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Loch Fyne

Elliot Seathwaite drowns in the tedium of the chain gang at Loch Fyne

Published on May 23rd 2008.

Loch Fyne

Loch Fyne is part two of the focus on City Square articles we've been doing: an accidential focus one must admit. Last time my colleague Jonathan Schofield reviewed the Restaurant Bar and Grill on City Square so I thought I'd nip next door, in the same building, the Old Post Office, and give fish central a seeing to.

This was so loud that I swear one old dear, who's nine millionth birthday it was, nearly had a stroke. It was the whooping and the clapping after the main song that did it. I propose mandatory jail terms for waiting staff caught whooping. And longer terms for the management who put the poor sods through it.

The former has a sparkling and impressive interior re-interpreting the grand old building. Aside from the insertion of a bar and retail area, Loch Fyne probably looks the same as it did when the posties moved out. This includes the photos of Scottish lochs and trawlers on the ocean which are mounted on cheap board. They look like the sort of thing those relatives you try to avoid visiting, buy and perch amongst the chintz. Overall it's all rather sad looking.

And then on my visit the situation was made worse by persistent Happy Birthday singing. About six staff would gather round a couple of tables and belt out, in the manner of frustrated opera singers, the dirty doggerel that is the bithday anthem. This was so loud that I swear one old dear, who's nine millionth birthday it was, nearly had a stroke. It was the whooping and the clapping after the main song that did it. I propose mandatory jail terms for waiting staff caught whooping. And longer terms for the management who put the poor sods through it.

As I sat there with a very dry bottle of Gros Plant du Nantais (£17), waiting for my seafood platter to arrive, I mused on how as a nation we've changed. Why do we have to openly display emotion, or worse concocted emotion, as in this birthday nonsense? Is it the American influence, I wondered, or down to me getting into my forties and grumpy?

My mood wasn't improved by being asked five times, in as many minutes, by about three different staff, if I was fine. By that time just the wine and the water had arrived. I never got round to being offered bread and olives. At the last enquiry after my health I said, crabbily: “No, I'm being driven insane by people asking if I'm ok.” That stopped the ministering immediately.

The food is a mix of classic fish dishes, a couple of meat and, of course, loads of proper seafood. Faced in a restaurant with the option of a platter of seafood, one should always take it. They're rarely encountered and should be encouraged.

This version was £34 and had as the main star, crab. The lobster variant costs £44. The description reads thus: shell-on Scottish langoustines, crayfish, oysters, rope-grown mussels, queen scallops, Atlantic prawns, tiny brown shrimps, crevettes, Cornish squid, cockles and clams.

It looked very good on first viewing. But it failed to live up to the visuals. The adjective I'd have to use was tired. There was something slapdash about the way it had been put together. As though the chef had stood a couple of yards from the platter and lobbed the food at it. It was also lacklustre in flavour. I'm not saying that the flesh was old but those whelks were more rubbery than the sole of an Air Max 90. Indeed the heated up elements mussels, whelks and so forth came a couple of degrees too cold to the table. The crab meanwhile was a mean little thing with scarcely enough flesh to fill a tablespoon.

I left out pudding, but had a decently strong coffee.

Chain restaurants can be a good thing when they're fresh, shiny and new, and the manager's running around whipping the staff into order. But once these middle market places start to age they quickly become little more than posh McDonalds. The food's better than the latter granted, but the standardised décor and the handbook-led service slips into being formulaic rather than consistent. In the end I don't want to feel a cog in a wheel with the hub far away in a business park. Restaurant Bar and Grill as yet doesn't feel like this.

Loch Fyne in City Square is manifesting all of these negative characteristics. The occasion was slightly rescued by the two members of staff who came on shift as I was finishing up and showed that good service consists of being solicitous without being in your face.

Still for £34, the platter was disappointing, the singing of Happy Birthday annoying and overall the occasion was simply drab and tired.

Rating: 10.5/20
Breakdown: 5/10 Food
3.5/5 Service
2/5 Ambience
Address: Loch Fyne
The Old Post Office
City Square
0113 3917550
Mon to Fri: 9am - 10pm
Sat: 9am - 10:30pm
Sun: 10am - 10pm

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Ferguson PybusMay 22nd 2008.

The one in Knutsford served me the worst, most expensive bangers and mash I've ever had.

big testacled blokeMay 22nd 2008.

Loch Fyne in Knutsford Cheshire is pants too

AnonymousMay 22nd 2008.

Aah! I guess Loch Fyne don't subscribe to "Manchester" sorry Leeds Confidential! Ha Ha!

NBoadenMay 22nd 2008.

Although I think that Elliot has got slightly carried away by the style of his writing, and lost the objectivity I'd like from a restaurant review he picks up on the two main problems with Loch Fyne in Leeds. The decor is vile - impossible to believe it's in the same building as restaurant bar and grill - and the seafood isn't good enough for the price. Ironically Livebait is much more "chainy" but the seafood platter is superb, although admittidly more expensive, and they do a better range of dishes. I should say though that I spent my Birthday in Loch Fyne and there was no singing. Thankfully

emmaMay 22nd 2008.

i think the loch fyne in leeds is lovely and the one in disbury is very poor.live bait in leeds however gave me food poisoning for 3days...

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