Not much survived a 2009 fire that ravaged the Sea Shell. Thankfully, its black and white checked marble floor endures, as does the affection and respect shown it by regulars and staff: ‘How did you hear about us?’ one waiter asked. Fellow diners, mainly older couples, were smartly dressed for their fish and chip supper. But then, with pale art deco-style surfaces, big colourful paintings and a tank of tropical fish, this is one posh chippy – and has prices to match.
Starters were of variable quality: a fish soup was weakly flavoured, yet whitebait were enjoyably large specimens with a robust crust. The batter on our cod (£14.95 with chips) was as delicate as the flesh was flaky, while panko-coated haddock came prickly with delicious spikes of the Japanese breadcrumb. Oil-free exteriors suggested expert frying. Mushy peas were deep green, and tartare sauce zinged with gherkins. Chips are ‘bottomless’ but we declined refills – they just didn’t seem fresh. Takeaways are much cheaper, though celeb-spotters should know that Bill Nighy usually eats in.