REVIEW: THE EASY FISH CO.
When friends suggested that we had our ‘cuisine club’ night at a fish restaurant, I wasn’t overly keen on the idea. I’m not a massive fan of seeing fish heads and having to pick out bones either. I always find it’s a big faff; I’d rather shovel it down my gullet without having to be careful about choking on tiny bones.
The Easy Fish Co. was described to me as fishmongers by day and a restaurant by night; this caught my attention, an unusual hybrid of two. I had to find out what the hype was all about. The restaurant is independently run by a fourth generation fishing family, which is always a hit in my books and has a history of more than 120 years of fish trade experience. I was more than expecting them to know their stuff about the creatures that live in the dark blue.
Upon arriving from the outside, you could clearly tell it was a fishmonger during the day. However, the crushed ice had long melted away from the counters and was gleaming clean awaiting the next day’s delivery of fresh fish. I was expecting it to smell like a fishmonger, but no this was masked by the mouth-watering aromas coming from the kitchen at the rear. We followed our noses and were seated by the friendly staff not too far from the busy kitchen. Some people would generally be put off being seated so close, but not me. I love to watch chefs busy creating their masterpieces. I was somewhat in awe of them, wishing I could throw something together as half as good as these guys could!
Ordering was the really hard part. Not being very well-educated in the fish department, I wanted to be adventurous and try things that I wouldn’t necessarily contemplate having on my plate. Fortunately for me, I had the fiancé at hand, meaning I could have a self-selected mini tasting plateau. Usually, it means I get to pick two starters, two mains and of course two desserts! This is exactly what we did.
To start, I ordered the salted cod croquettes. My heart instantly skipped a beat when I saw this on the menu. The one thing I remember about primary school dinners was the croquette potatoes, unlike any normal child I loved school dinners especially the croquettes, the obvious choice was the croquettes. And for the fiancé, I gave him a very little scope of choice, but to pick the Thai Prawn Soup and King Tiger prawns with drizzled chilli and garlic sauce. So yes we had three starters between us this time.
The croquettes were delicious! Let’s be honest I was always going to be biased, however, I can say with my hand on my heart that I’ve never had them taste this good before. The spice and smokiness from the chorizo and the tender sweetness from the sautéed apple were a match made in heaven. I can still imagine the taste of the combination now, definitely one for my smell and taste bank.
The King Tiger prawns were as juicy and meaty as you could possibly want and the only downside to this dish was only getting four of these delightfully tasty sea crustaceans. Now I’m always honest in my reviews and unfortunately, the soup fell down next to the two prize-winning dishes, we were left feeling rather underwhelmed by the soup. I am a firm believer that soups, along with seafood cocktail belong at dinner parties in the 80’s as an easy dish for cooking novices.
After two out of the three starters hitting the outstanding button, we were eagerly awaiting our main course. The wait seemed like a million years, but in fact, it was only a short time before the main courses arrived. Even though we were a large group I do have to say that they managed the service very well. The main dish that I’d selected was the tempura soft shell crab, something that I’ve never really thought about as a main. This time I allowed my fiancé choose his main. On a whim he decided to be adventurous and go for the mussels in wine broth, neither of us has ever tried muscles before so we were taking a gamble.
The gamble paid off, the muscles were first class and a marker to which all other muscles will be judged. They were wonderfully cooked and in a silky broth, that to the taste was pure ecstasy. The crab was a good choice after having a varied collection of starters, it was a light and airy affair. The crab (shell and legs) wrapped in a golden tempura were pleasing to the eye as well as on the palate. The crab had been dunked into the batter and come out still looking like a whole crab. It was genuinely wonderful to see this unusual sight on your plate, thank God the outer shell and eyes had been removed otherwise I think I’d have a different opinion. The delicate crab inside the crunchy tempura was perfectly cooked and was full of flavour, I couldn’t have a bad word said about the dish. Handy tip if you order the crab make sure you choose a side otherwise you’ll be disappointed, luckily my eyes are bigger than my belly and I had.
Even before arriving at the restaurant I was thinking about dessert, that’s nothing unusual, I need to satisfy my sweet tooth after a large meal. I was really struggling to imagine what dessert you could have that would complement fish dishes. I didn’t have to think very hard, but my best guess was something salted. Sure enough, it was chocolate salted caramel pie! DELICIOUS is the only word I could possibly use to describe it.
My belly was fit to bursting, not in an uncomfortable way but in a way that says ‘Yes you’ve had a jolly good meal and you won’t be sneaking a look into the fridge as soon as you get home.’ Regardless that the Cuisine Club was there I really enjoyed the night in its entirety. For someone who would usually run a mile at the mention of going to an exclusively fish only restaurant, I was rather impressed by the choices that were on offer. A message for the fish dish avoiders; if you’re feeling daring I would strongly urge you to give this restaurant a go, even if you do turn into a wet salmon at the last-minute, the Easy Fish Co vegan dishes are wonderfully tasty as a backup!
Jamie Carter | @NomadicFox