Ξ April 9th, 2008 | → 3 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Restaurant Reviews, Tasting Notes |
Newhaven Harbour, Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland
I was not expecting a business trip to Edinburgh to provide much material for an article – deep fried haggis balls and very good curries washed down with gallons of beer doesn’t fit into the Reign of Terroir mission statement! However I was pleased to discover the hotel was next to a Loch Fyne Seafood restaurant and managed to have a pleasant evenings dining on the recommendation of my colleague Matt, who has frequented their sister restaurant in Newcastle’s Gosforth area.
Loch Fyne is named for the sea-loch on the west coast of Scotland famous for its oysters, and the company started as an oyster farm and bar in the 1980s, with the first restaurant opening in 1990. Since then it has grown to 38 premises throughout the UK (39 if you include the Sheffield restaurant due to open this week) and has garnered a reputation for quality seafood and a dedication to sustainability in its produce – they use the Gaelic saying “Nach Urramach an Cuan” (How worthy of honour is the sea) on their site. In 2007 the chain was bought by Greene King, the largest British owned brewery in the UK.
As I looked through the wine list (a copy of which is available on their web-site) I noticed a lack of obvious brand names and, although predominantly French, an interesting range of styles and types. The menu had enough variation to come up with several tempting alternatives for the meal, but as the waiter went through the evenings specials and came to “Fish & Chips” I knew what to go for – I’m a sucker for the traditional stuff! Once that decision was made I chose a Muscadet Sevre et Maine, Sur Lie, as an accompaniment, the Domaine des Dorices Cuvee Choisie 2006 Vieilles Vignes. I’ve had this style of Loire Valley white before and have not been disappointed.
A bowl of lobster bisque came first, served with bread and aioli. The rich soup had an almost “earthy’ flavour and was delicious, and I appreciated the strong garlic mayo! Matt went for the peppered smoked mackerel pâté and oatcakes, a full flavoured pâté (from the small taste I had). The Fish & Chips arrived with a small bowl of minted mushy peas (good taste, although a little desiccated) & tartar sauce. The fish, a good sized haddock fillet, was delicious and full flavoured, very meaty with a golden batter, while the chips (that’s fries to the Americans!) were the best I’ve had for a while, especially dipped in ketchup and mayo! The fish was maybe a touch dry but that’s more of an observation rather than a criticism.
Throughout the enjoyable eating experience was the Muscadet. This had a delightful pear and apple nose and a slight frizzante on the tip of the tongue, moderate glycerol texture and a nice creamy dryness and good acidity – overall a very good wine with the food.
Before leaving I asked restaurant manager Lisa about their wine list. She was very helpful and explained how the company MD, who owns a chalet in France, visits the country regularly and is keen to source as many wines as possible direct from local suppliers rather than through merchants or wholesalers. This explains the mostly brand free, predominantly old-world wines on the menu, many of whose producers are, as stated on the wine list, “eco-friendly or organic in their grape growing and vinification techniques”.
A case in point it the Domaine des Dorices Muscadet I tried, produced by the Boullault family, near the town of Vallet, this winery proudly reports controlled chemical fertilisation, minimum chemical pesticide use and intervention with non-polluting products.
After a filling meal the prospect of dessert or coffee was too much for both of us, so we thanked Lisa for her help and happily settled the £50 ($100) final bill. I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit to Loch Fyne, the food and wine were excellent and I now need to try out the one in Newcastle to see if this is true of all their restaurants!