The House of Darrach opened in 2010 as a member of the Cawley Hotels family, which also includes the Duck Bay, Wheelhouse and Loch House restaurants. House of Darrach is a bit of everything – they sell everything from clothes and jewellery to food and drink to toys and gifts. Through the shop, however, is the coffee shop which, let’s be honest, is the real reason we made the journey through to Gartocharn. As we were seated we passed a stand piled with delicious looking meringues, tarts and cakes, but we averted our gaze long enough to look at the menu, which is fairly substantial for a café of its size.
Morning specials are served until noon, and then you hit pages filled with sandwiches, baked potatoes and salads, before moving onto the main meals section. All the usual culprits are joined by some slightly less common finds, such as the Prime Steak Meat Loaf and the Croque Monsieur, the latter being the dish of my choosing. Soft white bread had been filled with cheese and ham and smothered in béchamel sauce to create the ultimate cheese and ham toastie. Unfortunately, a relatively good dish was let down by two factors – processed ham and oily béchamel. I understand why the ham comes from a packet, I really do, but even at that it didn’t seem like the best processed ham that could have been used. The oily sauce wasn’t an issue at first, but as time wore on I started to struggle, and the last few mouthfuls would probably have been best left on the plate.
Mum’s Lasagne suffered the same issue, as well as being too salty, but it wasn’t a terrible dish. Certainly, the accompanying garlic bread looked very tasty (not that I got a taste – but hopefully that’s an indication of its worth). Dad chose the Belhaven Beer Battered Haddock after seeing the size of the plateful that had arrived at other tables (fish and chips was definitely order of the day). His fish (whale may be more suitable) was coated in a thick, crispy batter and served with skinny fries. I had a side order of those same fries myself, and can attest that they were indeed good oven fries.
The House of Darrach could definitely pick up on a couple of things in the kitchen which would make their dishes a whole lot better, but they don’t have to worry about their portion sizes! Too full after consuming the enormous servings of, what was fairly decent, food, we never did get near those scrummy looking cakes. Maybe next time…