NOT YOUR AVERAGE EAST END CHIPPY
The last time I headed out to Hackney’s Victoria Park, sorry, Hackney’s Victoria Park “Village” as it is now known was to have supper at The Empress of India. The average nature of the food and the above average nature of the bill meant I have never had cause to head back to that part of town.
That is, until last night, when HP sent me a text asking if I was up for trying a new fish & Chip place that had just opened up next to The Empress.
Well, of course, if it is Fish & Chips, you’re talking about, then I am always up for trying a new place. Even, if as is the case right now, I am recovering from probably the single worst chest infection that any human has ever had to endure and am wheezing like an 80 year old every time I have to walk more than ten feet.
The trouble with Hackney is that it is so painfully horrible to get to and usually really not worth it when you do. Finally, after a long wait for a bus and an even longer, wheezy walk at the end of it, we found ourselves outside Fish House, a modern looking chippy with black board menus, a large take away area and plenty of seating in the rear.
The service is incredibly cheery if a bit harried and while we waited for menus, we looked at the specials on the blackboard.
For those who are familiar with Fish Central in Islington or Back to Basics in Fitzrovia, then nothing on the menu here will come as must as a surprise. It all sounds good though and we shifted between Tempura squid and prawns and Chilli king prawns before deciding to start with grilled sardines and the old favourite, Prawn Cocktail.
Both solid enough without being spectacular. The sardines were meaty and fresh, though a small portion for about £7. The prawn cocktail was packed with prawns and dressing although any more salt and I would have had to push it aside.
For main courses, we ignored all the specials and went for Fish & Chips with mushy peas. true to our northern heritage, we went for haddock which came in, all inclusive at £8.50.
Now, I can just hear Northern friends squealing “£8.50!” “For Fish & Chips?” “come here, listen to this, down in London they pay £8.50 for Fish & Chips. You could buy enough for you’re your whole family for that up here” And, of course they are right.
But, by London standards, £8.50 represents perfectly decent value. Just as well they didn’t see how much the really rather rubbish new incarnation of Geales costs. They would probably tell me you could buy a car for that up North, and,again, they would probably be right.
Anyway, the plates arrived and looked suitably impressive with a steaming piece of fish on top of a mound of chips.
Better in the looking than in the eating if truth be told. HP’s piece was cooked to a perfect flake, but mine had sat too long and began to go mushy. The batter could have done with a little more crunch and there was a lingering aftertaste of oil about the whole thing which makes me question the frying temperature.
It was not bad, trust me I have had a lot worse, Faulkners and The Sea Shell to name but two, but I think they still have to get their technique right in the kitchen to bring this up to the levels of the London greats like Masters Superfish or The Golden Hind.
There are a few pudding offerings on the blackboard, but I don’t think there was ever going to be any other option but plates of mixed ice cream and sorbet when we saw them on the menu at £1.40 a scoop. Even more so when I saw that they came from Oddono’s that splendid Italian Gelato maker in South Kensington who also have a franchise in Selfridges.
Excellent they were too with a coconut sorbet and a cinnamon ice cream both lasting as long as a bottle of lube in a gay sauna.
With a beer and a bottle of something new world and not great, the bill came to £62 to which we added a tip for the lovely service which remained cheery as the place filled up and the take away lines grew. A lot to pay for Fish & Chips, but about fair value for a three course meal with wine these days.
They have only been open for about three weeks and, already, it is proving to be a hit with the locals. I would not say it is worth traipsing across to hackney for ( few things, if any are) but, if you are “lucky” enough to live in that part of town then it is worth popping in. It will certainly be better value than its regal neighbour