Venachar Lochside, Callander

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OH and I have been to the lovely restaurant on the banks of Loch Venachar before so on Sunday, when we decided to take a road trip around The Trossachs, we knew we wanted to revisit Venachar Lochside for some good food and amazing loch views.

Although it looked busy, we were seated without problem and the smiley young waitress quickly gave us 2 menus – the regular and the specials one. It also wasn’t long before our drinks order was taken. One large red wine and a coke. Yes – I wasn’t oncall or driving!

Unfortunately the loch looked a bit lacking and where there used to be water lapping at the shores now there was just shores. OH asked the smiley waitress if there was a hole in the loch and laughingly she replied that the fish were thirsty this year. The reality was that there is a damn at the bottom of the loch, which keeps the river flowing at the cost of the depth of loch.

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Last year November

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This year October

The specials menu listed the soup of the day as butternut squash with chilli and Parmesan, which sounded so heartwarming we both ordered it. Then OH decided on the pan roasted Scottish salmon fillet, walnut pesto, sun blushed tomato, fennel slaw, pea shoots, Arran mustard and honey dressing, and I went for the whole baked Venachar trout, sauteed new potatoes, dressed salad leaves, their tartar sauce and lemon wedge.

As we sat I noticed a sharing board going back behind the counter. The sharing boards look really impressive. Large quantities of cheese, meats or smoked fish are on offer. I’m not sure why the board was going back – maybe it was fish and should have been cheese – anyway, it was quickly swapped without fuss.

At out last visit we shared the Lochside board and it had everything from ham, cheese and oatcakes to pate, bread and onion marmalade – it did not disappoint.

When our drinks arrived I pointed out to the young waiter that my glass had a chip in it. He looked mortified and thanked me for spotting it. The glass was quickly swapped without fuss.

It wasn’t long before 2 plates of steaming creamy coloured soup arrived with large chunks of fresh granary bread. OH and I looked at one another with the same thought. Isn’t butternut squash soup orange? OH pointed out that we just ordered soup and maybe there was potato and leek soup on the regular menu. We tucked in regardless. A couple of minutes later the smiley waitress appeared and asked if we had spotted anything wrong with the soup. We admitted we had and she apologised and explained they had ran out of the butternut squash soup and had forgotten to tell us. No swap, no fuss. The soup was good and there was loads of it. Probably too much. The bread was amazing and I really didn’t want to finish it but I did. Stupid woman!

When the mains arrived I wasn’t sure if the plate was big enough for my whole trout – thankfully there was no head or it would have had to rest on my lap.  Unfortunately I completely forgot to take photos – blame the wine. The trout was cooked perfectly and I managed to pluck the whole backbone from it. My side plate then looked like a cartoon cat had pulled the bones from it’s mouth.

As we ate a guy who had been sitting outside with his family came in and asked where their scones were as they were nearly finished their drinks. The scones were quickly arranged and taken out without fuss.

OH’s salmon was excellent – really moist and the skin was nice and crispy. He managed to finish everything however I struggled with mine and for no other reason than I was too greedy with the soup and bread. I decided to take a break and rested my knife and fork on the plate (not together) but a new waitress suddenly appeared and lifted my plate. I was too stuffed to argue or make a fuss.

No-one appeared to see if we wanted one of the fabulous looking desserts, probably because it was a new waitress that had cleared our table and not the nice smiley one so OH flagged down the waiter and asked for a black coffee.

The nice smiley waitress brought the coffee over and said, “One cappuccino.” My face was a picture until I realised she was joking and it was a black coffee she had brought. Nice one.

The table next to ours were having the fish and chips and I couldn’t help but overhear the waiter asking if they could get them anything. The reply, “some cutlery would be good.” The cutlery quickly appeared without fuss.

We really enjoyed our meal but OH was spot on when he pointed out, “The chef is out back knocking his pan in to make fantastic food but he is being let down by the young ones.”

This restaurant is well worth a visit – the food and views are amazing and hopefully when you do visit the young ones will have got their act together.

2 soups, 2 mains, 1 large wine, 1 coke, 1 coffee = £37.05

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