THE ROCK & SOLE PLAICE
You will all be delighted to know that I am back in Blighty and, although I have severely itchy feet and am already planning my next journey, I am going to make the most of being back in London for the next few months to feed fat on the things I have missed the most.
First of all, of course, to sample the one food item that I have craved above all others on my journey and where better to get my fix than from my own personal food hero, Mr Ian Hartland, purveyor of Mrs King’s Pork Pies? I came away with a prime specimen and also the good news that, from the 4th August, your humble pork pie will be a protected species. If it says Melton Mowbray on the pie, it will have to come from Melton Mowbray. About time.
Then on to satiate the next craving, Fish & Chips obviously. Even the quickest glance at Dos Hermanos will tell you that Fish & Chips are very important to us and that few weeks pass without us finding a new place to try. It seems odd then that one of the few chips shops we had not yet visited is also one of if not the oldest in London.
There has been a fish shop on Endell Street, close to Covent Garden, for over one hundred and forty years and The Rock & Sole Plaice has been there since just after WWII.
It’s a popular spot and, when I arrived a little before Midday, it was already filling with a mix of local suits, trendy ad men and, Japanese tourists who were all carrying an article from a newspaper in which it must have been mentioned.
It looks and smells the part too with fish cooked to order and none of that whiff of stale fat which marks out the also rans.
It’s a shame then that the end result was middling at best. Not bad, but not up there with the best in town. Haddock & Chips with mushy peas was substantial enough for me not to have to worry about supper, but the standard size fish was slightly miserly. The batter on top was crisp, but the sometimes Southern habit of leaving the skin on meant that the underside had already become soggy by the time it hit my table and the chips were flaccid and floury benefitting from a good glug of non-brewed condiment. Don't we all?
£13 inc tip with a cup of tea is not cheap, but probably reflects their rent. The fact there was not a spare seat in the place by the time I left reflects the lack of any other decent chip shop in The West End rather than any quality which would give cause to mention it in the same breath as Master’s Superfish of The Golden Hind.
There will be more Fish & Chip shops before I head off again I am sure and hopefully better than this. I am also sure that there will be more pork pies, but none will be better than those provided by my friend, Ian Hartland.