Loch Fyne, Trumpington Street, Cambridge
This meal felt like a May Ball marred by rain; a sense of anticipation followed by frustration at wasted potential....
Our waiter was knowledgeable and attentive (although somewhat bafflingly, a request for smaller portions was dismissed as ‘not possible') and initially his enthusiasm was infectious. We ordered the salmon trio starter (£8.75), despite knowing that the sashimi part of the trio was unavailable. Going to Loch Fyne without sampling the smoked salmon would be akin to going to Egypt and not seeing the pyramids. The kiln-smoked Bradan Rost salmon came in a meaty chunk which was a good contrast to the delicate sheets of the more traditionally smoked salmon. Both were outshone, though, by the trio of marinated herrings (£6.65) which were the best dish of the night. The Madeira-marinated herring was surprisingly and pleasantly sweet, the mustard-marinated herring was creamy and subtle rather than hot, and the refreshing pickled herring rounded off the trio nicely. We decided to try the charcuterie plate (£6.25), impressed that a fish restaurant would bother to offer one - the sentiment did not survive the sampling.
The lobster frites (£24.45) arrived with cold chips and barely any garlic butter. The crustacean didn't have the dignity in death that it deserved. The bisque was better and the ideal post-exam comfort food. The seafood mixed grill (£20.45) was only a partial success. Whilst the shellfish were good, the salmon and the bream were bland. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the dish lacked cohesiveness. The bed of new potatoes and spinach failed to tie it together and the one unifying element was the excessive amount of butter.
The tarte tatin (£5.45) was perfectly caramelised whilst still retaining a hint of sharpness , whilst the creme brulee (£5.25) and Muscat dessert wine (£4.65, 125ml) were respectable. The interesting herrings and flawless dessert bookended mains that let Loch Fyne down.
Perhaps the fault was less with the restaurant than our choices; the marinated and smoked starters allowed more room for creative flair, whereas our main courses were simple dishes where the ingredients were the star. If we had ordered the specials, we might have witnessed more creative flair, but in order to write a useful review, we chose dishes readers could be sure of finding on the menu. The overall meal was pleasant, but the main courses were as bland as this review. I cannot paint you a vivid ‘word-picture' because there were few piquant tastes to describe. The restaurant was kind enough to offer us a complementary review meal – but if I had been eating there for my graduation dinner and paying the menu prices, I would have felt underwhelmed.Loch Fyne wasn'tbad; it simply failed to inspire.
The restaurant seems to be keen to catch the more quotidian student customer as well as the graduation dinner crowd; fish and chips, with a choice of traditional batter or tempura, are £5.50.Perhaps Loch Fyne works better as a down-to-earth lunch spot than it does as a dinner destination.