
Next she appeared with what looked like a lampshade frame and placed this in the middle of the table.
The seafood platter was available with crab at a cost of 29.95 or with lobster for an extra tenner. We chose the crab and when it arrived it was on a two tier serving dish which was placed on the "lampshade".
The fish was displayed very artistically, set on a bed of crushed ice. There was lots of crab, with the shell sat in the middle of the dish and the claws set around the edges. There were also prawns, langoustine, mussels, oysters and clams and one or two other shellfish varieties.
The whole lot tasted delicious and our bowls for the shells were soon fill as we tucked into the food.
As soon as we had finished our starter our plates were whisked away, together with the finger bowls and shell bowls etc, then the waitress reappeared to wipe down the table. Yes, we had made rather a mess!!!!!
I chose grilled haddock for my main course and my two friends chose grilled salmon. The haddock cost just under a tenner and the salmon was a tad more expensive.
The price was just for the main course, vegetables and potatoes, salad etc were extra, averaging around two to three pounds. We selected a dish of new potatoes and these were neatly sliced and dripping in butter, we also ordered a dish of vegetables and there was a good selection. We had only ordered one dish of each between the three of us and there was ample, but then again we had eaten rather a lot for starters. Perhaps if you did not have a starter you would want a dish each of the side dishes.
The meal was of excellent quality and good value for money. On reflection we decided that we could have just been satisfied with the seafood platter as there was adequate on there to serve as a main course in itself.
It was also impressive to read on the menu about how the fish is sourced and mention of caring for the environment was particularly pleasing to us.
There were desserts and coffees on the menu too, but we didn't have any of these - we were too full to have a dessert and the time on the parking meters was running out for us to linger over coffee.
I would certainly recommend this fish restaurant and will go again whenever I am in Leeds, or any other city where they have the Fyne chain.
The Leeds restaurant is situated right in City Square, a two minute walk from the train station, and is in the building where previously the city's post office was based.
I decried the fact that they had got rid of the PO, but it has been of some small compensation that this fine restaurant has now opened to give us a taste of Fyne fish!
It's very easy to go continually to the same restaurant. Once you find one that suits your taste and pocket, inertia has a lot to be said for it. However, once in a while, we do like to kicks over the traces and branch out. Last Saturday evening was one such occasion. Loch Fyne Restaurants are a national chain of eateries specialising in fish and other seafood. Actually, "national chain" might be too grand a description, since there are currently 22 branches with a heavy South-Of-The-Wash bias, these being - Bath, Beaconsfield, Brighton, Cairndow, Cambridge, Covent Garden, Crouch End, Egham, Elton, Fulham Road, Hadley Highstone, Henley-on-Thames, Knowle, Loughton, Nottingham, Norwich, Oxford, Reading, Sevenoaks, Twickenham, and Winchester. They are however expanding. With a parent company in Argyll, Scotland, dedicated to providing food from sustainable resources, it should be possible to eat your way through the menu with a clear conscience. I always have a slight suspicion that I'm helping eradicate the swordfish whenever I order a massive steak thereof at our local "Greek" in Ealing. The particular branch we graced with our presence was in Twickenham, West London. Having seen a few more from the outside, I guess that they have a corporate similarity in décor (primrose and blue), although the buildings differ widely. This one is a converted pub, which I've personally passed several times during my work in the Richmond area, making a mental note to visit when I'm not dressed like a cycle courier. The menu does cater very extensively for those that wish to sample the fruits of the oceans, and inland waterways. They even cater for those that want their dead flesh from grass-munching quadrupeds. For example, venison features both as a main course, and as a starter of smoked Rannoch venison slices on a rocket and Parmesan salad. (£4.95) Strangely enough, this is
exactly what I chose for a starter, as I felt that our finny friends could wait. My wife, Ruth, chose a half-portion of the house speciality, mussels as her starter. Starters are classed as light dishes, so you'd be quite justified in ordering a few, instead of a main course. The mussels are home grown by the company themselves, cultivated on ropes in Loch Fyne. As they arrived, we wondered whether the complete steamer was a sign that we had been mis-heard, and that a full portion had been ordered. For £4.95 it was exceptional, both in quantity and quality. Mussels can be ordered either in the familiar "marinière" style or steamed in chilli and coriander oil. That basket of wholemeal bread they left with us came in handy, I can tell you - the pan was nearly dry by the time we decided to give in and wait for our main courses! Main courses almost HAD to be fish, after all, what's the point of going there and saying "I'll have the steak please"? I'm no great fan of bony fish - sardines and pilchards (what is it about saying PILCHARDS that sounds like throwing up?) are about the limit of my osseous dexterity, and having had a bone wedged sideways in my throat, I'm in no hurry to repeat the ordeal. Big steaks from big fish are my thing, hence the swordfish. In the case of Loch Fyne and Co., I chose a seared tuna steak served on warm noodles with a soy and chilli dressing. At £12.95, it's not the cheapest bit of fish I've eaten, but it was about 10" across and delicious. If I'm honest, the soy sauce was a trifle overpowering for my liking, although in other situations, with Peking Duck for example, I love it. It just seemed a tad overdone here, that's all. Ruth had pan-fried Kintyre scallops, which I'm TOLD were delicious. That's the trouble with ordering something of which you only get half a dozen or so. You don't feel like letting someone el
se have a taste! Side orders of vegetables are extras - yes, you can ever order mashed spuds for £1.50, although others, like salad with walnut dressing set you back £2.50. There is a sensibly chosen wine list to suit most budgets ranging from the house white, a Macon Blanc at £9.95 right up to a classic Mersault Burgundy at £36.95 (spot the expense account end of the wine list!). Choice at the lower £12-14 end was quite generous even so. If I have one or two gripes about the place, it's mainly the value for money that sticks in my craw (note the crabby references). I don't normally expect to pay £60-odd pounds for a bistro stripped-pine atmosphere with the neighbouring table's precocious little "darling" banging into my chair every few seconds. It's not that people with children shouldn't go out (OK, it is really), but a bit more floor pace wouldn't have gone amiss, to keep us all at arm's length. This does of course indicate that the place isn't really "candle-lit dinner for two" material. They have tables for two but the place is a bit boisterous for a romantic assignation. Of course, it was Saturday night, and we were asked if we could be "out by 9", which wasn't a problem for us as we were "in by 7" Anyway, the noisy parties all seemed to be enjoying themselves, as did we in our own way. Luckily for us that it wasn't our Wedding Anniversary or some other mill-....errr mile-stone. I didn't notice any children's portions on the menu, so presumably a lot of the younger ones had starter portions for their main meal. It's either that or the good people of Twickenham are a damned sight better heeled than I am, which is also probably true. Strangely enough, the one item we felt was a tad overpriced for what it was, was the Crème Caramel at £4 - this being the standard dessert price. Maybe the others, like Sticky Toffee Pudding were b
etter value, but we both had the same, so we'll never know! If you want to break a "halibut*" of always going to the same "plaice", flex your gastronomic "mussels" and go to a Loch Fyne. Just be prepared to pay 35 "squid" each for a full meal. On reflection, had we known how large the first course was, we'd have re-thought our strategy, possibly by ordering starters or light dishes as they call them. *Halibut was one of the dearest dishes on the menu at £16.95, although we're not talking "wrapped in paper to take away" here. This one comes char-grilled with a basil pesto dressing. On our way out, I spotted a colleague and her husband. This lead to the inevitable note comparing. They had both ordered the sea-bass and been disappointed to find that it was a whole small one, bones and all, which was not what our combined memories of the Canary Islands had lead us to expect. It just goes to show - if you're not sure, ASK!