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Fyne Dining and a Free Facial
Loch Fyne Restaurants in general
Member Name: Picasso
Loch Fyne Restaurants in general
Date: 20/08/07, updated on 04/01/10 (316 review reads)
Advantages: Excellent quality fish and more
Disadvantages: None unless you don't eat fish
My first visit to a Loch Fyne restaurant was in November 2005. After a very disappointing meal at Le Manoir in Oxford, we decided on Loch Fyne in the Jerico area of the city the night after. The contrast to the stuffy atmosphere and overpriced meal the night before was poles apart. At Loch Fyne, we found the atmosphere buzzing, the waiting staff efficient and very friendly and the food exceptionally fresh, delicious and very reasonably priced. It was only on a weekend visit to Harrogate the following March that I realised that Loch Fyne was a chain. Cries of "Oh God, there's a Loch Fyne here too", we immediately booked a table and once again enjoyed a superb meal and a very pleasant evening. Since then I've eaten at their restaurants in Leeds and Covent Garden.
I was thrilled to learn that they had decided to open a restaurant in Stockton Heath, a leafy area of Warrington and only a forty-minute drive from where I live. It was only whilst devouring a meal there on my third visit that I realised that I just had to write a review about Loch Fyne in general.
The people behind Loch Fyne restaurants have the good sense to keep preparations simple and let their seafood take centre stage. On every visit, everything that hubby and myself have ordered has tasted exceptionally fresh as though it has come straight out of the sea and on to our plates. The entire menu is featured on an A4 sized card with additional specials on a small blackboard. I had printed the menu off their website and so I knew exactly what I wanted when I got there. There is a choice of around a dozen starters and main courses.
A favourite of mine are the mussels which as a starter cost £5.95 and as a main £9.95. You can choose between Marinieres or Thai spiced which have a hint of coconut. The mussels are served in a massive hot pot which when the lid has been removed and the steam released, provide a wonderful facial. (Beware ladies and some gents, your make up might smudge!) On my last visit I had the Braden Rost for my main course, which is kiln roasted salmon char-grilled with whisky and mushroom sauce. The fish was tender and melted in the mouth. On a cold evening, the fish stew with chorizo and olives is a very warming and nourishing choice. Main courses average at around £12. Side orders costs between £2.45 and £3.45. If you want a pudding, the waiting staff will advise you of the four or five on offer, favourites include summer pudding and brulee. Just to reiterate, the emphasis is on the savoury palate here especially for fish aficionados and those with a sweet tooth might be disappointed that there isn't more choice.
From the restaurants I have visited, I have found the interiors, which are decorated, in plain wood and cream easy on the eye. The simple painted furniture and marine themed pictures add to the laid back atmosphere.
What I particularly like about this chain is that it supplies all its own seafood through a sister company, Loch Fyne Oysters in Cairndow, using seafood sourced from producers along Scotland's West Coast. It prides itself on being eco- friendly. Partnering with the Marine Conservation Society to ensure that overfished species stay off the menu and uses fish like ling and gurnard, which are plentiful. It also takes steps to make sure that its seafood is eco-friendly, eschewing deep-sea trawlers for sustainable fishing and farming methods.
Something else to add to its credit is that Loch Fyne will sell you any of their produce. This is excellent when fishmongers are in decline and especially when I'm looking for something a little different.
The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and I have never felt rushed even on a busy Saturday evening. We tend to book a table for around 8pm and the table is ours for the night. I hate it when booking a table to be informed "we will need your table for 9.30" or similar.
All in all, the excellent quality of the food, the friendly atmosphere and its resolutely ethical stance is probably why the restaurant chain is growing quickly. There are over 30 restaurants around Britain with more in the pipeline. Fyne dining at a fine price!
N.B Loch Fyne specialises in fish and seafood. There is one vegetarian option and one steak dish. Basically, if you don't like fish, it isn't for you.
To find out if there's a Loch Fyne restaurant near you or for a copy of the menu, visit www.lochfyne.com
Since wriring this review, a further restaurant has opened in Didsbury Manchester which fortunately is nearer for me. It has opened on Christmas Day for the last 2 years and at a price of £50 per person for three courses, coffee and a glass of champagne on arrival, this has proved excellent value.
Summary: High quality fish restaurants