The Glencoe and Ballachulish area of the Scottish Highlands is absolutely replete with bed and breakfasts and other self-catering accommodation for the intrepid trekkers and romantic getaway seekers who venture north from England and Edinburgh for long weekends. Restaurants are harder to find, and range from casual cafes like Glencoe Cafe to casual pubs.
K did a spot of research though, and decided that we would head to Laroch Restaurant and Bar in Ballachulish for dinner on our overnight trip to the Highlands. With lots of positive reviews online for the hearty food cooked by Michelin-trained former Scottish-Chef-of-the-Year Allan Donald, Laroch definitely stood out as the best restaurant in the region.
We were lucky to get a table early on the evening when the restaurant was still quiet, thankfully after having stopped by earlier that day to make a reservation. Even though it was a Tuesday night, the restaurant was full by the time that we finished our meal and left. They’re popular not only with tourists like us but also with locals – one large group was clearly a local group of mums out on the town, free from the responsibilities of kids for one night!
The regular menu is short and simple, but nothing jumped out to me as a dish that I have to try. Luckily, the chef is particularly keen on using seasonal produce as it’s delivered to his kitchen, so the daily specials menu is always long and ever-changing. K and I chose both our mains off the specials menu, but chose some sides from the regular menu – this Garden Salad for example.
I’ve never encountered a garden salad that’s as well put together as this. Instead of a few limp salad leaves drizzled with vinaigrette, this is a full-bodied garden salad made up of rocket, plump juicy cherry tomatoes, creamy avocado and tart pickled vegetables like turnips and carrots. The pickled veggies were the perfect touch to add a touch of acidity to the sweetness of the tomatoes, the creaminess of the avocado, and the peppery rocket. A wonderfully balanced salad.
Unsure of how large the main meals would be, I also took the liberty of ordering two more side dishes – Onion Rings and Chips. This proved to be a mistake as you will see how large our meals were, but I can’t ever regret ordering crunchy fried onion rings.
I chose the special of the Roast Loch Duart Salmon – I’m always a fan of supporting local producers, and fresh sustainable salmon from a local Scottish loch was highly appealing. While it was cooked more than I would personally prefer (I prefer my salmon pink and barely seared!), the crispy caramel skin of the salmon was a real delight. The bed of rich tomato-y chickpeas highlighted with the occasional piece of spicy chorizo was the perfect accompaniment.
K chose the Herb Crusted Lamb Chump for his main, and was delighted with its tenderness and subtle savoury lamb flavour which while not overpowering, was still very much present. The potato rosti was a winner, but I preferred the occasional gem of a plump mushroom in the lentil mix.
Laroch Restaurant and Bar may not present ten courses of each dish with mere morsels beautifully plated. Do expect Michelin-quality cooking when you visit though – they offer a delicious meal of local ingredients cooked with loving care in a way to highlight their best attributes. Food is tasty and plentiful, offering home-cooking but by a Michelin-trained chef of the highest calibre. Laroch is definitely worth a visit if you ever go to the Scottish Highlands – just make sure to make a reservation beforehand!
Laroch Restaurant and Bar is located at Loan Fern in Ballachulish, in the Scottish Highlands.