Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Loch Fyne

I have a great memory of Guildford, Surrey.  It involved me and Udita getting into a cab from a private hospital where I had a follow-up appointment post-surgery last year and asking the driver, en route to the city centre, if he had any good restaurant suggestions for dinner.  "Well, depends on what you're after," he said, speaking in a broad accent.  "You want nice?  Pricey?"  "Maybe something in the middle," we ventured.  "Ok," he said, pulling up into the main bit. "You like fish?"  "Yeah," I said, half-listening. "Well, there's this little place up the road ..." he said, pointing his finger at the windshield.  "It's called Loch Fyne."  "YES!!!" I squealed.  "THAT'S PERFECT, thankyouSOmuch!" I shouted, as I paid and jumped out of the cab.  He looked confused.  "What, you don't want to hear the rest of the options?"  "Nope!" I said, slamming the cab door.  We practically sprinted up the street and were seated, within minutes, in the serene, wood-beamed restaurant, near the fish counter with fresh bread and wine on the table.  Lovely.

The Loch Fyne chain has a lot of sentimental significance for me as I first discovered it in York with John when we stopped in to have a set lunch one day.  We liked it so much that we returned for dinner a few days later and it's since become a favorite of ours.  That particular Loch Fyne had a window seat that looked directly into my friend Chloe's beautiful Georgian flat, which also held many warm memories of tea-sipping, dissertation complaining, and general friendly chat.  Once, when John and I were having dinner, I texted Chloe to say we were there and she came to the window and waved - it was great (she's a vegetarian, otherwise I would have asked her to join us, I'm not that rude!).  One of my favorite things to order on the menu is the Kinglas smoked salmon sashimi (pictured above) with a dollop (literally, as you can see) of wasabi.  Every morsel is like a little bite of heaven.  And because I was spoiled by the seafood we had growing up in Washington state, I like to know that Loch Fyne only serves sustainable seafood sourced either directly from Loch Fyne or around the British Coast.  Not bad, eh?

Now, I've been to the Loch Fyne in London (Covent Garden, but I suspect the other London locations would have similar settings) but wouldn't recommend it - unless you want to sit cheek by jowl to the person next to you.  The service there is frenzied and the food prepared slap-dash; not a pleasant experience at all.  But if you do get a chance to visit their other locations, say, in Woburn, York, or yes, even Guildford, I'd highly recommend it.  It's a lovely place to take your friends, family or significant other.

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