I walked alone down the miracle mile
I met my baby by the shine of the martyr
West Hampstead is a pleasant, leafy burb in the North of London. I know it’s a burb because there are litter bins on the platform of West Hampstead station – tube stations haven’t had bins since the Eighties during the time of the IRA mainland bombing campaign.
The main drag is chock full of eateries and delis and coffee shops but go a little bit further up the Fortune Green Road and you come to Nautilus Fish Restaurant, something of a fixture in the area for almost sixty years.
The current Greek owners have only been in residence for a few of those and have refurbished the place, luckily in a sympathetic style that befits an old chippie: Formica is king here. Service is gentle and especially suited for when you’ve suffering from lack of sleep and a bit of a hangover like I was.
First dish up was some pitta and a dish of taramasalata which like the tarama of old came a fetching shade of pink. It was actually quite nice and did the job, along with the warm bread, of settling my stomach.
North West London is a big Jewish area so it was no surprise that fish comes fried in Matzo meal. I went for the fillet of Haddock along with the extra option of an egg dip which entails some extra preparation but is supposed to be the best option. And so it proved.
This was only the second time I’d had my fish cooked in Matzo and I was a bit worried about how it would turn out. I needn’t have though – these guys are experts - my large Haddock came enclosed in a crispy case. Like my fish at The Ark a few weekends ago the fish inside was cooked perfectly. It was cooked with the skin on which meant you couldn’t eat the matzo on the underside but it really didn’t matter with fish as good as this.
Chips were hot and crunchy but had that very old-fashioned pale colour which I think is due to some sort of bleaching agent used. Peas and Pickled Onion were unmemorable. Tea was builders and hit the spot. Sweet was out of the question.
You get the impression that, irrespective of its owners, Nautilus has just been quietly getting on, doing its thing, oblivious to the fads and fashions of the world outside its doors. I do hope it stays that way.