Monday, 2 May 2011

Lochleven Seafood Cafe

The anticipation of visiting the Best Scottish Seafood Restaurant 2011 was building up throughout the day. Its not everyday that we get so hyped up by a restaurant and when our research on restaurants around Ben Nevis eventually brought us to the Lochleven Seafood Cafe Website, we were truly salivating at the pictures of the wonderful platters that they serve.

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The journey to Fort Williams took approximately 2 and a 1/2 hours from Glasgow. In case you are wondering, we did not travel all the way up for this but having eaten here, we actually might.
Finding the place would be easy if you follow the signs and persevere on. Heading up north, once you have passed the Balluchullish Bridge on A82, look out for the Tourist information sign (brown in colour) and turn right onto B863. From there, it is another 4.4miles down the road. If you ever feel worried you are lost, dont.. because we felt the same as it seem like a never ending drive. I reassure you the cafe is there even though the picture seem to suggest just a barren pitch of grassland.

Loud cheers were heard all round the car when we eventually found it. True to their philosophy of letting the natural flavours of the seafood speak for itself, they have kept their establish simple and allowed the natural landscape to take centre stage. Nestled next to the shores of Lochleven with stunning views of the loch and landscape, this cafe was started five years ago as an addition to its sister Company, LochLeven Shellfish. In my opinion this is probably the best way of getting the freshest of seafood: from Loch to distribution centre and straight to your dinner plate.

It was 830pm when we arrived. I am glad C had the foresight to book the place as I heard it tends to fill up quite quickly. Seriously, you don't want to make a trip up and stare at the happy diners whilst you chomp on your fish and chips.

Enough said. Let's move on to food !!! < (: )))>< ~~~

Hot Roasted shellfish in Aioli for 2

The platters were their signature dishes and these come in hot and cold version. In addition to these, you could order specific seafood like langoustines, scallops, mussells and lobsters as an individual main dish. The menu also features an alternate menu for the non seafood lovers which gets refreshed every so often .

Stop hiding you Lobster

There were plenty of wows and oohhss not just from our table but from the neighbouring tables as well as everyone tried to take in the visual spectacle. Every formidable shellfish that Scotland had to offer was on this plate (haha I think*). I couldn't wait to "dive" in but me being the avid food photographer had to stall back my hungry eaters for your visual and reading pleasure.

Cold enough for 2

The Cold platter for 2 turned out to be equally amazing and overloaded. I am salivating again as I look at the pictures. (will need some excuse to go back again for the food)

Since it was 4 of us sharing 2 plates of 2 person platters, I got to try most of the seafood cooked in both ways except for a couple. The lobster was eaten cold and there was just something about the coldness that reminded me of the sea and automatically freshness. The meat was definitely succulent and it was as if the coldness had preserved in the umami taste.

The brown crabs were huge like HUGE!!!. Ok you can't compare them to Sri Lankan crabs but by the scottish standards, these were your big brothers. I had these served roasted. As expected, it lack the sweetness of its other species. I did not enjoy this as much as I hope but hey I've got plenty more seafood to eat.

The mussels and clams were sweet. After many rounds of cold mussels, cold clams, hot mussels and hot clams, I came to the conclusion that the cold clams tasted the best. That bread by the was yummy. It tasted like a banana bread and was extremely good when you soak it in the seafood juices from the hot platter.

Loving langoustines for once. These were huge, succulent and tasted as sweet as prawns. Be it hot or cold, they were absolutely fabulous.

I have forgotten to take pictures of the razor clams. Too hungry I guess.

The initial plan was to have 6 platters for 4 of us .. haha.. but we settled just for an additional plate of scallops with soy dressing.

Dinner ended at 1030pm.... and it was 1am by the time we got back.

Well.. You can always argue that most of the ingredients can be found in Glasgow, but when it comes to freshness, this place triumphs in all ways.
There you have it. One of the best places I have eaten in Scotland.

Lochleven Shellfish
Loch Leven,
Fort William, PH33 6SA
Phone: 0185 582 1444

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