Lodge on Loch Lomond, Luss
We’re near Loch Lomond for holiday purposes and, despite the fact that we’ve read ominous advance predictions of near biblical rainfall for our entire visit, the weather has been mostly very pleasant. We’ve spent the days yomping to the top of hills, sailing the loch, wandering along remote forest trails and visiting historic sites, all of which tend to promote a healthy appetite. After a couple of days of happily self-catering, our thoughts inevitably turn to the prandial and we decide that dinner out is in order – and wouldn’t it be a shame to visit this part of the country and not sample the culinary wares? That’s our excuse, anyway.
Colquhoun’s is housed in a hotel, The Lodge on Loch Lomond and, as the name would suggest, dining there does offer customers a special perk, namely a grandstand view of the loch itself, in all its shape-shifting glory. As we sit there perusing our menus, the loch runs effortlessly through a varied selection of weather conditions, from brilliant sunlight, to all misty and mysterious; if we were rating this place purely on its setting it would easily achieve top marks.
The starters are somewhat short of top marks, though. Susan has the Queenie scallops, which look delightful, prettily served on sea shells. They are delicately flavoured and nicely cooked – but the chef has seen fit to cover them with a crunchy savoury topping which is unpleasantly oily; this mars the experience somewhat. Likewise, my starter of rabbit and leek terrine, though tasty enough, comes with two thick slabs of dry oatmeal bread and a handful of undressed rocket. It’s not awful, you understand, but neither is it top notch fare.
Happily, the main courses prove to be a big step up from this. Susan opts for the pork shoulder, which is cooked Chinese-style, floating in a thick bacon broth, richly aromatic with soy and ginger. It’s accompanied by noodles, squid, kimchi and crispy pig ears. It’s all nicely done, though those pig-ears (more chewy than crispy) certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste. The squid however is perfect, quite the nicest we’ve had anywhere. My buttermilk-fried Galloway pheasant is also beautifully prepared, succulent and tender and served with roasted pheasant boudin, plums, figs, parsnips and a hazelnut dukka. These two dishes are much more complex and satisfying than their predecessors and we start to think that maybe we chose a keeper after all.
And then along come the puddings and once again, if this review was based purely on them… Susan’s apple comprises a delicious vanilla apple mousse, accompanied by a tiny toffee apple, a sweet sugary doughnut and a scoop of apple sorbet. (The tiny apples are Kenyan, a friendly waitress tells us, as is the pastry chef and this is, apparently, his signature sweet). I go for chocolate and that single word fails to do justice to what actually sits on my plate – a gooey dark chocolate pave, with peanut butter, banana ice cream and cocao nib tuille. These are seriously good confections, which quickly banish memories of those inferior starters. Plates are very nearly licked clean.
If you’re around Loch Lomond at any point, and in the market for a spot of fine dining, this is worth further investigation- especially those magnificent desserts.