Posts for Crannog
Thursday 3rd Sep 2015
“There’s something about warm summer days that make me want to get out on the water. So, with the sun shining last Friday morning, we set off for a family trip along Loch Linnhe aboard the Souter’s Lass.
The boat sets off from beside the Crannog restaurant at Fort William Town Pier, and over the course of 90 minutes or so takes in a number of sights along the loch – including a large rock in the middle of the water which has come to be known as ‘Seal Island.’ You can probably figure out how it came by that name, but, if not, keep reading and I’ll reveal all.
We were on the ten o’clock sailing, and being the first day of the local schools’ summer holidays, we expected the boat to be much busier than it was. Not that we were complaining, as it gave us more room to roam around and everyone had an uninterrupted view out over the water.
The twelve o’clock sailing was much busier, so I think we made the right choice by going for the earlier option – although my 13-year-old son, who had been planning a lie-in for the first day of the holidays, might disagree.
Entertaining and Informative
Our skipper for the trip was incredibly knowledgeable about not just the loch, but Fort William and Lochaber in general. His narration as we cruised along Loch Linnhe was entertaining and informative, and his eagle-eyes even spotted a porpoise splashing around not far from the boat – one of the first sightings of the season. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as quick off the mark, and by the time I’d got the camera ready the only sign the porpoise had been there was an expanding ripple on the water’s surface.
We continued along the loch, passing a salmon farm, spotting lots of big silvery fish leaping around, and taking in views of the area that even we, as locals, aren’t used to seeing.
Although the sun was shining, a cold breeze was blowing. Luckily, the crew was on hand with a selection of blankets for those feeling the chill. On colder days, I’d imagine the covered seating area downstairs gets a few visitors – especially with its well-stocked bar!
In what felt like no time at all, we had reached Seal Island. Some days there can be upwards of a dozen seals flopping around on the rock and sunning themselves after a hearty scoff. Today, though, there was just one. He kept a close eye on us as we slowly circled around, snapping photos and shooting video for all we were worth.
The seals are easily startled by high-pitched noises – the voices of young children in particular can spook them – so a hush descended among all those on board as we looked at the seal and the seal looked back.
Eventually, we said goodbye to the island’s sole inhabitant and returned to the Crannog – although not before hearing about the trainee divers residing hundreds of feet below us in the Underwater Centre’s submerged Loch Linnhe training capsule. Apparently they stay down there for three weeks, breathing a mixture of Helium and Oxygen. Rather them than me!
Lunch at the Crannog Restaurant
After the cruise came the bit I was really looking forward to – lunch at the Crannog Seafood Restaurant. I’m a huge fan of fresh seafood, and there are very few places in the Highlands that do it as well as the Crannog does.
As part of the Cruise and Dine package, we were able to choose from a set three-course lunch menu, and although there were only two or three options for each course, the variety of the food on offer meant we felt spoiled for choice.
We opted for starters of Fish Pie and Smoked Haddock salad, and both dishes were vibrant and fresh, with a strong but not overpowering fishy flavour. My dad, who is as much of a seafood fan as I am, remarked that the smoked haddock was the best he’d ever had, and I have to admit I can’t think of ever eating a better fish pie.
The main course didn’t let us down, either. The Hake was flaky and melt-in-the-mouth soft, while my Breaded Haddock with Sautéed Potatoes was so good it’s probably ruined all other Fish & Chips for me for life.
My dad was too stuffed to tackle dessert, but I bravely pushed on, opting for the selection of ice creams over the dark chocolate cheesecake on offer. Rich, creamy and full of flavour, there was nothing I could find to fault about that course, either.
At just £25 per adult for the cruise and lunch, this would be a great value deal even if the food was average. The fact that for your money you’re getting a fantastic three-course meal from one of the best seafood restaurants in Europe means it’s an offer too good to pass up.”
Tuesday 30th Jun 2015
With school term time nearly complete for the summer holidays a few local schools here in Fort William, Lochaber have been enjoying a special children’s activity. Banavie Primary School is one school which recently spent a few hours on a family friendly outing aboard Crannog’s cruise boat, Souters Lass.
The primary school children enjoyed their journey down Loch Linnhe, departing from the Town Pier in Fort William. They were able to admire views of Ben Nevis, spot wildlife and hear more from our knowledgeable skipper about the animals and birds which live and thrive in the locality of Loch Linnhe.
In the below deck viewing lounge, the children used activity sheets to help them spot the local wildlife, and they had fun colouring the sheets in.
Feedback from other young cruise guests
“Thank you for our school trip to the Souters Lass. It was the best trip in the whole wide world!” from Mes
“To all the crew of Souters Lass, I am a pupil from Banavie Primary School. I am writing to say thank you for letting us on your boat. I liked going past the fish farm because the fish were jumping up and down” from Marcus
“Thank you for all the information about Loch Linnhe and the animals that live there. I would love to go back and have another trip” from Natasha
“Thank you for taking us on the cruises and showing us the animals” from Ryan
“Thank you for giving us a cruise for 90 minutes on Loch Linnhe. I saw 6 seals” from Cory
“Thank you for the lovely boat ride and telling us about the seals. The seals were cool” from Archie
“Thank you for the trip on the boat. I really enjoyed it and I saw lots of jellyfish there was about 150” from Molly
“Thank you for showing me the fish farm. I liked the way the fish jumped in and out of the water. I also liked the mussel farm. I hope you liked taking us on the boat. The Souters Lass is one of the bits I liked most of all” from Tom
If you are interested in joining one of our family friendly Crannog cruises in Fort William, Souters Lass will be departing at 10am, 12noon, 2pm and 4pm everyday throughout the summer holidays!
Visit www.crannog.net for more information or give us a call on 01397 700714.
Wednesday 27th May 2015
Following a recent trip to Fort William, travel writer Robin McKelvie joined a Crannog evening cruise. Read on to discover his journey aboard Crannog’s cruise boat, Souters Lass, as told by Barry Hutchison, from the Outdoor Capital of the UK.
Stepping aboard the Souter’s Lass at the Fort William town pier, the family embarked on a trip which saw them take in some of Lochaber’s spectacular scenery including Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain.
Popular for all ages
The cruises are a popular activity for visitors and locals alike, as they journey along the loch to pay a visit to the seals who like to bask in the sun on Seal Island. The 90 minute cruises offer the opportunity to spot more than seals, though, with porpoise and golden eagles both being known to put in appearances along the route.
For those rare, once-in-a-blue-moon occasions when it rains in Lochaber, the Souter’s Lass is equipped with an all-weather viewing level where guests can also enjoy some food, drink and traditional Highland hospitality.
Great in all weathers
Rain didn’t prove a problem for Robin and family, though, and a great time was spent spotting wildlife, marvelling at scenery, and standing up the front with arms held out pretending to be Kate Winslet in Titanic.
OK, that last bit was just me, but everyone else had a great time, too.
This is reblogged from the Diaries produced by the Outdoor Capital of the UK; see more on Robin’s adventures in and around Fort William and Lochaber on their website here.
Our cruises depart at 10am, 12noon, 2pm and 4pm; our Evening Cruises take place at 7.30pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during July and August. All cruises depart from the Town Pier here in Fort William. Just turn up around 15 minutes prior to departure.
Tuesday 24th Feb 2015
All over the world we are enjoying more of our Scottish seafood: particularly salmon which has seen global sales from the UK rocketing by a massive 27% in the first half of last year*. Here at Crannog Restaurant, where salmon is always on the menu, we are extremely proud of the succulent, tasty fish that Scottish waters produce.
Local Scottish salmon almost as popular as chocolate!
Around 25 million salmon were shipped across the world in 2013 to 89 countries – including shrimp loving Australia and sushi capital Japan. Growing global demand for salmon from the UK has meant it is now our second most exported food, muscling in just after chocolate and confectionary. While Crannog’s dark chocolate torte is a winner with our customers, the hot and cold smoked salmon on our current menu is what guests are really after!
Environment Secretary The Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP** had this to say on the recent findings:
“I am delighted that more and more families are enjoying the delicious, unique taste of this country’s smoked salmon. UK produce is something we should all be proud of.
These impressive figures show the UK is a place the world increasingly comes to, to buy quality, trusted food.”
Sustainable, healthy food
“Scottish salmon is a successful, sustainable healthy food that brings economic prosperity and long term employment to the UK. This year, for the second time in succession, Scottish salmon was named ‘best farmed salmon in the world’ in a poll of retail and foodservice buyers.
“It was also the 10th anniversary of receiving the European PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), granted to products with distinct regional characteristics, placing it alongside Champagne and Parma Ham.
“Industry continues to focus on protecting the Scottish salmon brand and markets by using sustainable production standards and husbandry techniques that produce high quality fish. Qualities such as firm flesh and distinct flavours, combined with Scottish provenance and tradition, have all been crucial to establishing our iconic brand and are especially important to our export markets in Europe, North American and the Far East.”
You don’t have to travel globally to sample our local delights; come and enjoy some delicious Scottish salmon prepared by our kitchen team under the watchful eye of senior chefs, Brian and Robbie.
Visit our Restaurant page here to find out more about the locally sourced produce we serve, or to book a table give us a call on 01397705589 or email email@example.com
** Read the full press release, issued by ‘The Department for Environment, Food *& Rural Affairs; the Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP’ here.
Friday 23rd Jan 2015
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.