Loch Fyne is ensconced the Old Post Office building in City Square, Leeds, a prime location for what is, quite simply, a prime restaurant.
There’s a lot going for Loch Fyne, from the way the food is presented in the lobby in an ice-covered table fridge, with rows of lobster and langoustines looking like they’ve just been pulled from the ocean, to the generally relaxing ambience of the place.
We ventured into the restaurant unannounced about 8pm mid-week and after a short wait were greeted by a polite member of staff, who took us to our table.
The only slight snag of the evening came early on, because having been shown to our table, we then had to wait quite some time before being attended to.
While slightly annoying, it did give us time to decide what we wanted from the menu, which offers a good range of foods including duck, steak and tortellini for vegetarians, although being a sea-food restaurant, a good deal of the dishes involve things from the ocean. And Oliver is happy to report it’s all very appetising.
In fact, it’s the kind of menu that’s just begging you to order a nice chilled bottle of white wine, which is precisely what we did, an Austrian Loimer at £20.95, a dry wine which went perfectly with our meal.
Diners have a choice of ordering oysters as a starter and seeing as we were in a seafood restaurant, what better way to test their credentials. The menu offers a choice of ordering one, six or 12 - I ordered six (£9.50). They were presented on a bed of ice, accompanied by lemon slice, tabasco sauce and two dips, one a light salsa, the other vinegar and finely chopped, seasoned onion.
Oysters may be an acquired taste but they went down a treat, especially with the wine, plus they weren’t too filling.
My dining partner ordered chilli prawns (£6.25), which were juicy and well seasoned, her only qualm being the dish was a touch too oily and needed a dash of lemon to cut through it.
Starters over with, we really started to relax into the place - the restaurant seems to have made the building its own.
There’s no garish fishing or sea-side inspired paraphernalia draped from the walls - near our table, there was a bold landscape painting so big you could lose yourself in it. Together with the subdued wooden hues of the furniture and the odd fern plant, it all served to project a calming atmosphere.
There was a nice gap between finishing our starters and our mains being delivered and we felt quite relaxed just sitting there with our drinks.
For my main course, I ordered marinated king prawns served with chips and mayonnaise (£13.95), which came on a wooden platter with a stack of about five very substantial looking shell-on prawns. The waiter was particularly attentive and brought finger and shell bowls before I began to dismantle the prawns, which had been cooked in garlic and other herbs and were quite simply mouthwatering.
It was also nice to see proper home made rough cut chips, and the lemon mayonnaise which came with them was perfect.
My dining partner went for the cod chowder (£9.95), which was packed with flavour.
We had no hesitation in taking a punt on the dessert menu - we ordered a cheese board, which came with blue, brie and cheddar, oat biscuits and grapes (£4.60) and a chocolate cheesecake £4.60). The cheese board was slightly let down by the tiny bunch of grapes, several of which were over-ripe.
There were no issues with the chocolate cheesecake, which came with a novel tangy ginger dipping sauce in a glass just large enough to get your spoon in, and vanilla ice cream.
We finished off our meal with two black coffees (£4.50), which brought the total bill, including drinks during our meal, to £88.40, which isn’t bad considering that £20 of that was the bottle of wine.
There’s a lot to like about Loch Fyne, it’s the kind of place which seems to belong in the very centre of Leeds, because it oozes effortless class and sophistication, without appearing pretentious. It has been established for a number of years, staff are excellent and very knowledgeable about the dishes and wines on offer.
It’s a place that once discovered, you will want to return to again and again, not just because the food is mouth-watering, not only because the service is great but mainly for the ambience of the place, which kind of seeps into you as you wine and dine, slowly forgetting about the world outside and after all, isn’t that what dining out is supposed to be all about?
It seems that at Loch Fyne, giving great service, creating great food and an atmosphere which transports you to the coastlines of your dreams, is just plain sailing.
Loch Fyne, City Square, Leeds, LS1 2ES
Opening hours: weekdays 9am-10pm; Saturday 9am-10:30pm; Sunday 10am-10pm. Tel. 0113 398 1001
FOOD..................... ....... ****
SERVICE .................. *****
***** EXCELLENT **** VERY GOOD *** GOOD ** AVERAGE * POOR