Those of you have read my blog for a while will know that I’m a sucker for Italian food, particularly when it’s served in Italy. It’s not that I’m snobbish about my destination at all, but I think there’s often something missing from the dishes in Italian restaurants that you find anywhere else. It’s a bit of a problem considering that when I eat out in Scotland, I usually choose restaurants in Loch Lomond. Maybe it’s something in the air or just the fact I love visiting their wonderful boot-shaped country, I’m not sure. So discovering an Italian restaurant that actually serves great food exactly three streets away from me is positively fantastico!
Cucina is a tiny little restaurant sitting opposite a local nightclub, and just minutes away from attractions like Lomond Shores shopping complex and The Maid of the Loch. It’s on Balloch Road, the main street through the village, and pretty easy to find. For me, it was one of those places I kept saying ‘I must go in there one day’ about, and when I finally did I could have kicked myself for not going in sooner.
Inside, it’s very well decorated and modern, with a long mirror giving the welcome impression that it’s somehow larger than it is, and with a menu that’s as authentically Italian as you expect to get in Scotland. Sure, it’s still missing that real Italian ambiance. There aren’t any dusty wine carafes stuffed with dripping candles in the centre of the tables here, not like you get in any decent back-street trattoria in Venice. And none of their expensive faux-leather chairs wobble on an uneven Italian tiled floor while you’re trying to cut your carni, but this tiny restaurant in Loch Lomond is good nevertheless.
They’ve kept the menu simple and stuck to the classics, doing them really well – ariabiatta, lasagne and my favourite, Gamberetti Olio Rucola (king prawns in garlic and rocket). They have a nice selection of wines, all carefully chosen and obviously Italian, and some excellent set menus to take the hassle out of choosing.
If you want to get a table here over a weekend then I have to recommend that you book in advance. You see, the secret is out about this little Italian restaurant in Loch Lomond, so getting a table here means you might have competition on your hands.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out some of our other luxury travel ideas here.
Part of the Devere Group of hotels, Cameron House is one of those iconic locations that attracts travellers from around the world, keen to enjoy not only its sumptuous facilities, but also the stunning surroundings of Loch Lomond. And as you might expect, a hotel of this standard doesn’t let itself down when it comes to its dining options either. With no fewer than five bars and restaurants, you could dine differently every day of your stay here.
The Boathouse is likely the least well known of the restaurants, partly because it’s not attached to the hotel itself. It’s one of those intimate places that guests who are ‘in the know’ tend to head for, tucked away at the marina and edging onto the hotel’s private golf course. It’s a small bolthole – a relaxed open-plan space where good food is served by friendly staff throughout the day.
The menu here is not extensive, but it is eclectic and there doesn’t seem to be a particular theme. You can go All-American with a burger the size of a large baked potato and wedge-cut chips that are to die for, go Spanish with a paella that showcases Scotland’s freshest seafood, or experience Italian with a penne pesto pasta dish with fresh parmesan cheese. In most restaurants, that amount of choice would lead to an element of brand confusion, but here it actually works – the menu may be short, but it’s carefully chosen, and I’ve never yet visited with a guest that hasn’t been able to find something they like to eat.
If the weather is favourable then outside dining is an option as well. The terrace is gently lit at night, and the view extends over the small marina and its jetty’s, complete with an array of yachts and cruisers, to Lomond Shores at the foot of the Loch.
The Boathouse at Cameron House is one of the best kept secrets on the banks of Loch Lomond, but I’m happy to get the word out there just so more discerning diners can enjoy what it has to offer. And for members of the Devere club, you also enjoy a discount off your final bill, which was 20% the last time I looked.