Posts for Seafood

Finding the Perfect Wine to go with Christmas Dinner

Friday 7th Nov 2014

Crannog Restaurant Fort William Christmas Menu Wine ListChristmas is a special time of year, and at Crannog Restaurant in Fort William we love everything about it – from our Head Chef preparing another spectacular Christmas Dinner and Lunch Menu, to our Restaurant Manager making sure we have just the right wines to complement each dish.

Our wines are supplied by a wine merchant based in Edinburgh that focuses on wines made with passion, integrity and uniqueness. In this blog post Philippe Larue, Managing Director of l’Art du Vin, recommends some wine and food pairings for some of the dishes from our Christmas Menu.

Christmas Menu Starters

Islay King Scallops

“Wines made from Chardonnay, whether crisply dry or rich and buttery, are nearly always good with scallops, so either the Unoaked Chardonnay 7 Day Road or a classic Chablis, or push the boat out with a Meursault.

Crannog Restaurant Fort William Christmas Lunch Wine ListArdshealach Smoked Salmon Parcels

“Smoked food has a strong flavour, but often works well with aromatic wines. I suggest the Pinot Grigio ‘Le Rosse’ or Dry Riesling from Villa Wolf.

Roast Parsnip & Apple Soup

“I would recommend either a rich chardonnay or a fruity Chenin Blanc!

Crannog Fish Cakes

“These require wines with good acidity particularly if served with strong flavours like celeriac purée. Classic pairings include Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé, Rioja Blanco or a Sauvignon from New Zealand.

Duck Pot

“Duck is very flavoursome and can cope with a powerfully-flavoured wine.  The Spanish red Baltana Negra should match the gameyness of the duck.”

Christmas Menu Main Courses

Turkey Roulade

“I would recommend a Tempranillo to complement turkey, so Rioja Capitoso would be the ideal partner.

Salmon En Croûte

“Wines that complement oily fish such as mackerel and salmon tend to be citrusy, crisp and fresh. Go for an ultra-dry white if you can such as a Sauvignon Blanc or Muscadet. Rioja Blanco would be ideal.

Crannog Restaurant Fort William Christmas Dinner Wine ListRoasted Monkfish/ Baked Cod

“When picking wine to drink with roasted fish, you have the added complexity of smoke and the crisp charred edges of the fish – there are lots of flavours to play with. Rich, fuller whites will be a particularly tasty pairing with roasted monkfish and baked cod.  Burgundy offers some delightfully balanced Chardonnays with zippy lemon-bright acidity and hints of round buttery flavours.  Chablis or Meursault are excellent for these dishes.

Seared Scottish Sirloin or Rib-Eye Steak

“For me, a good Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Malbec with some well-chosen and exquisitely cooked beef is a joy, so for this dish I would recommend the Cabernet Sauvignon Cannonberg or Malbec Organic Santa Julia.

Lightly Spiced Butternut Squash Tart

“This dish has subtle aromas as well as delicacy of flavour and texture, so I would recommend the Pinot Noir from Bulgaria.

“And for dessert, the Monbazillac should match all of them!”

For more information on our Christmas Menu, including our full wine list and festive opening hours, visit our website here.

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Crannog Restaurant’s Senior Chef Explains His Passion for Cooking

Wednesday 29th Oct 2014

Senior Chef Bryan MacDonald at Crannog Seafood RestaurantLocal man Bryan MacDonald was brought up here in Fort William; even when he left school aged 17, he had his heart set on a career as a chef. Here he tells us a little bit more about his journey to becoming a Senior Chef with Crannog Restaurant, and his passion for the food he cooks.

How long have you worked at Crannog Restaurant?

“I’ve worked at Crannog for about 12 years in total, with some short spells in Glasgow to help me gain more experience in different types of restaurants.

“I have worked my way through the kitchen in various roles. I started my career at a large hotel in Fort William, which was incredibly busy; and then worked in a more casual café style restaurant. I enjoyed both types of work and the experiences I gained there. I was then lured to the bright lights of Glasgow! I worked in a busy Italian restaurant there and then a smaller French restaurant, and both provided me with really great experiences and I certainly learnt a lot and added to the skills I had.

“On my return to Fort William I started working at Crannog. This was a long time ago and during the wild winter in 2005, when the Crannog Pier was shut by a freak storm, the restaurant moved temporarily to The Underwater Centre. Here, I met my wife who happened to be working at The Underwater Centre too!”

Which is your favourite area of the Crannog kitchen to work in?

“Definitely the hot side where all the main meals are prepared; I love it when it’s really busy and it’s all action. We can serve up to 120 meals a night during the busy summer months so you’ve got to act quickly but really accurately too.”

Give us an example of a delicious meal you would enjoy preparing and cooking at home in Fort William?

“I love making a roast dinner complete with homemade Yorkshire puddings, mashed potatoes and asparagus – I’ve got three young sons who love a good roast, so when they enjoy it, I enjoy cooking it!’Rolled sole with risotto served with a chilled glass of Chablis

“Anything with fresh fish is also great to cook – which I guess you’d expect me to say! Even though I have worked in a seafood restaurant for a number of years I still love filleting fish and cooking white fish like hake, turbot and halibut. You can’t beat a good, fresh piece of hake, also served with potatos and my favourite vegetable, asparagus.”

What do you do to keep up to date with new trends or changes in cooking?

“To stay current and up to date I watch plenty of cooking programs, do research on the internet and we also do plenty of “in house” trials and testing over the quieter winter months at the restaurant. This quieter time gives us all a great opportunity to experiment, improve and develop; for example, making different types of bread. I love watching Rick Stein, along with Masterchef and the Roux Scholarship.”

What do you do to ensure the quality of the seafood being served to guests at Crannog Restaurant?

“It’s all down to ensuring the fish we buy is top notch. Our main supplier is a local man from Mallaig who has a great handle on the market and fantastic fishermen friends. He provides our restaurant with great fresh fish mainly sourced from the West Coast. During our quieter winter months, he will drive from Mallaig himself with a box which contains a mix of fish which have been out of the water merely a few hours.’

“In the summer, when fish is in high demand in Scotland, he will supplement the supply from Mallaig with sources from the East Coast to meet our ever increasing needs. Another local supplier provides us with fresh West Coast shellfish, including scallops and mussels, and lobster from Mallaig and around Mull.”

What’s the process like, among the kitchen team, when it comes to creating new, seasonal menus?

“With Crannog’s seasonal menus the whole team get the opportunity to give ideas and provide their input. Head chef Stewart makes suggestions and then we can discuss as a team; he welcomes feedback and we all enjoy getting involved in options and adding our opinion, and obviously tasting the new dishes too!”

What do you like to do in your spare time?

“I love spending time with my wife and boys. The boys are starting to enjoy cooking as well and recently we have started baking together which is great fun, if a bit messy! Favourite creations in the kitchen so far are desserts, which you’d expect from three young boys, so sticky toffee pudding, chocolate brownies and cakes, in general!”

Bryan is just part of the ‘behind the scenes’ kitchen team at Crannog, who are led by head chef Stewart MacLachlan and, along with Bryan, our other Senior Chef is Robbie. If you’d like to learn more about our kitchen team, sign up to our blog to receive notifications of new posts, as we’ll be posting about more of the team over the coming months.

If you are interested in becoming a chef yourself and have any questions for Bryan about how to train and become a competent part of any kitchen team leave a comment below and he will get back to you.

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Celebrate this Christmas at Crannog!

Friday 26th Sep 2014

With the nights drawing in and an autumnal feel in the air, it’s time to think about Christmas dining celebrations! What better place to choose when eating out over the festive season than Crannog Seafood Restaurant? Dine with us and enjoy the wonderful menu that Head Chef Stewart MacLachlan has created.

Popular dishes on our Christmas Menu

From his experience of creating seasonal menus for the restaurant, Stewart has included a mix of popular seafood, meat dishes and a vegetarian option too, Seared Islay Scallops served with celeriac remoulade and pickled fennelensuring all customer tastes are catered for. Scallops are always a firm favourite, so for our 2014 Christmas menu Stewart has chosen to include King Scallops in the selection of starters.  Fresh from Islay, they are brought directly from the fishing boat to our restaurant to ensure these delightful shellfish are served at their best.

Another popular inclusion is the Seared Scottish Sirloin or Rib-Eye Steak served with a tattie terrine, braised red cabbage and a pink peppercorn sauce. This leaves meat eaters to decide between the luscious tender cut of the Sirloin or the juicy and more succulent Rib-eye. Both are freshly pan-fried to your taste.

Dark Chocolate Brownie from Crannogs Christmas Menu served in DecemberChoosing the dessert is tough; tradionalists will be likely to choose the Crannog Christmas Pudding served with cranberry and toffee sauce and brandy ice cream; however Crannog’s Dark Chocolate Brownie with caramelised banana, and orange and pomegranate crème fraîche is certain to be a real favourite during the festivities.

Christmas Lunch or Dinner from 11th December

Dine out this Christmas at Crannog These are just a selection of the range of dishes available throughout December; read our full Christmas menu here. This menu will be served for both lunch and dinner from Thursday 11th December until Wednesday 24th December inclusive; plus our three course special lunch menu will still be available throughout December, with a Christmas theme, for £18.95.

If you would like to see our full Christmas Menu for 2014 click here or, to book, email info@crannog.net or call Sarah-Louise, our Restaurant Manager, on 01397 705589.

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What’s on your plate? Scottish Shellfish

Thursday 28th Aug 2014

One of the things we’re most proud of at Crannog Restaurant is the wealth of beautiful shellfish and seafood that’s available in Scotland.   The pure, plankton-rich waters around Scotland’s coast and inlets produce delicious, high quality seafood that is not only enjoyed on our shores, but exported all over the world.

140820 Lobster £189Lobster from Eigg, Scallops from Islay

This season our customers have been enjoying mussels from local lochs such as Loch Nan Uamh and Loch Eil, scallops from Islay, langoustines and crab from Mallaig, and lobster from Eigg (we had one lobster recently that weighed in at 3.5kg!).

Our chefs believe the quality of our Scottish shellfish speaks for itself, so more often than not we serve our shellfish simply: langoustines with garlic butter, or mussels in a classic white wine sauce.  

Crannog Restaurant Head Chef shares his secrets

Head chef, Stewart MacLachlan, shares his method for cooking Lobster Thermidor here; download the recipe and try it yourself.  Let us know how you get on!

You can read more about how we source the seafood and shellfish on our menu here.  Our specials board changes daily, depending on the catch, so to find out what’s on today give us a call on 01397 705589 or email us on info@crannog.net

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Meet Sarah-Louise: Front of House Manager at Crannog Restaurant

Friday 30th May 2014

Sarah-Louise PedersenSarah-Louise Pedersen started her role as Crannog Restaurant Manager in March 2013; although her connections with the restaurant began back in 1998. While at school, Sarah-Louise worked as a waitress during the holidays. She returned to work at Crannog every summer and continued to do this even when she headed off to Art School in England.

“Quality fish to create uncomplicated dishes”

Sarah-Louise returned to her home town of Fort William after completing her Art course and took up the position of Assistant Manager at the Grog and Gruel, another local restaurant, in 2006. Here she added to her experience by learning management skills before progressing to her current role. On returning to Crannog Sarah-Louise says, “Crannog’s principles remain unchanged. The kitchen team, led by head chef, Stewart MacLachlan, still use the freshest Scottish seafood prepared simply to let the quality of the fish speak for itself. The Crannog ethos hasn’t altered at all over the years.”   Sarah-Louise’s experience in art has also added to her role: owner Lorna Finlayson is an artist and art enthusiast, and the walls of Crannog Restaurant display the work of many local artists.

What’s the best part of your role as Restaurant Manager?

“We work very hard to create the best possible experience for our guests and hearing all the positive comments is easily the most enjoyable part of my job.”

Who would be your typical Crannog guest?

“In this tourist town the guests are varied; for example winter brings skiers, spring brings the Scottish Six Day Trials bikers, summer brings the downhill mountain bikers and those aiming to climb Ben Nevis or complete the West Highland Way. We are so lucky to be located in such a busy and interesting town!”

All in a day’s work

Sarah-Louise Pederson doing paperwork and taking in the loch view from Crannog RestaurantA typical working day for Sarah-Louise starts around 10.30am; she checks lunch and dinner bookings and deals with email reservations. Continual staff training is what Sarah-Louise sees as key to the high levels of service at Crannog, which set it apart from many other restaurants.

After ensuring the restaurant is ready for evening guests, Sarah-Louise grabs the chance for some fresh air and walks her dogs. She returns to the restaurant around 5.30pm, ready for evening service, which starts at 6pm.

After restaurant hours!

Sarah-Louise is a devoted godmother to her friend’s daughter Freya; on her days off Sarah-Louise often collects her from nursery and they enjoy a spot of baking and painting together.

Sarah-Louise also enjoys being on the other side of the table and dines out a lot with her fiancé, Joe – that’s when she’s not dining at Crannog of course!

We hope you have enjoyed learning more about our Restaurant Manager, Sarah-Louise; if you have any questions for her about the restaurant, either pop in to the restaurant on Fort William Town Pier or leave a comment below.

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