Wherever we travel to with work – currently all over the UK on 15 different TV renovation projects – I ask pals or Google to hit me up with suggestions for fabulous fish. There’s gotta be some perks to be away from home right? However Si’s seafood search can’t be all gigantic seafood platters and sizzling scallops. Sometimes our bank balance dictates a more affordable option and there’s none more so than fish ‘n’ chips.
Leaving the Stirling site on a nippy winter’s evening, we’d booked a stay nearby on the banks of Loch Ard. One of those nights after a long day when you can’t be arsed to go out for a meal, you just want easy food in big portions. When researching hotels I’d seen a local group of venues called the Mhor Collection but sadly for us they were all booked up that weekend. Despite the no room at the inn situation, what they did have was a really interesting sounding fast food option – Mhor Fish. He must trust me, mustn’t he, to drive four hours north to Stirling for work, then agree to drive another 30mins north of our bed for the night just to find a good chippy. Right on the Callander high street, it describes itself as “a cheerful little restaurant that’s more than just a chippy. Come in for lunch or tea, or sometime in between, for hearty sustainably-sourced fish suppers – battered or breaded, it’s up to you. Mug of tea? No problem. Or maybe a Pinot Grigio suits you better.”
That was me sold. Grigio gullible.
Fanfared on the website was not only regular chippy fare but also Loch Creran oysters, chowder, local mussels and get this, parmesan and truffle oil double fried chips. Couldn’t get there fast enough. Sod’s Law that the cafe was closed due to a maintenance issue when we pitched up and though we offered to fix the problem in exchange for shellfish, the burly fryer wasn’t having any of it. Obviously my lady builder rep hasn’t reached that far 😉 Even on a cold winter’s night Callander looked so blinking pretty, lots of small shops, pubs and twinkly lights. I thought that I might like to go back one day. Then we had the truffle chips. And I started to think about moving house.
My personal benchmark for truffle chips are the beauts at the St Pancras Booking Office bar. None since then have been as crisp, many taste too fake truffle, lots don’t have parmesan. Oh boy, did the ones in Mhor Fish hit the spot, and not just for the fact that they’re 1/3 of the price and served up in a paper tray. Absolutely delicious. Dry, salty, a hint of decent truffle oil and bloody loads of them. There were so many I actually couldn’t finish them. Gutted.
Maybe I was just in the mood for a good chippy tea. When something is such a surprise, it makes it taste so much better, do’t you think? Somehow the lack of build up means your tastebuds just get bowled over. Mine certainly were, on this nippy Saturday night in Callander :-)Mr M being a firm fish n chips man went for the traditional choice. He rated the haddock, putting it on a par with many of the restaurant F&Cs he’s had across the UK recently. Crispy, full of flavour and firm juicy fish. Not a scrap of it left for me to try!
I opted for scampi. It’s so often a massive disappointment these days, piddly bits of what can barely be described as meat, all grey, soggy and bland. Cheap pub chain food for £3.99 a pop. Mhor’s board proudly proclaimed theirs Whitby Scampi. It’s not often in a blog post that a half eaten piece of food appears. Sorry, not sorry, cause I had to show you. Chunky, white, firm and looking distinctly like the mini-lobsters they actually are. Fat, perfectly fried balls of scampi. Best I’ve had in years. Ever? Maybe.
Even the finely chopped, tartly crunchy tartare is something special. So good and so unlike those plastic sachets of vinegary rubbish normally found in chip shops.This little gem deserves every accolade and all the rave reviews. It’s an absolute cracker of a chippy.
I will forever remain sad to my soul that I was way too full to cap off our visit with a deep fried Mars Bar, that Scottish delicacy much mocked but now on my food bucket list. Maybe next time we’re up that way.
Now, how do we persuade every other chip shop in the UK to put beef dripping and truffle chips on their menu….