“ The Clachan Inn / Drymen Square, Drymen, G63 0BL. „
Whilst staying in Loch Lomond at Green Shadows Bed and Breakfast, it was recommended to us by the owners of the B&B that we try the Clachan Inn for food whilst in the area, as it was the only local restaurant that served food worth talking about, so true to form, my partner and I followed the advice we were given and proceeded to check out this local eatery on our first night staying next to the village of Drymen.
***About the Clachan***
The Clachan Inn is in fact the oldest registered licensed pub in Scotland first established way back in 1734. According to the website the translation of the word Clachan literally means a building of stone, which in 1734 was pretty special as most other buildings were actually made of Turf - I'm sure if I were to delve deeper into the history of the place it would probably be pretty fascinating stuff but I'm more interested in telling you about the Clachan as it is today.
Although we ventured into the Clachan for food, it also offers accommodation at a very reasonable price of £28 per person per night so slightly cheaper than our bed and breakfast of choice which was £35 per person per night, but as we did not stay there I can't really comment on the accommodation side of things other than to say the Clachan offers 4 rooms to guests, 2 singles, 1 twin and 1 double and I can imagine would probably be an excellent choice for west highland way walkers, located right in the centre of Drymen which as indicated in my previous review is the first stop on the west highland way route.
The Clachan Inn prides itself on offering true Scottish hospitality throughout the bar, restaurant and accommodation, boasting a welcoming atmosphere for walkers and visitors and locals alike. It's hard to believe that the building we were entering for food was so old and judging by the large amount of people already seated inside this small pub / restaurant it was obviously a very popular choice for eating in the area.
***Entering the Clachan***
When we entered the building of the clachan through the main front door, we found ourselves in a small foyer with a door to the left of us and a door to the right of us. Into the left was the bar itself and into the right was the lounge / restaurant area, so we proceeded to the right to enquire about a table for the evening. It was ten past 6 on a Saturday evening and business it seemed was booming as we were told there was a rather long waiting list for tables and we would not be able to be seatedPictures of The Clachan Inn, Drymen
The front of the Clachan until 7:30pm. More than an hour to wait for food almost seemed a little silly to me, especially as we were both really hungry, but there was a special feel to the Clachan when we entered. A warm friendly atmosphere indeed, the staff were very obviously local with their broad Scottish accents and cheerfully invited us to go through to the bar to indulge in a few drinks while we waited for our table. We didn't head through to the bar but instead headed along the road on the route we would be taking the following day to get to the start of our walk for Ben Lomond just to get a feel for the road and see how far we had to travel the next day and promptly returned to the Clachan for 7:30pm to find a comfortable corner table ready and waiting for us.
Basically the Clachan Inn accepts guests on a first come first serve basis so if you're not fast you're last in a manner of speaking and unlike most restaurants they don't accept bookings so it really is, if we have a table you can have it and if we don't you'll have to pop your name on a list and wait. I found this a pretty fair way to do things given the size of the Clachan as it was not a huge restaurant and people really didn't seem to mind waiting for a table, and it was always busy which is a good sign straight away.
Looking over the menu at the Clachan I found they had a good selection of food without going over the top with choices.
Our options for starters which we had decided we were definitely having were; homemade soup of the day with a crusty roll which on that particular evening turned out to be parsnip which I immediately decided against, deep fried potato skins with Dip (I try to stay away from anything deep fried), another no from me, tempura prawns in garlic butter - now we 're talking (you're probably thinking I'm a hypocrite cause I said I try to stay away from deep fried foods but there are some things I just can't resist), Chefs homemade liver pate with toast (Yum), Crispy breaded mushrooms with garlic mayonnaise (another good option for me), warm border haggis and oatcakes (nice to see some traditional Scottish options on the menu), and deep fried camembert with fruit jus (again deep fried just doesn't appeal to me). Of the starters I decided to go for the Tempura prawns in Garlic butter, and my partner went for the Chefs homemade liver pate.
About 5 minutes after ordering our food our starters arrived at the table and I have to say the prawns smelt delicious. The prawns had been cooked in a light batter which was quite buttery to the taste and gave the prawn a little extra something and they certainly didn't look as though they had been pre-cooked and served a couple of hours later, the batter was fresh and crispy and I got the impression that they had been freshly prepared to order. Combined with the garlic butter, the prawns were mouth-wateringly tasty and very more-ish, and my partner agreed, almost regretting his choice of the Pate but not quite. The pate was smooth and delicate and tasted just how a liver pate should and there was a generous portion of toast to go with it which is rather uncommon for Pate in our experience. Both starters were thoroughly enjoyed and we were looking forward to our main courses. We didn't have long to wait after the starter plates were cleared before our mains were delivered to us and of course the waitress was thoughtful enough to ask if we enjoyed our first course and if she could get us any more drinks.
***The Main Event***
Again, there was a good selection of main courses to choose from including a few traditional pub grub dishes for example; Jumbo sausage with beans and chips, chicken Goujons with a chilli relish dip, battered chicken burger, traditional beef burger, Fish and chips and scampi. There were some salad and vegetarian dishes to choose from including; prawn Marie rose salad, Asparagus and Gruyere pastry, Spinach and mushroom Filo Parcel and of course the traditional steak menu with a range of steaks to choose from.
After pondering the menu for a few minutes I decided to go for the Spinach and Mushroom Filo Parcel, and my partner chose the chicken goujons, and as indicated previously we did not have long to wait after our starters before our mains were on our table. I have to say that as much as I enjoyed my starter, when my main arrived it didn't look nearly as appealing. The pastry looked deep fried and overdone and was sitting in what looked like a tomato puree sauce and I immediately didn't feel as though I was going to enjoy what I was about to eat. Surprisingly, even though the spinach and mushroom pastry filling was in a creamy sauce, it went quite well with the tomato sauce it was sitting in but my initial impression was pretty accurate, and the pastry was quite oily tasting - definitely deep fried, and was a little overdone for my taste, so not as successful as my starter, but not that it was disgusting or anything, just not to my taste really. My partner however, once again really enjoyed his food, the chicken was tender and succulent and the breadcrumb coating was done to perfection, and the sweet chilli relish just finished it off nicely. Both main courses were served with chips and salad and the plates were full offering good value for money.
We opted not to have desserts at the Clachan and our total meal including drinks cost us around £30 which I found to be very reasonably priced for the amount of food we had eaten, and we were so impressed with the friendly service that we left a tip on the table.
As we had found our first meal at the Clachan quite enjoyable we decided to go there again on our second evening in Drymen. What a contrast Sunday evening was to Saturday evening. It wasn't the same hustle and bustle as the previous evening, there were a few tables already filled but we were seated immediately upon arrival, choosing to arrive a little before 6 on our second evening, which allowed us to actually take in the decor of the place. The floor was decorated in a traditional tartan and the upholstery on the bench chairs were a regal red velvety fabric with mahogany tables and chairs. Each table had a centrepiece vase of fresh flowers and the atmosphere was very cosy and relaxed. We soon saw the place begin to fill up once again and all of the tables were filled within half an hour. This really did seem like a really popular place, and the same friendly faces that had served us the previous evening once again waited on us during our second visit.
I started off my meal with a bowl of Broccoli and Stilton soup which was delicious. The balance of Broccoli and stilton was perfect and it required no further seasoning, and the portion for a starter was just right. My partner having enjoyed the taste of my tempura prawns the previous evening chose this for his starter and boasted that they were just as delicious as they had been the night before. It was another successful starter.
I opted to have the prawn Marie Rose salad for my main course on this second evening and even indulged in a glass of dry white wine. I had a generous helping of prawns in a Marie rose sauce and my salad included a slice of melon, apple grapes kiwi and some salad leaves all of which went really well together and I thoroughly enjoyed my main course on the second evening. My partner, having a soft spot for fillet steak chose to go for the Clannachan Fillet served with border haggis and whisky cream sauce which he also thoroughly enjoyed. The fillet was Aberdeen Angus and was served medium rare as per my partners request and came with seasonal vegetables which included broccoli carrots and cauliflower, some onion rings, homemade chips and mushrooms. Everything was cooked perfectly and there were no complaints from either of us.
On our second visit we even ventured a look at the dessert menu although I chose not to indulge in dessert my partner selected one of his favourites from the menu which was sticky toffee pudding which I had a small taste of and once again it was very tasty without being too sickly although I'm not sure I would have managed to eat a whole one. Our bill for the second evening was £40 for a three course and a two course meal along with a couple of glasses of wine - so I would stick to my original statement that the Clachan offers very good value for money
***My Final opinion***
The Clachan was an excellent choice for us in terms of food, location, comfort and hospitality. It was a short 5 minute drive from our bed and breakfast accommodation and had a great menu to choose from. Nothing too fancy, but enough to make the dining experience a little bit special, I was glad our hosts had recommended the Clachan to us. The decor I would say was rustic but modern and the atmosphere was very warm and cosy. We couldn't fault the service as our waitresses were very attentive and made sure we had everything we needed. Although I wouldn't necessarily say the food was top class as there were a couple of things I wasn't entirely happy with, it was still a very enjoyable dining experience where the food for the most part was very tasty.
If you're every in Loch Lomond in the Drymen area then I definitely would recommend the Clachan for an evening meal. They also do a lunch menu which we didn't sample while we were there but I'm sure would have been just as enjoyable if we had. Dinner at the Clachan was a great way to end our stay in Loch Lomond.