Crannog Restaurant’s current winter menu is the perfect example of how our chefs use and make the most of the locally sourced produce we have available to us in Fort William, Lochaber and Scotland in general.
Here, our head chef, Stewart MacLachlan, describes a few of his favourite dishes from the current menu – and some of our most popular ones – and explains more about the sourcing of the ingredients used in the dishes.
Starter of Crab Claw Bisque
‘The Brown Crab used in this dish is caught off the coast of Mallaig; although it is a shellfish which is widely available around the UK. For this starter, which is quite time consuming to prepare, we cook the whole crab and then take it apart to get right into the claws, where the white meat is. The white meat is used for the rouille – a spicy mayonnaise – which is spread on the croutons.
‘The brown crab meat – the stronger flavoured of the two meats – is used for the bisque, or soup. The shells and meat are roasted in a really hot oven, then cooked with lots of vegetables; brandy and tomatoes are the main ingredients for the bisque which give it its rich, intense flavour.’
Ardshealach Smoked Salmon
‘This is one of our most popular dishes from the current menu; it’s a lovely light starter which is packed with flavour. This hot and cold smoked salmon starter is a great example of how we let the main ingredient – the full of flavour fish – speak for itself.
The salmon comes from a local smokehouse in Glenuig; Ardshealach Smokehouse. We use both types of salmon because they complement each other so well; the hot smoked salmon is cured in salt and then smoked and cooked in a kiln over whisky barrel chippings, giving the salmon fillets a lovely rich smoky flavour. The cold smoked salmon goes through a similar process, although isn’t cooked, and is cured for much longer in the salt.
‘The salmon used is sourced from farms in Wester Ross; they are Freedom Food salmon so the fish is well looked after. They live in wooden cages and are not as tightly packed as other farmed salmon; this means the salmon fillet is of much better quality with a better texture, and has less fat.’
‘The hot and cold smoked salmon are served with a dill cream and a salsa verde; both of which accompany the flavour-filled fish perfectly.’
Plaice Fillet Rolled with Gravadlax
‘Our plaice also comes from Mallaig, although in the winter this is weather dependent so sometimes it comes from the East Coast. This delicate white fillet contrasts well with the stronger flavour of the salmon. The gravadlax also comes from Ardshealach Smokehouse; the salmon is cured – not smoked – in salt, brandy, dill and black pepper for a minimum of two days, giving it a rich flavour.
‘The fricassée, which accompanies the dish, is made from locally farmed mussels and clam stock; the shellfish is cooked in white wine and is then reduced down with lots of diced vegetables, and cream.’
Scottish Rib-Eye Steak
‘Our rib-eye steak comes from local butcher, MacMillan’s, who sources his meats from Argyll, the region south of Lochaber. Again the flavour of the meat is left to do the talking, and is served with Dauphinoise potatoes, which are thinly sliced, pressed and cooked with garlic, cream, parmesan and thyme. You can choose your sauce of preference; Béarnaise or Peppercorn – I’d personally choose the Béarnaise sauce!’
‘To complete your meal, our hands-down favourite dessert of all time is our Cranachan. The Cranachan is made with cream and local Ben Nevis whisky, and blueberries – sometimes we use raspberries instead, depending on the time of year. This traditional Scottish dessert is served with flapjack which is made from honey which comes from Onich, a small village a few miles south of Fort William, and is mixed with oatmeal, golden syrup, brown sugar and butter, to make this equally traditional Scottish sweet biscuit.’
Daily Fisherman’s Catch
Our main menu is supplemented by our specials board which changes daily depending on the local catch landed, so it’s up to the local fishermen what’s on our specials board! We’ve developed strong relationships with fishermen in Mallaig, which means we are offered a good selection of fresh seafood. Most fish is available all year round, so halibut, langoustines, sole and scallops feature regularly on our specials board. Shellfish is always better in these winter months, because of the colder weather.
This is Crannog Restaurant’s passion – to bring you, our guests, the freshest of seafood.