Restaurant review – Loch Fyne, Knowle

On Friday night we went out for dinner with my mother in law, for her birthday. She’s rather a fussy eater, so it’s rare we go to restaurants – usually opting for a nice pub meal instead – but somehow I persuaded my husband and he persuaded her that Loch Fyne would be a good choice, because fish is one of the (only) things she does like.

Having never been to a Loch Fyne before I was looking forward to something different. I know it’s technically a chain restaurant, but the prices are certainly higher than most chains, and it’s not very often you get lobster on a menu – chain or not (well, certainly not at the places I frequent!)

I always used to say I didn’t like seafood – fish and chips aside – but my tastes have definitely evolved as I’ve got older and I have to say that the mussels at my local Moroccan restaurant, cooked in chilli, is one of my favourite meals. So I was looking forward to eating at a seafood specific restaurant where they (you would hope) know their stuff.

The restaurant itself is lovely. Whitewashed walls, lots of wood – I’d describe it as high end rustic. The fish is on full view in refrigerated displays; a good sign of freshness and openness with nothing to hide. Similarly there is a wide window into the kitchen, which again inspires confidence. Lighting is subtle. The tables are ever so slightly too close for my liking, but commercially it obviously makes sense, as the restaurant was very busy.

Service was prompt and well delivered, even though the waiter had such an effected delivery it sounded like he was auditioning for local radio (small things, I know).

I ordered the starter of tempura prawns with chilli jam.

Loch Fyne tempura prawns

It was a good choice. The tempura batter was light and crispy, delicate and not overwhelming of the juicy prawns. The portion size was good, and the salad and chopped fresh chillies gave a nice texture contrast. The chilli jam was very spicy; not one for the mild of tongue, but for me it was perfect.

Husband and mother in law had scallops with haggis.

Loch Fyne haggis and scallops

Obviously I had to try some, purely in the interests of research. It was delicious. The haggis was tasty and flavoursome and the scallops were perfectly cooked.

So far so good.

Mother in law was delighted to see dressed crab and French fries on the specials menu, as it reminded her of her youth, and is also simple and unfussy food which suits her palate. For a fussy eater she certainly didn’t leave much!

Loch Fyne dressed crab

Husband went for the whole lobster. Having only ever eaten lobster tail before, his face when the waiter brought over the “tools” was a picture! But it was served in two halves, making it much easier to eat. Served simply with fries and mayonnaise, he declared it a resounding success – succulent and juicy.

Loch Fyne whole lobster

I had struggled to decide on a main course, purely because there were lots of things that appealed to me (not least the belly pork, but it seemed a bit daft to order meat in a fish restaurant), eventually settling on lobster spaghetti. Unfortunately I found it to be disappointing. The sauce, which showed so much promise on the menu, was pretty bland. There was none of the expected richness of brandy, or flavour of tarragon. It was just a rather ordinary cream sauce. There was not a lot of lobster meat, just the odd flake here and there. The dish was garnished with the empty lobster shell, seeming to indicate half a lobster’s worth of meat in the dish, but I’d doubt that, The pasta was well cooked, but that’s hardly a compliment at restaurant level! At £19.99 it totally under delivered.

Loch Fyne lobster spaghetti

Would I go back? Yes. The ambience was lovely and the food was most definitely fresh. There’s other stuff on the menu I’d like to try, and the starter was an absolute hit. Being a chain restaurant there are often mid week discounts to be had, making it more palatable on the wallet too! But I’d definitely avoid the lobster spaghetti.

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