DRIVE WEST ON SUNSET TO THE SEA
Well not quite. More a schlep along the grotty Westbound Circle Line to Baker Street. Our mission: to erase the memory of our extremely nasty meal at Leon the previous evening and renew our search for decent Fish and Chips in London. So we made our way down Marylebone Lane coughing and spluttering (he had a bad chest, I had hayfever).
Marylebone Lane is an interesting street of the sort you will find all over London but which is easily missed by the casual visitor. It runs from Oxford Street to Marylebone High Street and is home to two pubs, a club (The Sohisticats), the Button Queen (for all your button needs), hairdressers, delis, greasy spoons, restaurants from all over the globe and our destination The Golden Hind.
But first we had to drink beer. The pubs on the high street are very missable especially on a Saturday evening so we essayed a pint in the Golden Eagle. A very local local – shame that my pint of Pride and HS’s pint of St. Austell's Tribute didn’t really come up to snuff. Our second choice of The Pontefract Castle was a lot worse – all loud PA, LCD screens and indifferent beer. So we quickly made our way to the restaurant. While HS secured a table I popped round to the local offy, Nicholas (this is Marylebone) to get the wine we had selected earlier.
The Golden Hind has been here since 1914 and the current occupiers are only the fifth family owners in those hundred years. They’re doing the place proud. As soon as we’d unwrapped the wine the owner had dispatched one of the waiters to open our wine and pour it. The menu is short so we quickly ordered and sat back and admired the art deco Bakelite fish fryer from F Ford of Halifax (sadly, non-functioning) while sipping a chilled Sancerre Rose.
First up was a selection of breaded, deep-fried starters: scampi tails, tender calamari strips and substantial cod fishcakes. All were superior to the chippy norm – the calamari were especially un-rubbery – and all the better for being fresh from the frier.
Whilst waiting for our next course we did a quick scan of the other patrons who were mostly locals although there was a visit by a gaggle of American tourists who had made reservations but left quickly as most of the party had an allergy to fish (handy tip for the unwary: it's a Fish and Chip shop).
Next up were the main events. Haddock fillet and chips for me, Plaice and chips for HS. The batter on my haddock was crisp and greaseless and had in the correct manner encased the fillet allowing it to steam, leaving firm chunks of fish. Excellent. Judging by favourable sounds from across the table the Plaice passed muster as well. The chips, too, were nicely cooked - slightly browned as oppose to the more common flabby white variety. Even the mushy peas were not a bad try for a southern F&C outfit. Accompaniments were some unnecessary but really rather good pickled Greek vegetables and some tartare sauce which seemed to be made from mayonnaise with some chopped up capers and pickled cucumbers (which is exactly what tartare sauce is).
Given the non-greasy nature of the food we managed to scoff a couple of bowls of pretty good ice cream for pud. And we were done.
This is exactly what good fish and chips should be but rarely is: a casual meal, cooked properly with good ingredients and reasonably priced. The BYO policy makes it even more attractive. We shall be returning.
Postscript. I had assumed that The Sophiticats was a club from the swinging 60’s where you would find the likes of Pete and Britt and Tel and Jean hanging out, but a quick google turned up the following:
“Sophisticats is an adult venue that hosts nude cabaret shows as well as cat girl table top dancing, live shows, drinks and a host of entertainment all in one venue. There are feline waitresses who serve cat snacks and drinks until 3am. On Saturday nights, men table dance for women.”
Who knew the good burghers of Marylebone were cat lovers ?