I’m going to escape to my island paradise.
Not Barbados, nor the Galapagos (to hang with my tortoise pals).
I’ve decided on Inchcailloch, one of the small islands on Loch Lomond. The name, in Gaelic, means island of the old woman. I feel that I could be extremely happy there. But I’m not buying my one way ticket just yet.
Instead, we docked in Luss, the picturesque west bank village that is otherwise known as Glendarroch in Take the High Road.
Their seafood bar has been there for a couple of years, and adjoins the upmarket lifestyle boutique, Luss General Store, where I had to be talked down from buying various knick-knacks. Do I really need a little sheep with a fleece made of candy-floss-coloured felt? Yes.
Just along the road, you’ll find their smokehouse, where they use sustainably farmed salmon and trout from local suppliers.
If you want to see this produce showcased in the restaurant, go now. According to the waiter, they’ll be shutting up for winter at the end of this month. It doesn’t appear to say this anywhere on their website or Facebook page, but I’m taking his word for it. Indeed, there was a low energy end of season vibe, with three irritable wasps – Stingy, Stripe and Krueger (named after Freddie) – bimbling around half-conscious inside the window. Once in a while, they flew off, to land in someone’s bowl, or scramble across a fork.
None of them took a dip in our cullen skink (£6.50), though I’m sure a bath in this magnolia coloured cream, which contained chips of peat-smoked haddock, potato beads and leek, would have been a Cleopatra-like and intensively skin softening experience.
Pleasant enough, and definitely better than my option of cured sea trout with Guinness bread (£8). I had asked what the billed “cure of the week” was, but the waiter said there wasn’t one at the moment. How about Paracetamol?
Underneath some decorative pea shoots, like Farrow & Ball paint concealing dodgy plasterwork, this offering featured dusty looking clods of stale bread, which tasted like cake and didn’t work alongside stringy whorls of sticky sea trout. I drowned this dish in lemon juice, and anointed it in butter, but that didn’t help much.
Praise be, my main was better. Their signature fish pie (£13) is unusually liquid, as fish pies go, and unconventional, in that there is just one quenelle of grill-toasted mash plopped on top. Its extreme moreishness might be explained by a generous knob of butter, which left golden globules dotted across the creamy sauce, or the pale pink meaty chunks of their kiln smoked salmon.
Good, though my other half was less enthusiastic about his main course of dill injected crab linguine (£13).
The pasta was fine and the shredded crustacean contingent was present and correct, it just needed the volume turned up a notch. Perhaps it would help if the chilli was distributed evenly, rather than just three hoops tossed in, like a lazy game of quoits.
Also, more lemon and roasted garlic please. They were supposed to be the stars, but only had tiny little cameo parts, like Joanna Lumley in The Wolf of Wall Street.
We weren’t that excited by the choice of puds – crème brûlée with fruit compote (£4), ice-cream (£3), or one of the tea-timey cakes, like brownies, that were on the counter – so we split with my pastel coloured sheep, and left the wasps to walk in their ever decreasing circles.
After jumping on the ferry back across the loch to Balmaha, we stopped in at the self sufficient Cafe St Mocha.
They create Loch Lomond Luxury Ice-Cream, and we had a scoop of the lush chocolate variety (£2), as well as a couple of decent flat-whites (£2.85 each), made with their own Loch Lomond Coffee Co grounds. Oh, and there was also a nuclear sweet slice of biscuity tiffin (£2.55) and a coconut and lemon traybake (£2.55) that had an inch high layer of soft frosting.
All of which helped to clart up my arteries, ramp up my biological age and hasten my permanent residence on the secluded Inchcailloch. Bring it on. n