[Fort William] Crannog
It could have been so much better. It SHOULD have been so much better. A seafood restaurant. On the pier. One that appears in guidebooks. Even food guidebooks. Yes, it should have been so much better.
What was very good was the Cullen Skink. It was everything I’d want from it – fishy, creamy, a robust smokiness from the haddock, big chunks of fish and potato.
Opposite, a smoked haddock soufflé was good in itself. Good texture, the same excellent fish as the other starter. It sat on a bed of salad which should have provided a nice crisp texture contrast. However, everything had been drenched in a boring, thin cream sauce – serving absolutely no purpose except to make the salad soggy.
The sauce cropped up again in my main course. Except, by this time, it had split. Other than that, this was a fine fillet of fried salmon with just some wilted leeks and still crisp asparagus. But, oh, it could have been so much better. Certainly, it was deserving of a far better sauce.
My partner’s main was off the specials board. A whole roasted sea bass. In itself, nicely cooked but let us hope that a new trend is not starting here – fish is much better served with the fins cut off – especially when you’re paying nineteen quid for it. The description chalked on the specials board advertised and accompanying fine bean and chorizo salad which, by the time it hit the table, had morphed into a spinach and chorizo salad. It worked OK – but not as a well as the beans would have done.
I passed on dessert but my partner went with another special – strawberry and vanilla custard tart. Excellent thin crisp pastry, rich filling and, alongside, some vanilla icecream.
Oh, and the coffee? Yes, it should have been so much better. Served luke-warm and with all the flavour of dishwater.
But, all that said, Fort William is a small town not well endowed with good eating opportunities. It’s either here or Inverlochy Castle. And, with Inverlochy ludicrously continuing with its archaic practice of requiring jacket and tie, it means I’d always be choosing Crannog.
my experience was similar - good in places but not consistent. below is what i wrote in october 09:
we stuck to the specials board and ate some very simple and mostly delicious food as a result. to start we had crannog fishcakes with buerre blanc and sesame crusted brill with a chilli salsa. the brill was a little dry and the salsa flavours didn’t really come together but the fishcakes were packed with flavour and were wonderfully light due to the small amount of potato they contained.
my baked cod fillet with fennel and mussel broth was gently flavoured and contained some of the most delicately-textured mussels i’ve ever eaten – they melted in your mouth! my oh chose the tusk fillet with creamed leeks and dill gnocchi. neither of us had tried tusk (aka torsk) before and really enjoyed its slightly rich flavour – it is a white fish which looks a little like monkfish but has a flaky texture; it has a stronger flavour than something such as cod or haddock. sadly, i’ve just seen that it is on the list of fish to avoid which makes me wonder how it got onto the menu, although the waitress did say it was the first time she had seen it, so maybe it was a one-off.
i was full after this but oh polished off a chocolate mousse with white chocolate brownie. the brownies (blondies, surely) were made with hazelnuts which was a really delicious touch.