Friday 7 March 2014

Fish and Chip Shop, Islington

I can never think of anywhere to eat in the Islington area. When asked, my mind draws a complete blank. But in fact, there are (probably) hundreds of places with great food to sink your teeth into, and on Tuesday night for a quick bite before a gig, I found myself in The Fish & Chip Shop.

Located on the buzzing Upper Street, Fish and Chip Shop is the debut restaurant for a team run by owner Des McDonald, formerly of The Ivy. Only one guess as to what it serves, but this is in no way a rough and ready pit-stop like you might expect; it's a sophisticated-looking place with an impressive menu to match. 

Walking in you feel like you've stepped into some kind of time warp. The decor is part warehouse, part Victorian servants quarters, with chipping paint and aged photographs of fisherman pasted onto the walls. Even the stairs up to the (wait for it) Gills and Buoys toilets are stylishly battered and creaky. Inside the restaurant, there are more contemporary hints, with paintings of Bowie, Dylan, and even a portrait of all the 27 Club members. 

I love going to places when there's food on the menu I've never heard of, and this is why for starters, I convinced my boyfriend to share a plate of "London Particular Fritters" with me. As the waiter explained, these are a mix of ham hock and mushy peas, deep fried in breadcrumbs. "They're amazing", he said, but I didn't need convincing - he had me at "ham". You can have a plate of either 3 or 5, but as we were also having a half pint of prawns (I always have to when they're on the menu), the smaller plate was more than enough. Everything was light, fresh, and delicious. I also got to sneak a whitebait or two from my fellow diners, which were also extremely tasty.

Of course you can have you can have your bog standard fish and chips to follow, like the other three at my table had (when the haddock came it was hanging over the sides of the plate, and the bit of cod that I tried was lovely and meaty) but for me, it's the curious looking dishes that always draw my eye. I went for the shrimp burger, served with a spicy tartare and a brioche bun. I slightly feared the shrimp would be minced, but no - whole prawns had been compacted together into a patty, then breaded and fried. It was like eating a massive scampi! Again you could taste the freshness in every bite, and the marrowfat mushy peas were the best I've tasted.

You know a restaurant's really good when you can't wait to go back, and I already know what I'm eating ("soft shell crab butty"? Surely that HAS to be tried!). A hidden gem, though I'm sure not secret for long.

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