Sometimes I can’t help but crave fish. Loch Fyne is a chain restaurant found all over UK, one of which I’m unfamiliar with as there only seems to be a few up north! Being my friend’s birthday and both craving seafood, I thought nothing more than to try the restaurant I’ve heard great things about.
Situated next door to Theatre Royal in Covent Garden, Loch Fyne couldn’t be more perfectly located. Offering many seafood (also meat and vegetarian) options and also a 2/3 course pre-theatre set menu. Unfortunately, we seemed to have caught the pre-theatre rush – 6.30pm on a Wednesday & we had to wait to be seated.
After waiting for 10 minutes at the bar, one of the bar staff finally asked us what we wanted to drink. We then waited another 10 minutes for the drink to be served only to find that the bar staff was rather busy and instead brought the bottle of unopened prosecco in front of us and told us to wait. Giving the staff the benefit of the doubt because of a busy evening, we were led to our table by the hostess and then waited another 15 minutes until our drink arrived at the table. I also asked for water for the table (spoiler – this never showed up).
After the terribly slow drink service we started looking at the menu, we chose the set menu which offered 3 courses for £11.95 – not bad considering most of the main courses on the menu are roughly around the £15 – £21 mark.
For the starter I chose pottered peppered mackerel which was served with char-grilled malted granary bread and a side salad. The mackerel seemed like it came straight from the fridge and was ice-cold. I personally didn’t think it needed to be that cold, however, once at room temperature the texture and taste of the mackerel looked a lot more appetising and had a light smoky flavour.
One minor complaint I had (which is probably because of the set menu) was there should have been a lot more bread. The amount of mackerel offered in the pot would be enough for at least 5 slices of bread. It just seemed such a waste.
My friend had Thai fishcakes for her starter, I didn’t taste her dish however the presentation of the dish could have looked more appealing.
For the main course I opted for the whole grilled plaice and chose seasonal mixed vegetables as my side order. I’m not sure if the chef was having a lazy day, but the menu said ‘with lemon, parsley and watercress’. I could not taste any lemon on the plaice and the dish needed more seasoning. I actually had to use my friends lemon from her Moules Marinières to season my fish. The watercress also seemed to be missing.
The mixed vegetables although crunchy and surprisingly tasty, was a tiny portion and I was left feeling peck-ish after my starter and main course.
(Note – I have a small to medium appetite)
My friend opted for Moules Marinières with a side order of triple cooked chips. Mussels were cooked well, and was served with a sauce that was on the creamier side. The dish however, wasn’t very warm when it arrived.
The chips were crunchy and seasoned well.
My dessert of choice, is almost always Crème Brûlée. It’s the dish to taste when deciding whether a restaurant is up to scratch as a Crème Brûlée is hard to get right. In this case it wasn’t. The sugar was caramalised too much leaving it burnt and black and ruined the entire dish and left my mouth feeling bitter for the next 15 minutes. Such a shame as I always look forward to a good Crème Brûlée.
I am almost in awe of how this made it in front of me as the dish is so obviously burnt. Maybe the chefs idea of a good Crème Brûlée is the taste of burnt sugar running all the way through it?
My friend ordered the chocolate ice cream, and came with a pleasant surprise, a lit candle. I only mentioned it in passing at the start of the meal that it was her birthday and it did add an extra touch to the meal. The chocolate ice cream was delicious with chunks of chocolate running through it, a little too sweet but if you love chocolate you won’t be disappointed.
Looking back at all three courses, it just seems as Loch Fyne have missed the mark on every dish. Each of the dishes had faults and some had mistakes that shouldn’t have been served to paying customers. I understand that we were on a budget menu however this should never impact on taste. A set menu should be a taster of the main menu and be enticing enough for you to visit again and order from the regular menu.
Throughout the evening I was glancing at other customers dishes and wondering why our dishes didn’t look and (I’m assuming ) taste more appealing. The service was weak and even towards the end of the evening the service was still slow. I haven’t entirely been put off Loch Fyne however I do question whether I should re-visit out of principle. I would rather have paid £20 for a decent 3 course set menu than pay £11.95 for a small, bland, unexciting 3 course meal.
– Loch Fyne, Covent Garden