FISHHOOK: ON THE LINE WAY OUT WEST
" A fish restaurant? On a Monday night? In Chiswick?"
Not the most promising offer of supper I have ever had and my mood was on the gloomy side as I squeezed my ample frame onto the tube and headed West. I couldn't help thinking " I don't go this far for my holidays"
It really is a different world once you step outside the safe enclaves of London's fashionable SOSHO. People are strange, more pasty looking and frankly, quite scary. The further West you go the more frightening it gets. So, you can imagine, by the time I got to Chiswick I was almost a quivering wreck.
It takes a lot for me do an "across the Andes by frog" expedition these days, but supper with my good chum Nick is one of them. Fish Hook was his suggestion.
I recalled it vaguely from when it opened a few years ago as Fish Hoek where the schtick was offering a wide variety of fish from South Africa. Well, unsurprisingly that idea failed to fly among the good denizens of nowheresville and, about, a year ago, it changed hands.
The new chef is the young but vastly experienced Michael Nadra whose list of previous experience could serve as a " who's who" of UK kitchens with Petrus, Chez Bruce, La Trompette and The Ebury being just a few
And it shows. For, although this is a small, unassuming neighbourhood joint. It has the overriding sheen of a true professional.
The menu is small and, bar one offering for the piscophobic, comprised entirely of fish and seafood ( the name is a bit of a giveaway )
After a small glass of champagne to kick things off I dragged Nick kicking and screaming into the Dos Hermanos " three starter" hell and her ordered a fish soup with shrimps, clams, octopus, mussels and other bits and pieces. I did not try it but Nick acclaimed it the best he had eaten in a long while which is a lot to say for a man who spends as much time as he can in France.
My starter was not up to that but still pretty good. A crisp Mahi Mahi tempura with a daikon salad and salmon "caviar"
Best of all though was a small tray of frog's Legs which had been sauteed with butter, parsley and plentiful amounts of garlic. One of those old school dishes that never fails to please and, as Nick and I decided a long time ago that we were never going to end our evenings with a tender snog, I was free to ask for a spoon to ladle the sauce into my waiting mush.
It was good to see some more of the more unusual suspects on the main course list and Nick chose wild brill with potato gnocchi, ceps, roasted jerusalem artichokes and parsley. Again, Nick seemed to enjoy and was sorry he had chosen the smaller portion rather than a proper main course.
I plumped for Pollack. Can't recall the last time I saw that on a list. This time it was a decent chunk, crisped beautifully on top but with flaky flesh with just a little bite. The sign of someone who knows how to cook fish. The casserole of mussels and squid with chorizo with it was less successful but not a bad dish at all
After the recent "salt fest" at Anthony's in Leeds the other day, it was good to see a chef who was so capable with his seasoning. Not timid and yet not abusive. Everything was just spot on
As indeed, were two plates of Greek yoghurt and wild honey sorbet which came with two small glasses of dark grappa to pour over. A nice way to finish a simple meal.
I was being treated which was, er a treat so I have no idea what the bill came to. I do know that whatever was added on for service by them or by Nick was well deserved and it also included a well priced bottle of gruner.
The journey back was the stuff of nightmares as the tube was packed with young folk in badly fitting clothes hurtling East to Farringdon to be part of the Fabric experience.
Despite that, I can almost imagine myself suffering through this round trip again to sample some of Michael Nadra's cooking and that should tell you all you need to know.
Other chefs are, I am sure, jealous of Michael's track record. In fact I bet his CV could Turnham Green
See what I did there?