I love a good pun, so a fish and chip shop with a name like this starts in my good books. I had been herring about this chippie since it opened in May 2016. It claims to have all its fish delivered from Cornwall, each traceable to the boat and fisherman that caught it (presumably they read the chipping news), with no more than 48 hours elapsing from the sea to the plate. The dining room is quite small, with slightly uncomfortable chairs, which rather take their toll as you trawl through the menu. There is a further dining area in the garden at the back of the property, at least in good weather. On this warm night it looked very appealing, especially when perched on one of the hard chairs in the dining room. The restaurant opens every day of the week barramundi.
The head chef is Graham Grafton, who previously was executive chef for seven years at the Barnsley House in Gloucestershire. Further back in his career Graham worked at some serious London restaurants including Chez Bruce and Bibendum as sous chef, and The Greenhouse as head chef for two years. He was not in tonight, and a gentleman called Olaf was in charge instead, who seemed to be a dab hand with the deep fat fryer.
There was a short and fairly basic wine list of a dozen labels, ranging in price from £19 to £40, with a median price of £26.50. Examples were Robertson Merlot at £20 for a bottle that you can find in a wine shop for about £6, and Dezzani Costa Mezzana at £28 for a bottle that retails at around £12. Corkage was available at £19 a bottle. The list clammed up when it came to noting the vintages of the wines, however. There are no stemmed wine glasses here, just tumblers, though given that they can manage a decent glass for fizz I am not quite sure why that is.
Salmon fishcake had a crisp exterior and a generous filling of salmon from Loch Duart (12/20). Salt and pepper squid with Asian coleslaw was, not to skate around the issue, a mixed bag. The squid itself, which can so easily be rubbery, was fine, and the batter was crisp, showing that the accurate frying of the salmon was no fluke. The coleslaw let the dish down, being limp in texture; although there was some vaguely soy taste it was far from the vibrant blend of distinct Asian spices I had hoped for, though overall the dish was not a turtle disaster (12/20 average).
Scampi had quite large langoustine tails, cooked capably enough in the same non-greasy batter (12/20). Haddock and chips had pleasant tasting fish in reasonably crisp batter. This was fine (12/20) though I still long for the days when Simon Hopkinson made perfect fish and chips at Bibendum in years gone by. After that benchmark had been set, every other dish of fish and chips I taste seems mildly disappointing. Even the best chip shop in Whitby, The Quayside, was not in that league, and so perhaps I am now looking fruitlessly for something unobtainable. The fish and chips here were good but not brill.
Chips were triple cooked in beef dripping. Ever since I first ate triple cooked chips at The Fat Duck I have been convinced that this is the best method of making chips; these were reasonable but not remotely in that league, cooked through properly though they could have been even crisper on the outside (13/20). Tartare sauce (charged extra at £1.50) was made from scratch and was suitably sharp and creamy. Minted pea puree (£2) was also fine, different from traditional mushy peas but none the worse for that. A “wally” i.e. a pickled gherkin (£1) was exceedingly astringent, a bit too much so to my taste.
Apple pie was made in the kitchen from scratch (including the pastry) and used a mix of Bramley and Braeburn apples, served with vanilla ice cream bought in from Ice Cream Union in south east London. The pastry was fine and although the filling was rather mushy it had a reasonable level of acidity (13/20). Coffee came from a Nespresso machine, but if you prefer they will make you a cup of char.
Service was friendly, and the bill came to £40 a head including corkage, or at least it did once some extraneous items had been removed from the bill initially presented. Overall I quite liked the Chipping Forecast, and it is certainly a step up from my local chippie if I mullet over. This plaice won’t change your life, but I like the way that they are trying to use sustainably caught fish, and the atmosphere was relaxed and welcoming.. The cooking may be a little better when the head chef is in the kitchen, or perhaps not, but the coleslaw was the sole outright error. I would certainly be happy to go back, especially if I lived nearby. The only issue is the size of the bill, which quickly mounts up due to the separate charges for, well, pretty much everything, even the tartare sauce. Still, if I lived nearby and fancied some comfort food then I would seize the day and pop in for some fish, or perhaps as I should say: “Carp Diem”.