The Fish and Chip Shop City
Don’t be put off by the name, for this is no normal chippy. Des McDonald, head chef at the Ivy in his younger years, and now successful restaurant owner himself (he also owns Q Grill, the Holborn Dining Room and recently did a collaboration with Selfridges to launch a very successful On the Roof with Q ‘pop up’) is expanding his restaurant empire, but sticking to a British classic this time.
His newest venture is a Liverpool Street based restaurant where you can have ‘posh fish & chips’. This is his second Fish & Chip Shop, his first one opening in 2013 in Islington, and doing unsurprisingly well (A.A Gill swears by it for his dose of battered fish).
I took five friends along for the soft launch on Monday; and upon walking in after a long and rainy day, felt my mood lift instantly. The decor, by Box 9 Design, is a far cry from a local chippy, but has a distinct British feel to it. Expect olive green leather booths, duck egg blue panelling, a round bar in the middle of the restaurant and a seaside theme throughout.
The good thing about going with a few people, is that you can try multiple dishes without looking too greedy. The problem was, once we heard the special of the day (Lemon sole cooked in brown butter with samphire), we all wanted it. It took some restraint (and some bossing around from me) to choose other dishes too – and there were plenty of tempting options.
The starters are all equally alluring, but in the end we opted for the spiced tuna, the scallops with cauliflower and raisins, the prawn cocktail and the baked cornish cock crab (which is really a main). The tuna had a great kick to it, the scallops melted in your mouth and the prawn cocktail was hogged by one of the girls so I never tasted it. But it was the crab that needs a special mention. I’m not really a fan of crab, but had never (nor had the others) eaten it cooked like this. Baked, with bread crumbs on top and served with baguette for dipping, this was effectively a ‘crab fondue’, and it was divine.
For the mains we did of course try the ‘Fish & Chips’ – (Camden) beer battered haddock with thickly cut chips and delightful mushy peas. And it tasted so good. The Scottish scampi tails and plaice goujons were good too, as we the spicy tiger prawns. The lemon sole was beautifully cooked, with a light layer of bread crumbs and plenty of flavour, without it being overpowering.
Their house wine went down a treat too (at £21 more than reasonably priced).
The staff were attentive, friendly and keen to hear ways to improve. Our one criticism was that the loo door didn’t shut properly. I couldn’t fault the food apart from the fact that I felt very full walking home in the rain. It is clear that everything Des touches turns to gold, so I look forward to his next venture…
69 Old Broad Street
(Dashwood House is slightly set back from Old Broad Street. Walk all the way around Dashwood House to find the restaurant, as it’s round the back)