THE FISH SHOP ON ST JOHN ST: SURF AND TURF WARS
London is at war and Londoners are under seige.
Not from terrorists although this new danger fills me with horror, but from distributors of free newspapers.
We are in the middle of the biggest turf war since someone suggested to Al Capone that short, fat and syphilitic was no way to go through life and, it is getting ugly.
Yesterday, walking home without a care in the world I was accosted by at least three different distributors all offering a new free evening rag. The London Lite, The London Paper and another one which was probably called " London Better Than Lite or Paper" They were swarming everywhere like the leprous round a faith healer.
The Evening Standard is obviously not taking any of this laying down and had posted its largest, ugliest and most burly looking vendors. They were shouting out " don't take those free pieces of crap, buy a real paper" with increasing desperation.
It was all quite alarming and, by the time I got home, I was quite out of sorts and had to don a pill box hat, perch a pair of pince nez on my conk and flop on a chaise while reading Milton. Actually, I did no such thing, but I have always liked the idea of it since reading Dorian Gray.
Anyway, HP and I had pondered on a light supper a fancied a bit of fish. We had not been to The Fish Shop On St John St for some time so it was probably time to pay it another visit.
A swift one in the Seckforde Arms first made sure that we arrived just as the pre ballet crowd were head off to Sadler's Wells to watch people pretending to be trees or something and we were able to do a walk in and get a very nice table by the window.
As has become our habit, we ordered three starters. HP began with 1/2 a dozen Fin de claires oysters which he announced were the best he has had this year. All well and good but since oysters and I get on like the leads in " Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" I did not try them. My starter was not at that level, but a grilled mackerel on a beetroot salad was solid enough and very fresh. I rather liked our shared starter of taramasalata with sourdough toast although HP declared it " long on salata and short on tarama"
I was going to be good and have a bit of roasted cod with some steamed vegetables for my main course, but, thank God it was off so I go to join HP in a huge chunk of fried fish. For him, Haddock which was fresh and perfectly cooked. For me, Plaice which I preferred but he dismissed as "fish and chips for girls"
Chips were more restuaranty than chippy so I left most of them. The ones I did try, I used to spoon gargantuan portions of a fine tartare sauce into my eager mush.
What we did not touch, or barely, were the mushy peas which were disgusting and we told them. A green sludge of pureed peas with the texture of baby food. Quite horrible.
The portions of fish were huge, very very fresh and with a suitably crunchy batter. Again, HP was slightly critical saying they were fish & Chips cooked by an excellent chef but someone who did not quite understand the spirit of a true chippy. What he meant, of course, was that there were not fried in the fat of a dead animal. He is right to an extent but they were still pretty good.
I did not bother with pud or coffee. It will be little surprise that HP had both ice cream (damson one) and coffee met with approval as did a bill of £80 for two including service and a bottle of, oh so fashionable, Picpoul for £20.
It was packed again by the time we left, so this is obviously a little neighbourhood place that has truly found its groove. Very fresh, well prepared food for two distinctly different sets of clientele served efficiently and in a friendly manner for an agreeable price.
It is probably doing so well right now they don't need to advertise. Shame really. With all these bloody free sheets around, they would get a great deal.