New seafood restaurant Loch Lomond near Bristol is a ‘breath of fresh air’ – Mark Taylor
OK, let’s face it. Not the prettiest view for an upscale seafood restaurant.
Rather than azure seas and sandy shores, there are sweeping views of the abandoned TJ Hughes department store and Deniz kebab house.
And then there’s the name itself – Loch Lomond. Why a restaurant in the lanes of Weston-super-Mare is named after the Scottish lake is beyond me, although I guess it never hurt the Loch Fyne range.
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Loch Lomond opened a few weeks ago on the St James Street site that was Chris’ Greek restaurant for 40 years.
The Constantinou family retired this summer and sold the restaurant to Mark Willis, whose family has long-standing ties to fishing in Grimsby.
Mark and his partner, Marianna, spent £30,000 on the refit and the result is a light and airy monochrome room that’s a far cry from the Greek tavern style of yesteryear. In the kitchen is head chef Mark Foxwell, who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and eateries in Australia and Dubai.
The majority of fresh fish and seafood served at Loch Lomond is sourced from Cornwall and delivered to the restaurant daily.
Apart from fish and chip restaurants, Weston-super-Mare has never really had a dedicated “fancy” seafood restaurant, so Loch Lomond is long overdue.
And it’s already a hit with the locals. The only table we could get was at 5.30pm on a Saturday – not the most fashionable time slot but we grabbed it anyway.
The restaurant was surprisingly busy at the time – perhaps due to pre-theatre diners heading to that night’s show at the Playhouse – but service was quick and efficient despite the early rush.
Although there are a few non-fish options, including a few vegetarian options and steaks, Loch Lomond is all about seafood.
I started with the Cornish mussels (£10.50) – a mountain of shellfish and plump bivalves in a steaming white wine and garlic sauce with real depth.
My daughter went off-piste with her Parma ham, olives and melon (£6.95) which arrived with good bread and salad. It was an old-fashioned aperitif sure to please any diners who used to eat at Loch Lomond’s predecessor, launched in the 1980s.
She returned to the fish menu for her main course of smoked haddock (£17.95) – a thick, large-flake fillet poached in milk.
The lemony garlic sauce was thickened with fresh cream and sprinkled with chives and capers.
There were also a few spears of asparagus, fried potatoes and slices of roasted red onion – a side dish of vegetables that also popped up with my main course of halibut fillet and prawns (£25.75).
The halibut was well cooked and incredibly fresh, the prawns big and juicy. If I were to be hypercritical, I’d wonder if the well-made brandy and sherry cream sauce added so much to the dish.
The sauce was quite tasty but it was quite heavy and masked the fresh sweetness of the fish itself. Sometimes less is more when it comes to high quality seafood.
I was faltering by the time the dessert menu arrived, but the teenage girl across the table seemed to find an extra stomach for her incredibly rich and gooey vegan chocolate brownie (£7.25 ).
As we left just before 7pm, the place was buzzing as the next wave of diners arrived, including a huge party.
OK, the prices might be a little ambitious for Weston, but since the restaurant was full, locals are clearly happy to pay for the experience, and the town has been crying out for a decent restaurant for years.
High quality fish and seafood within walking distance of the sea, Loch Lomond is a breath of fresh air for Weston’s food scene.
Loch Lomond, 12-16 St James Street, Weston-super-Mare BS23 1SS. Tel: 01934 620731
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