Loch Lomond Arms Hotel
We basked in unusually glorious weather for most of the month of May, however it won’t be a surprise if it’s absolutely howling as you’re reading this – it is Scotland; green, lush and more moist than a Nigella Lawson sponge. On the day I posted this the tarmac was melting.
We’re heading up the A82 to Luss.
David Hetherington, the chef with many tattoos and almost as many awards; this year he collected Provenance Chef of the Year on top of leading his brigade to Runner Up position in the best Hotel Restaurant category, is an ambitious and imaginative culinary artist as well as being a family guy. I see David’s almost daily posts on Facebook where he regularly highlights the peachy local produce available to him. David’s personal and revealing answers to my little questionnaire will be on the blog soon.
Less than one hour’s drive from the southside of Glasgow to the hotel car park, I’ve been stuck on the M8 during rush hour for longer with a car full of whining weans demanding to know “are we there yet?” On this sun kissed summer’s evening the journey was part of the joy.
Luss was the location of “Take The High Road” apparently a favourite of the late Queen Mother after a trip to Agnew’s in Main Street, Glendarroch.
The hotel’s dining room is a relaxed and informal place, inhabited by ruddy faced country folk, sporting outrageously bushy eyebrows – that was just the women - in their green wellies rubbing shoulders with townies sporting their best Adidas trainers taking advantage of the tropical, almost, conditions signaling the start of the ‘taps aff’ season – women again. We sat at a window table and basked in the sun’s glow.
Looking at the menu I was torn between Crombie’s pork sausages and the smoked fish and crabcakes. Our smiling and very efficient waitress suggested I have the kid’s portion of sausages and mash as a starter keeping the fishcakes for the main event. Deal Done, I’ve added a side of Mac ‘n’ Cheese to plug any vacant space left in my tummy.
Debbie is a bit of an arse pain. She won’t eat this, she won’t eat that. I think she has too much Trill in her diet. Still, she is smiling when she spies mussels which prepare her for a pan fried bavette and chips.
The bangers and mash were fab, not sure whose kid would be eating that size of portion, the spawn of Billy and Bessie Bunter I imagine. The sausages, all three, were perfectly cooked, not burnt, but with that sort of slight stickiness which you get from slowly cooked quality bangers. The mash and onion gravy were right up my comfort street. I was wishing I’d ordered the mains sized serving, still as a starter mind.
Debbie’s mussels were plump and plentiful, sounds like her appraisal from Hugh Hefner. The white wine and cream sauce glistened, highlighting the sprinkling of chopped herbs scattered on top. The bread would have benefited from a wee egg-wash and another minute in the oven, it was a little too peely-wally for its own good. However, it was a great dish of mussels.
Now I understand if you’re reading this and thinking, why would you go up to Loch Lomond in high summer to eat bangers and mash? I love sausages, that’s why. I had thought about the various specials on offer in addition to the regular plates; Barra landed scallops and blackened cod fillet being two plates among the specials’ choices.
Obviously David was of the opinion I ought to be more engaged with his creative skills and prepared the blackened cod as a surprise intermediate dish. Wow….. It was the highlight of the meal. I’m so glad he wrong footed me with this. It was a faultless dish, presentation, tastes and textures all perfectly balanced. Very well done.
I was creaking a little when the excellent fishcakes arrived but I gallantly carried on for the sake of this blog and polished them off. They were most substantial and piping hot, in fact I had to let them cool slightly before I ate them. They were everything they should have been and the fresh tomato salsa served with them a perfect accompaniment.
Bearing in mind the amount of food I had eaten the macaroni was always going to be a struggle. It was the weakest link of our meal; even on an empty tummy I would have been scornful. I like my Mac ‘n’ cheese to be cheesy, very cheesy.
Debbie’s ‘steak and chips’ was as anticipated, full of flavour. No complaints, but, if you’re a fillet or sirloin aficionado then you will find this cut requires more active molar activity than your regular prime slab of beef. The flank, where this cut is from, is often referred to as “the butcher’s cut” this is because they knew very well of the fine flavours associated with this flat slab of beef. Very hot grilling for a very short period along with ample resting and post cooking seasoning will ensure great results.
Only to avoid offending chef by not having any dessert, we forced ourselves to share a lemon tart with crème fraiche ice cream. I’m glad we did, the ice cream in particular was note worthy.
We waddled back to the car and were grateful for the circulatory effect of an open sun roof on the drive home.
I would certainly recommend a visit, even on a rainy day, they are doing interesting cooking here, we will be back for sure. It’s not so long ago that eating in the Scottish countryside was pretty much a game of chance, chefs like David have taken us out of that bleak era and opened up their local larders to hungry zealous travellers and bushy-eyed local gentry.
visit their website www.lochlomondarmshotel.com