NORTH SEA FISH: BATTERING IT OLD SCHOOL IN BLOOMSBURY
Another in an irregular series of posts in which DH head off in search of “The Best Fish & Chips in London™” We know how you all look forward to these moments so very much.
Tonight, another favourite of cabbies everywhere. North Sea Fish in Bloomsbury. It has been around for as long as I have been in London and a good deal longer, I am sure and it has worked its way on to the tourist radar with listings in a lot of the guide books.
Consequently, by the time we arrived for supper, the room was, as HP had anticipated, already filling up with Americans who almost all seemed to be sour faced academics attending a conference at the nearby University of London HQ.
Despite the loud twittering of the clientele about such matters of import as tenure, the service was probably the friendliest I can recall in London for, well just about as long as I can remember. They moved a few tables around to accommodate us and almost before we had time to sit down and look at the menu, HP had a beer in front of him and I was chugging down the first of two smashing cups of piping hot tea. Service with a broad smile, what a novelty. It could catch on.
If I had not had service this friendly for a long time, I had certainly had not had a starter like the prawn cocktail we were served since 1974. Thawed out prawns on a bit of lettuce with a blob of Marie Rose from a bottle and a couple of slices of brown bread and spread. Of course it was no good, but I kind of liked it. It reminded me of being a child and being taken to a Berni Inn.
The starter though, was just to stop the stomach grumbling until we had the main event. Two “jumbo” battered fillets of Haddock with chips, mushy peas and house made pickled onions. You can also order the fish grilled or in matzo meal, but why would you?
The fish was indeed, as advertised huge and flopped pleasingly over the side of the plate. The batter was a little thin but crispy. At the edges the fish was slightly overcooked but on the whole cooked to a perfect flake. The chips were fantastic, beautiful and crisp, freshly cooked and floury inside. We dipped them enthusiastically into the home made tartare sauce that the smiley staff had plopped on the table at the beginning of the meal.
The picked onions were good too. Not up to the primo examples of those at Masters Superfish, but crunchy and sharp enough to scare the tourists.
They have things like home-made apple crumble and a sherry trifle on the menu, but you would have to be better men than us to contemplate it, even if you finished what was on your plate. That, as they like to say in American sporting parlance, is " a big ask"
With drinks and service, the bill came to £45, which is average for “sit down” fish and chips in a London chippie.
I have been told to stop making a comparison with fish & chips up North. The simple reason being that, with one or two exceptions, most examples of the art offered in London would be thrown back in your face if you served them anywhere North of Watford. So, you really have to judge them against each other rather than their natural superiors. Like comparing Leyton Orient to Brentford rather than to Chelsea.
On that basis, North Sea comes out quite well. Behind The Golden Hind and Masters Superfish and on the same sort of level as Seafresh in Victoria. Definitely worth a try if the fish & chip urge hits you when you are in Bloomsbury.