I've heard a lot of people claim that the phony war period between Christmas and New Year is a good time to visit restaurants. The reasoning goes that it being less busy in London getting a table is very easy and kitchens have more time to concentrate on the food after the Christmas rush. I've never been convinced of that myself. Whether it's the kitchen using up old ingredients in the absence of fresh deliveries, a skeleton crew of staff on duty or the pervading guilt in the air over the fact somewhere is being forced to stay open because you can't be bothered to cook. It just never feels quite right. However you do have to get out of the house and away from leftover turkey and other stodge. The obvious choice is Chinese but that's planned for Sunday lunchtime. It's Friday after Christmas you are in Notting Hill you have not got much in the fridge, the lovely wife and Baby G are hungry where do you go? Well as it's Friday fish and chips is a good option but the Seashells on Lisson Grove is sensibly shut. However the fact London is dead means that a trip to Kerbisher & Malt is a possibility, not something I'd readily undertaken on a normal Friday due to the scary traffic around there.
We phone up, they are open! Ten minutes later we are parking up, discovering we have no change for the meter, buy something at corner shop to get change and finally walk in. I've been wanting to try here for a while but put off by aforementioned traffic. My lovely wife has eaten at their Ealing outpost and pronounced it good so I had high hopes. Baby G being baby G wanted chips. It's not a big place, glass fronted rectangular dining space with a mixture of cafe style tables and one big shared table. At the back is the counter and behind that the kitchen. Not an open kitchen as such but in a very cool touch one of the photos on the wall is actually a screen showing a live feed from the kitchen. It was fairly quiet on entering but I noticed that a couple of tables were already reserved. The other tables taken up with local families doing as we were. We ordered the usual fish and chip dinner well except I didn't and that's where I went wrong. I usually have plaice, I always have since I was a kid. I had a brief flirtation with haddock when I was based up in Grimsby but it's always been plaice since. With it being holiday time I was worried about how fresh the fish was so I went for cod in matzo meal. The food came and the chips were great and they did a very nice take on the gherkin but sadly my fish was not in it's first flush of youth. It reminded me of some of the stuff we used to process at the factory in Grimsby. I should have had plaice serves me right.
Anyway my fish was disappointment but the others enjoyed theirs particularly baby G. We followed up our fish supper with a selection of artisan ice cream they sell in little tubs which were very nice. Dinner with a couple of drinks came to just under £40 which was about the same as the Seashell. We ate early but there was a regular stream of people coming in so I think their decision to be open was justified. I think I will give it another go now that the fish will be coming in regularly and I will stick to plaice. Their service was friendly and it's not trying to be too clever with the concept of fish & chips. Eating in is a nice option but not sure how much fun it would be if the small space was also full of takeaway customers. as for going out between Christmas and New Year I think I will stick to chinese as our subsequent meal at the Princess Garden of Mayfair was terrific
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Food 6 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8