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Loch Fyne Restaurant

Loch Fyne Restaurant

Loch Fyne Restaurant
The Bank House
High Street
Knowle
Solihull
B93 0JU

Tel: +44 (0) 1564 732 750

1st November 2002

Chain restaurants have been at the heart of the change in national eating habits in the last five or ten years. Some of their influences have been benign but some of their more corporate traits could be considered to have reinforced the stereotypes of the British as unsophisticated diners.

The newly opened Loch Fyne Restaurant in Knowle (an affluent suburb of Solihull, heart of a natural target audience for such restaurants but hitherto ignored by the chains) demonstrates many of the best traits of such establishments but thankfully few of the less satisfactory ones.

We (a party of four adults) booked our table for a Friday night at 8.00 p.m. and this generated the first of the more negative chain traits. We received a telephone call on the evening before our booking to "confirm" that we would still be dining. Having taken our contact details this call was rather unnecessary and excessively corporate. I wonder what the restaurant would have done should we have failed to turn up. Maybe a press gang despatched to deliver us to our table?

Anyway, a little on our guard we arrived at the restaurant and were greeted by an extremely friendly member of staff who asked a waitress to show us to our table. Should you have visited any other Loch Fyne Restaurants the decor and ambience would have been instantly recognisable- lots of stripped pine , bench tables, a buzz of conversation and laughter around the restaurant and very friendly and pleasant waiting staff.

As well as the normal Loch Fyne Menu (variations on the fresh Oyster theme, shellfish, fish soups, grilled fish, griddled fish, fried fish etc.) there were various specials chalked up on the blackboards usefully left near each table. So, whilst enjoying a bottle of fresh and crisp Muscadet Sur Lie and some bread and butter, we perused both menu and specials.

My partner chose the Lobster Bisque (and declared it to be as good as similar served in Perard 's estimable restaurant in Le Touquet !), one friend went for the Smoked Salmon (lightly smoked and a very generous serving), another for the kippers ("perfection, the best since a trip to Whitby and a probable future Brunch choice for me) whilst I had the traditional half dozen fresh oysters served with shallot vinegar and a bottle of Tabasco. The latter proved the maxim of less is more, simple oysters and a gorgeous glass of wine.

Our starters were demolished with a fair bit of cross table tasting and delight in our own and one another's choices.

Proceeding to the main courses one party had a portion of Scallops served with Red Chard ("fresh, plump and truly satisfying"), an oven roast Sea Bass that was "moist, mildly charred and a delight", grilled halibut that satisfied my friend's pre-meal memories of this king of fish and for myself a dressed Cromer Crab with mixed leaves and Mayo that likewise reinforced holiday memories of this underestimated national treasure. We accompanied these dishes with salad and some chips (and of course with another bottle of the gorgeous Muscadet ).

Feeling quite noble after all of the above healthy food (oh all right, the chips were slightly less than noble) we proceeded to desserts. Standard fare but well presented with one notable and decidedly British exception as you will hear. The ice cream was organic and judged "ummmm", likewise the light and crisp pastry lemon tart. However, the cheese (billed as a selection of best British Cheeses served with oat cakes , fruit and celery) was served straight from the chiller. This pernicious and regrettably very British habit instantly kills any chance of the cheese being appreciated to its advantage. In fact,in this case the cheese was so cold that even if left out of the chiller it would not I suspect have approached reasonable serving temperature until the following lunch time. Thankfully, however, on raising this issue with the waitress she listened to my complaint and promised that the matter would be discussed with the manager. Future visits will see whether the likely corporate policy has been amended.

The bill for dinner was more than acceptable and the best recommendations are that we all looked forward to returning (myself in particular to partake of the kippers for Brunch).

VERDICT:- Thank you to Loch Fyne Restaurants for all of the good points above and please try to lose those annoying corporate habits (press gang phone calls and frozen cheese in particular). A winner in an area previously largely only served by the usual curry/chinese options.

Ted Heath, Olton, Solihull

Eatanddrink Ratings

Loch Fyne Restaurant

Total Score: 77%
Quality: Good
Service: Exceptional
Facilities: Average
Ambience: Average
Value: Good

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