With nearly 50 British restaurants Loch Fyne is rapidly becoming the McDonald’s of the seafood world. Few of Loch Fyne’s restaurants will have such a fine location as their Newhaven Harbour branch, previously occupied by Harry Ramsden’s. With a terrific outdoor seating area, which has great views across the Firth of Forth and the Forth rail and road bridges, Edinburgh’s Loch Fyne is guaranteed to be a Summer dining hot spot. The interior of Loch Fyne resembles a small aircraft hanger with its open plan layout. A bar sits at one end and a cafe with adjoining fresh seafood shop at the other affords a relaxed and comfortable feel. This was one evening’s seafood feast I was certainly looking forward to.
We visited Loch Fyne just before New Year and their three courses for ¬£20 Christmas menu was still available. It was immediately apparent Loch Fyne were suffering some serious staffing problems. Only three staff were covering dozens of tables. Through the course of our meal we observed other tables complaining of missing dishes and napkins. Such was the difficulty in summoning a member of staff many diners had to fetch their own condiments. Loch Fyne’s waiting staff seem to have perfected the art of scanning the whole of the dining room, while failing to make eye contact with a single person.
On a personal level my main course was finished before the glass of wine (which I’d ordered long before my meal was served) arrived. My cheese course was unceremoniously dumped on the table, without a word of introduction as to what I was about to eat. Following this our waitress ran to the cloakroom and out the door. This left an even larger void in the table service of Loch Fyne. The untidy man in charge proved to have the table waiting skills, I suspect, would struggle to hold down permanent employment at McDonald’s; it took a full thirty minutes, despite my best efforts, to attract enough attention to order my tea and tablet.
My festive three course menu was good value at ¬£20. I started off with a well prepared Moules Marinieres. My main of whole sea bass topped with fennel and served with potatoes and red cabbage was substantial. Both courses were very plain, but all competently done and fresh tasting. My dining partner’s main of Bradan Rost would win no awards for presentation and the intense flavour of the kiln-roasted salmon won’t be everyone’s idea of a main course. That said, it was still a good serving of quality salmon and a few mussels constituted the accompanying shellfish.
The Loch Fyne platters, with crab for ¬£34 or ¬£44 with lobster, were selling well. Memories of having such a feast on Lamma Island in Hong Kong and becoming increasingly frustrated at the effort needed to unearth edible fish puts me off ordering such dishes myself though!
When side orders at ¬£2 are added to main courses around the ¬£13 mark, the cost of a meal at Loch Fyne is hardly cheap; better value is provided by Loch Fyne’s fixed lunch and dinner menus. During January 2009 Loch Fyne are offering two courses and a glass of wine for ¬£12, from 12pm until 7pm. This is a great way to try Loch Fyne and make your own judgement.
The seafood at Loch Fyne will appeal to many through its simplicity and range of offerings. Complex and cutting edge it isn’t, but with mass market appeal and solid enough offerings Loch Fyne will never be short of customers. I just hope the service we observed in late December isn’t indicative of a normal night…
Loch Fyne is located at 25 Pier Place, Newhaven Harbour, Edinburgh, EH6 4LP
Telephone: 0131 559 3900