Looking for a more contemporary Christmas meal than a regular roast and tired trimmings?
Here at SW Londoner we sampled the Christmas party menu at Loch Fyne Seafood and Grill in Twickenham to see if we could be converted from traditional turkey to trendy turbot.
Venturing into the heart of Twickenham, past Hampton Court Palace, we arrived at the snug and attractively decked-out restaurant lit with plenty of pretty lamps, which provided a relief from the wintery evening.
The Christmas party menu offers five options for each of the three courses with a decent vegetarian option for both the starter and the main.
My dining partner and I skipped the butternut squash soup and chicken liver parfait for our first course, we were in a seafood restaurant after all, and went straight for the Scottish rope-grown mussels in white wine garlic sauce and the potted bradan rost.
I was served a wee pot of the kiln-roasted Scottish salmon which was topped with a horseradish and whisky sauce and served with some deliciously crunchy toasted granary bread.
I’m the kind of dining diva who seeks out the hottest flavours and have been known to challenge friends to chilli-eating competitions.
For me the horseradish sauce was missing the eye-watering mustardy kick I was looking for and unfortunately I couldn’t detect any whisky.
That said the flakes of roasted salmon were delicious and the deceptively small appearance of the pot belied the contents, which were enough to spread thickly on the accompanying toast with left over for greedy scooping straight from the pot.
My friend’s generous portion of mussels in white wine, cream and garlic sauce were beautifully cooked, the tasty little morsels willingly surrendered their shells and while the sauce wasn’t too rich, it was very heavy on the garlic.
Luckily we love garlic, but if you are hoping for a kiss under the mistletoe at your Christmas party you’d better hope your intended is into French kisses.
For mains we chose gilt-head bream fillet that was served with an Asian fusion ensemble of pak choi, fennel and potatoes in chilli and coriander.
My partner was suffering from fish fatigue and plumped for the sirloin steak, twice-cooked chips, garlic mushroom and peppercorn sauce.
Curiously, when the steak arrived all the promised sauce flavour was on the large field mushroom, which was very garlicky and dotted with black peppercorns, a small dish of jus sat unassumingly to one side of the plate and we mostly ignored it.
The twice-cooked chips were a revelation, they were everything gastro-pubs across the land promise but often fail to deliver. They were fluffy, crispy perfection.
The steak was remarkably thick for a sirloin, and was declared ‘tender and tasty’ by my dining companion.
Disappointingly for a seafood restaurant only two of the five main courses were fish-based and there wasn’t a shellfish to be snapped at.
The bream fillet was served skin on, there had been a mix up in the kitchen so it came with the accompaniments supposed to be served with the salmon fillet so I had an interesting mix of bream, braised red cabbage, sautéed potatoes, toasted hazelnuts and more horseradish cream.
To their credit the gracious staff immediately offered to make a fresh dish but I thought I’d go with the confusion meal and try it out.
The red cabbage, hazelnut and potatoes had a suitably festive vibe, and I would be proud to have whipped them up myself for a special Christmas dinner.
Rich, filling and really appetizing, the little sautéed potatoes oozed butter and were real comfort food for the dark and dreary night.
Bream is often compared to sea bass, and like its aquatic neighbour holds flavour well on its succulent, solid flesh.
It was cooked perfectly and although I didn’t care much for the errant horseradish cream, it worked well with the rest of the plate.
We were also served an award-winning Domaine Guy Allion Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley with our meal.
The dry, mineral notes cut through the rich flavours of our food with a refreshing zing. Sauvignons can easily stray into being too bitter but this was delicately balanced and an excellent accompaniment to the hearty food.
For dessert my friend chose the pear and frangipane tart with crème anglais which was heavenly.
The tart would have brought a twinkle to Mary Berry’s eye, even at its thickest it was pastry perfection with ‘a good crumb’ and avoiding the dreaded soggy bottom.
The pear and frangipane filling was a match made in heaven, the almond flavour was a nice nod to Christmas cake marzipan and who can dislike the queen of custard, crème anglais.
We could wax lyrical about this dessert all day, it was enough to share after a two-course meal but for an authentic festive feast we also ordered a cheese board.
The menu promised three handpicked Scottish cheeses served with spiced plum chutney and rough oatcakes.
If these are the best cheeses Scotland have to offer I would’ve supported the yes vote in their referendum just to get rid of this culinary catastrophe.
These orange, plasticky lumps lacked the depth of taste I’d expect from a well-matured cheddar and the unripe imitation of Lanark Blue couldn’t inject enough flavour to compensate.
The chutney lacked spreadable liquidy goo as it was mainly big chunks of fruit but was mouth-wateringly well spiced and the oatcakes were also great.
The cheeseboard was a let down but overall our final course was rescued by the excellent tart.
Loch Fyne Seafood and Grill in Twickenham is obviously popular with locals as the restaurant was busy with groups of friends and couples indulging in mid-week dining.
For a fresh take on Christmas dining you can’t go far wrong with fish, the chefs here definitely know what they’re doing with seafood and for that we can’t fault them.
The Loch Fyne Seafood & Grill in Twickenham’s Christmas party menu is available from today, three courses are £26.95 and does not include drinks.