Posts for Seafood
Friday 9th May 2014
Since 5th May 1989, Crannog Restaurant has been serving the finest Scottish seafood to locals and visitors to Fort William; 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of this well known, family-run business.
From a bait shed to a Seafood Restaurant
Local fisherman, Finlay Finlayson, found it frustrating to see his catch heading to London markets, instead of being served in the beautiful loch-side setting of his home town. Finlay decided to convert the bait shed on Fort William Town Pier into a restaurant, and fulfil his dream of serving his catch directly to customers.
Due to the restaurant’s increasing popularity and to make the most of the spectacular views he added a conservatory area to the building, and it boasts one of the finest views up and down Loch Linnhe from the ladies loo! The Town Pier itself has an interesting history, having been used both as a World War II lookout point and a Caledonian MacBrayne office.
Fishing – a vital role in the community, and Fort William
The name Crannog was chosen by Finlay’s wife Lorna, a history graduate, with an interest in crannogs, which were built in Celtic times as fortified loch dwellings; fishing played a vital role in the crannog community. The name fitted perfectly with the restaurant’s location and the idea behind the restaurant.
Fresh, local seafood for locals and visitors
Finlay’s ethos, on which the restaurant was created, remains the same to this day;
“Although I no longer fish myself, we still make sure that the fish we serve is landed locally, mostly in Mallaig, and is of the freshest quality. Our specials board, which is served in addition to our main menu, changes daily depending on the catch landed. This provides our guests with a great choice of seafood, and also keeps our chefs creative too!
“Lorna and I are incredibly proud of the Crannog ethos of serving fresh, local seafood to locals and visitors in Fort William and are immensely proud of our enthusiastic and loyal staff who continue to make it possible.
“25 years has gone by in a flash, so here’s to the next exciting period!”
As part of the 25th anniversary celebrations, Crannog Restaurant gave the 25th diners in the restaurant, at lunchtime and in the evening, a complimentary meal! The above picture shows one of the lucky diners – Anne & Edward Jones from Wales, picture with Finlay and Lorna Finlayson.
Share your memories of Crannog in the comments below; maybe you have been a member of the front of house or kitchen staff? Or perhaps you’re a regular guest – we’d love to hear from you!
Thursday 20th Mar 2014
If you’re a fan of our Facebook page you’ll know that we regularly post about the range of seafood dishes we serve at Crannog Restaurant in Fort William (alongside photos of the fabulous loch views of course!). Now that we’ve got new customer wifi installed in the restaurant our guests have also been sharing their favourite dishes from our seasonal menu, as well as requesting hints and tips. We recently had a request for one of our salmon dishes, so our Head Chef Stewart has kindly shared his recipe for Seared Salmon with Smoked Salmon Scones:
2 salmon fillets with skin on
300g mashed potato (e.g. King Edwards or Maris Piper)
75g plain flour (plus extra for rolling)
120g smoked salmon
1 tablespoon chopped dill/parsley
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Cool mash until warm (this makes it easier to work with).
- Roughly chop the smoked salmon, and add with the herbs to the mash. Mix thoroughly.
- Sift in the flour, continuously mixing the mash.
- Flour a cool surface and tip out mash.
- Kneed for approximately 2 minutes to incorporate all mix.
- Flour a rolling pin and roll out the mash to 3cm thick.
- Use a round cutter to cut out the scones.
- Fry the butter and oil in frying pan.
- When butter starts to froth add the potato discs.
- Cook both sides until golden brown.
- Warm another frying pan with a little vegetable oil.
- Add the salmon to this pan, skin side down first until golden brown, then turn until all 4 sides of the salmon fillet are golden brown.
- The fillet should be cooked but can be transferred to the oven (in a hot ovenproof pan) for another few minutes if needed.
Click here to download the recipe as a pdf.
We hope you enjoy cooking this taste of the Scottish Highlands in your own kitchen; if you’d rather have Stewart and his team cook it for you in the restaurant then just give us a call to book a table on 01397 705589 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday 13th Feb 2014
As you’ll know, it’s Valentine’s Day this weekend, and it’s an event we look forward to every year. It’s a very special menu to prepare: Stewart, our Head Chef, enjoys rising to the challenge of creating a menu that will tantalise the taste buds on the most romantic day of the year. Front of house, Restaurant Manager Sarah-Louise is stoking the log stove, plumping the cushions and lighting the candles to ensure that Valentine’s Day really is a special evening for our guests at Crannog Restaurant. That’s how we do it here in the Highlands; how is St.Valentine celebrated in other parts of the world?
In the Italian city of Turin it was customary for an engaged couple to announce their engagement on this day. For a while before the day shops would be decorated and filled with all sorts of bon-bons. We’ve been known to have a few engagements over the oysters and champagne at Crannog Restaurant, so fingers crossed for this year!
In Spain it is customary for courting couples to exchange gifts and for husbands to send their wives a bunch of roses. If your significant other isn’t a fan of flowers we’ll bet they’d love a chocolate and almond heart from Crannog.
In Australia during the gold rush, miners who were flushed with new found wealth from the Ballarat mines were willing to pay a pricey sum for elaborate Valentines. Merchants in Australia would send orders of a thousand pounds at a time. We can guarantee our £29.95 St.Valentine’s menu is better value. ;)
Do you have any special Valentine’s traditions that are a bit different? Will you be joining us this weekend for a seafood treat?*
*We do have wonderful beef and vegetarian dishes if you or your partner prefers.
Monday 2nd Dec 2013
Lorna was delighted to welcome members of Fort William’s Chamber of Commerce to the restaurant recently. The Chamber has been holding its regular networking meetings at different venues throughout Lochaber in 2013, and this month it was our turn!
With 36 members in attendance, the restaurant provided an ideal location, with plenty of space to network and catch up beside the cosy fire. The fire certainly warmed guests on what turned out to be a rather chilly Autumn day!
Chamber members were welcomed with a drink on arrival; a choice of alcohol free cocktails – Lemon & Ginger Spritzer or Orange & Cranberry, or tea or coffee for those feeling the cold! As always, head chef Stewart MacLachlan produced a fantastic selection for our special lunchtime menu for the chamber members to choose from:
Roasted Tomato & Pepper Soup with Basil Pesto
Smoked Mackerel and Beetroot Salad
Crab and Apple Timbale with Salsa Verde
Roast Pork Belly with apple puree and garlic & pancetta mash
Smoked Salmon Penne Pasta served with Spinach & Parmesan
Spiced Lentil Cakes served with a chilli chutney
If you have any questions for any of our restaurant team or are looking for information on how to book our restaurant for a large group, please leave a comment below and one of our team will get back to you.
Thursday 7th Nov 2013
Having spent time ‘down under’ where he worked in both Melbourne and Sydney, he returned to his birthplace in Ireland for a time, working in various venues in and around Dublin.
We are glad to say that in 2008 Stewart returned to his beloved Fort William, where he now lives with his wife and young son.
“I love to source and forage for ingredients close to home. I have a few places I have discovered where I can guarantee to pick a feast! Chanterelle mushrooms, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries can all be found right here in Lochaber.”
Fortunately, Stewart also likes a spot of fishing! Stewart used to have a small boat which he loved fishing from, but these days he’s more likely to be seen catching a few mackerel from the basin at Corpach.
Demonstrating the Capabilities of a Professional Chef
In order to help school children discover an enjoyment for cooking and to demonstrate how easy cooking can be, Stewart was invited to take part in the “Seafood in Schools” event at Lochaber High School. Throughout his demonstration, his rapport with the children and his flair in the kitchen made a great combination; young talent from the school were definitely enticed into the world of cooking!
Stewart is passionate about minimising waste, so when asked which part of cooking he enjoys the most he was not the least bit hesitant:
“I love to use the entire fish; I don’t like anything to go to waste. One fish can be used to create so many different dishes. Take a monkfish; I can firstly use some of the innards and bones to create a stock; next I can use the flesh to make a main dish such as Pan-Fried Monkfish and Salmon; then part of the monkfish can be combined with other ingredients along with the flavoursome stock to make a bouillabaisse. The fish stock is used to flavour various sauces including accompaniments such as the creamed leeks served with the Pan-fried Monkfish and Salmon.”
Pan-Fried Monkfish & Salmon served with creamed leeks, spinach and clapshot
Crannog Bouillabaisse – poached seafood in a tomato-based broth with rouille
“My favourite desserts are always citrusy and fresh. For example, I really love the Lemon Sponge on the Autumn menu just now. It incorporates a traditional dish of Lemon Sponge and then we add a twist by serving it with lemon curd and basil ice cream.”
Lemon Sponge – steamed sponge with lemon curd and served with basil ice cream
Lemon Tart with orange mousse and candied fennel
Typical of a chef, Stewart thrives under the pressure of a busy day in the kitchen:
“During the day the most pressure is getting ready for service. Preparation between 8am and 5pm is the busiest time. Mornings start with filleting and stock making; preparing mousse and pastries. Soups are prepared next before moving on to sauces and the main dishes. This ensures all our food is as fresh as possible for both lunch and dinner service”.
Stewart’s favourite restaurant is The Kitchin in Leith, Edinburgh. This restaurant, led by the inspirational Tom Kitchin himself, saw it gaining a Michelin star within a year of opening.