The Village Inn, Arrochar
I've been meaning to go to The Village Inn in Arrochar for ages. I drive past it at least twice every week, on my way to work, and every time I see it I am reminded that I really should pop in. Last week presented me with an opportunity to do just that!
My cousin and his wife had invited me to help support the Arrochar 10k last Saturday. This is a brilliant 10k race that I ran a couple of years ago with a friend but, this year, while I work on improving my damaged knee, I happily agreed to help out. If you've not done the run before, I thoroughly recommend it. I'm not a trail runner - in fact, I'd never done any trail running before this one - but it was great fun. The first section takes you through the trees and forest trails and it is steep but the views are spectacular as you glimpse the vista over Loch Long through the trees. It's actually part trail, part road race because after you make the descent from the hilly part, you run through a section by Ardgarten and then onto the road alongside Loch Long to make the final trot towards the finish. After the race, everyone de-camps to the Three Villages Community Hall (a gorgeous building, what a lovely resource!) where the runners are treated to tea, coffee, water and home-made cakes before the prize giving. The prize table is weighed down with bottles of good whisky, prosecco, wine and beer! Anyway - enough about running...this is about food.
My cousin and his wife insisted upon taking us for lunch and we gratefully accepted. He'd booked us a table for 2pm but we were finished up earlier than anticipated and wandered round the shore road to see if the Village Inn could take us earlier than our booking. This was absolutely no problem at all and there were plenty of tables to choose from. The inn is split into two areas - a restaurant area and a pub area. The restaurant area isn't white tablecloths and candlesticks - it still has a thoroughly pub-like atmosphere, with dark wooden tables and chairs, and a roaring fire, so we made ourselves comfortable in a corner. I would note that there was a lady nearby breastfeeding her baby - this shouldn't be something that requires comment but I realise that many women have uncomfortable experiences feeding in public places so I was pleased to see this mum at ease. Felt sorry for Dad though, as he attempted to snatch mouthfuls of his meal whilst tracking down their energetic toddler!
The menu here is ample with a good range of options and plenty of traditional pub fare, including steaks, burgers, mac and cheese, sausage and mash, pies, and fish and chips, and a healthy dose of seafood dishes such as scampi, rope-grown mussels, and sea-bass. There was also a specials board, so there are other fresh options that change daily. Somewhat predictably, we opted for the fish and chips - well, it was a pub!
What arrived was a really generous portion with a huge piece of fish! I'm not sure you can really see from the photo, but there were plenty of chips - they were just hiding under the jaws-sized piece of fish. The dish came with peas (you can choose from mushy or garden), a slice of lemon, and freshly made tartare sauce. The fish was absolutely perfectly done - the batter was really light and crispy, and inside, the fish was soft and flaky. The chips were fluffy inside and were particularly delicious with a wee smear of tartare sauce on them! I am a sucker for home-made tartare sauce - I think it's the only way it should be eaten and I always feel it speaks volumes if an establishment serves shop-bought tartare.
We would have eaten a pudding but by the time we'd worked our way through the fish and chips, there was no room - says a lot for the portion size, you won't go hungry. It's rare for me not to find space in my pudding stomach!
In terms of drinks, I was driving so it was diet coke for me. However, my cousin opted for a pint and picked Fyne Ales' Highlander from the selection of local ales and beer on offer. The ambience was relaxed and we happily ate and chatted for a good couple of ours, with no sense that our table needed to be turned. I would have stayed longer and had a wee gin and tonic, but for the fact that I had the car and two hungry cats at home who would be wondering where their food was!
Speaking of staying - you can do just that. If you're finding the peaceful surroundings soporific or you're looking for a space to lay your head after some good hill walking up the Arrochar Alps, you can book a room here, from £70 per night. There are 14 rooms and the room rate includes breakfast. Other useful things to know - there's decent parking and it's dog friendly, so do bring your pooch.