Last week OH went paddling in Loch Lomond and put in at Balmaha (btw ‘paddling’ and ‘putting in’ are both kayaking terms – just so you know he wasn’t up there bare footed with his trousers rolled up) Anyhow, he loved the area so much he wanted to take me back to see the scenery – particularly in autumn. Therefore, first thing Sunday morning, we set off and headed towards Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. He wasn’t wrong. The scenery was stunning.
After a scenic walk along the shoreline just after Balmaha, we travelled back and parked across from the Oak Tree Inn. When we entered we could see straight away how busy it was. There was a large bar, restaurant and conservatory that were all bustling. However, the staff were keen to help and found us a table for two in the conservatory.
Annoyingly, we had a couple of false starts where we had to ask for menus and then find someone to take our order but as it was so busy we made allowances. Looking around though, I realised that the place would always be like this at lunch time and the initial poor service was not the norm as the staff were plentiful and pretty attentive and, with hindsight, I couldn’t really fault them – it actually was just a false start.
What I could fault though, was that the specials were written on a board in the restaurant and I had to stand up and walk through to see them, which was annoying. Particularly because the blackboard was positioned above a table and I had to stand in front of a couple and squint at the hard to see options.
Turns out, I was glad I made the effort as I went for the special of Sea Bass with creamy white wine sauce served with asparagus and a savoy cabbage and onion mash. It was amazing. The construction of the dish, the way the ingredients complimented one another and the presentation were all spot on. The Sea Bass had large meaty flakes and a crispy skin, the mash had just the right amount of cabbage and spring onion mixed through it and the asparagus had a lovely fresh bite. Overall, it was a dish I’d order time and time again.
OH decided on the Traditional Steak and Mushroom Pie made with locally reared beef, topped with crunchy puff pastry served with fresh market vegetables served with chips or parsley buttered potatoes (he went for chips). His pie came in one of those tin enamel, white and blue dishes, which people in the 70s used when camping. (probably earlier and in the war but I just remember camping with the Guides in the 70s and having to get a blue and white enamel tin mug and plate before I’d pass muster). He got rid of the dish as soon as possible as he hates steak pie being in a separate dish (I don’t think he’s alone with that). The stew part of his pie looked rich to me, the gravy was really dark brown and glossy. The vegetables were a great mix of peas, turnip, courgette, cabbage and carrots and his chips, were, well, chips. OH says he really enjoyed his pie – he said it was rich and there were good chunks of meat that threaded up when he cut into them and the mushrooms weren’t soggy. The added on pastry lid however, was just ok. Personally, if I ask for a pie I want a pie and not stew with a bit of pastry on top so I can see his point.
Happily, we were both sated after our main courses and we didn’t even ask to see the dessert menu – even though I’m sure they’d have been just as good as our mains.
…and just in case you read my last blog – the toilets this week were on point and I had no complaints there either 😉
2 mains, a coke, a white wine, a coffee – £37.30 (the amazing scenery was free)