Editor's note: Geales closed in April 2021, or at least it did not reopen after the pandemic.
Geales was an old-fashioned fish and chip shop that had fallen into a rut, and in summer 2007 it had a change of ownership and a major makeover. Gary Hollihead is nominally the head chef here, though Gary is also head chef at Embassy, which makes him a busy boy. Tonight he was at neither restaurant.
The decor is simple and on this summer evening had several tables outside. Service was something of a shambles, with my order for a normal bottle of wine throwing the large brigade of waiters into a tizzy that took ages to resolve: "no wine yet?" was the sympathetic refrain of our waitress, yet it was surely her job to make sure it arrive rather than it being some sort of act of God. Eventually a bottle resembling ours arrived on the bar with two glasses and yet the waiters revolved around it for minutes as if it was invisible. Eventually I lent across and offered to pour it myself, which at least woke them up. The wine list itself was simple but appropriate to the fish menu that is on offer. The service did not improve later, with no idea who ordered what, the fish arriving out of synch with the accompaniments etc.
The menu is simple, with a few starters but emphasis on the fish and chips and a few other seafood dishes. A starter of "prawn cocktail" was really a dish of avocado prawns with mayonnaise, served in an absurd off-centre glass jar that some designer obviously thought a fine idea. The prawns themselves were cooked OK, the avocado ripe, but the mayonnaise was rather too rich, the dish too bland (11/20). Better was a soft shell crab, deep fried and served with a decent Thai sweet chilli sauce that was a suitable foil to the fattiness of the batter (12/20).
Haddock and chips (£9) was rather ordinary after all that, decent haddock in a batter that was not bad yet lacked seasoning and was paler than ideal (12/20). Chips were fairly good (13/20) but mushy peas had little taste (10/20) and tartare sauce was merely pleasant. A simple mixed herb salad with a pleasant dressing was in some ways the best element of the meal. There were a few token desserts but we skipped these. Overall it was an adequate experience, but you can get better fish and chips at the Fish Shop on St John Street or the Two Brothers or Toffs. They also need to sort out the circus that is the service here.