There are restaurants you go to for the food, and restaurants you go to for a good time. Fish and Chip Shop is one of the latter. It’s the solo venture of Des McDonald, who was once head chef at The Ivy before rising through the ranks to become CEO of Caprice Holdings (J Sheekey, Scott’s, and so on). Suffice to say, he knows a thing or two about fish. So we were a little surprised that our meal didn’t make a bigger splash.
It started well. Plump and sweet, the prawns in our ‘cocktail’ lounged on a pile of posh greens (pea shoots and the like) with a light, tangy marie rose sauce. Dessert shone too: a raspberry knickerbocker glory achieving that harmonious balance of sweet, tart and texture.
In between though, the boat rocked. Our haddock, battered in Beavertown ale, was beautifully moist but woefully underseasoned. A shrimp burger again showed off terrific sourcing, but the promised ‘spicy tartare’ was too meek.
Halfway through service, a chef rushed through the restaurant with a box full of emergency potatoes. One bounced to the floor and under the nearest table, as if making a bid for freedom. It clearly knew its fate: to be an unexceptional chip, lacking in either crunchy outer or fluffy middle. But if it’s buzz you’re after, you’re in the right place. The restaurant combines the buffed vintage styling of the J Sheekey Oyster Bar with the loud music and casual affections (T-shirted staff; wine served in tumblers) of Polpo. This is not a place for seafood connoisseurs. It’s for a good-looking, high-living crowd, all having a helluva time.