Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Fish & Chip Shop: off the scale

Good, but at these prices I want battered whale.



I've already written a Fish & Chip Shop review. They send you an email asking for your thoughts the very next day. In fact, they are very up on technology: you can book online and get a text straight away; the waiters all have iPads (more on that later); and their pricing is years ahead of 2013. By which I mean they must be predicting some pretty wild inflation, because I've never paid £70 in a fish and chip shop before.


But then I've also never had such good fish and chips – except the one time I cooked them myself with spectacular results (see my instagram). The beer batter, made with Beavertown beer was light and crispy, the fish white as snow and fresh, and the mushy peas absolutely perfect, with just a hint of mint and lemon and a lovely skinless texture. The dish of the day, though, was starter – called "fried particulars" – which were, bafflingly, deep-fried mushy peas with soft ham hock in the middle. Only three came but I would have happily chomped through ten of them. Special praise should also go to the Knickerbocker glory dessert, which was as retro and ridiculous as I'd hoped.

So it was all pretty brilliant. But was it worth £70? God no. For £13.50 my partner got a lovely fish curry, but barely a fillet's worth of fish, and my cod was by no means a Moby Dick. The whole movement of cutesy comfort food, done simply and done well relies on reasonable prices because the cooking skill required is low. It's all about ingredients. When you look at MEATliquor, Chicken Shop et al they all seem to have agreed to keep prices low –  a memo the Fish & Chip shop never received. Perhaps Des McDonald and head chef Lee Bull are too used to charging Ivy pricing, but it's more likely that finding sustainable cod is harder than beef, but that just made me realise how disappointingly mainstream the fish selection was.

To be fair, we had three courses (although we shared our Knickerbocker Glory). But for fish, chips and mushy peas, you'd be slightly peeved to pay £14.50, especially at the absolute polar ice-cap of Upper Street. It's £11.50 to take away, so where that extra three pounds comes from is a mystery given that they can cash in on drinks and stick a 12.5% for service charge on top of that to eat in. And the service. Oh God. Despite making a huge show and dance of their iPads, they forgot my beer twice before bringing the wrong one; gave us extra asparagus by accident, said it was for free and then charged us for it; and brought extra chips at the main course by accident too. Apparently the chef "misheard the waiter", which made me wonder what the point of the iPads were.

I'll send them my review via my iPad and see if they get the message.



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