Restaurant review: The Inn on Loch Lomond

A short distance from Scotland’s largest loch, this inn, set back from the shores of Loch Lomond is a good place to replenish yourself with whisky and local seafood after a busy day exploring the national park

The Inn on Loch Lomond has been feeding and watering weary travelers since 1814, when the first flurry of tourists began visiting the region, in search of the hills and lochs so eloquently described by Sir Walter Scott in his poem, Lady of the Lake.

The inn has been given a bit of a makeover since then. Outside, the building is whitewashed with a small annex added on one side. Inside, bedrooms (it is an inn after all) are fresh and classic and though the ones in the main building are a fair bit back from the loch, if you are OK with a short walk, the ones in the Beach House offer direct shore access to Loch Lomond. At 23 miles long and five miles across at its widest, Loch Lomond is the largest of Scotland’s innumerable lochs (though Loch Morar in Lochaber is the deepest and Loch Ness has by far the largest volume of water).

But having spent a day visiting the slate-roofed heritage village of Luss and walking in pretty woodland where moss-covered tree stumps seemed to point the way along ambling streams as we searched for faeries (we had two kids in tow), we were here for dinner.

In the inn’s Mr C’s Fish & Whisky Bar/Restaurant, the onus is understandably on seafood – all sustainably sourced and prepared fresh that day. However, there’s also a good choice of pub dishes and a decent kid’s menu that understands what little people want (chicken goujons, burgers and pizzas).

To start, I opted for the bruschetta, thinking that I needed to save space for my battered calamari main. Little did I know that the portions here are huge but the bruschetta was well dressed with garlic and basil and though I probably shouldn’t have eaten it all, I did.

As this was our first dinner on our Scottish adventure, my partner went more traditional with Shetland mussels to start, which went down very well indeed, followed by haggis and black pudding pie, which he also polished off.

As the designated driver, I wasn’t able to sample any of the many whiskies on offer at Mr C’s but my partner duly volunteered to road test them.

Our waiter was extremely knowledgeable without being condescending and asked a good deal about personal preference (smokey or non-smokey, sweet or light etc.) before recommending a local malt. Afterwards, my partner felt it would be rude not to try the Talisker that our waiter had been very complimentary about (since we were also off to Skye), and that too proved very palatable.

We ate in the restaurant side, though if I could choose again I would opt for the whisky bar, which has a bit more atmosphere.

Of course if you find yourself in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park the chances are you’ll want to get out and about and explore some of the many nature trails, see historic sights, climb one of the 21 munros (or at least admire them from afar) and take to the water.

Cruise Loch Lomond, based less than a 10-minute drive away from the inn, in Tarbet, offers regular cruises out on the famous loch, with a mixture of themes.

We chose the Rob Roy Discovery Cruise as it was while he was travelling through what is now the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park that Edinburgh-born writer, Sir Walter Scott, first heard tales of the Scottish outlaw, who he wrote about in his novel Rob Roy, a book that was given the Hollywood makeover much later in a film of the same name starring Liam Neeson.

Today you can see many places associated with the famous outlaw, including a cave (sadly daubed with the word ‘cave’), where he supposedly hid out, which you can see from the cruise boat, and the nearby Falls of Falloch, sometimes called Rob Roy’s Bathtub. There is no way of knowing if Rob Roy did indeed bathe in the pools beneath the thunderous falls but you shouldn’t let that get in the way of a good story.

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