Posted on Friday, 8th May 2015
The Fish & Chips Shop by Des McDonald, with locations in Islington and The City, is a posh modern day neighbourhood fish & chip shop that takes pride in serving fresh sustainable fish. Fish and chips takes pride of place as the signature dish, and is cooked using Des McDonald’s own special batter recipe made with Camden beer and served with hand cut chips. But The Fish and Chips Shop doesn’t just serve ‘posh fish and chips’. Instead diners can also select from a range of raw bar items such as rock oysters and Atlantic prawns. There are also a variety of starters such as crab on toast with spiced avocado, and mains such as Scottish mussels marinière and Cornish monkfish vindaloo. Diners can also chose to have their fish served grilled, steamed or breaded.
Des McDonald is a man who knows his food well. Previously a Head Chef at The Ivy, Des later went on to become the group chief executive of Birley Group, Caprice Holdings, and Soho House, before eventually forming his own restaurant group, Des McDonald Restaurants etc. Des is also the restaurateur behind Holborn Dining Room, a restaurant styled in the essence of a grand brasserie. With The Fish & Chips Shop by Des McDonald, the city restaurant resembles a traditional British café, drawing on the use of salvaged timber, duck egg blue panelling and burgundy-glazed tiles. Key to its design is a rectangular bar where one can find a wide range of bottle and draft beers as well as a variety of cocktails. The wine list at The Fish & Chips Shop by Des McDonald features a variety of reds, whites and roses including some of Des McDonald’s own blended wines.
Our first course was the crumbed scampi tails (£11.50) which were wonderfully crunchy, with the coating not only helping to seal in the juiciness of the scampi, but contrasting well with the softness of the flesh. These came with a homemade tartar sauce which was zingy and creamy.
We didn’t go for the traditional battered fish and chips, but instead opted for the grilled cod with parsley sauce (£16). The cod flaked nicely and was moist and flavoursome. The parsley sauce, made using a fish veloute, a touch of cream and lots of freshly chopped parsley was lovely and fragrant. At the base of the dish was a glorious mashed potato. The potato had been passed twice and then mixed with a generous amount of butter. It was really delicious and additively buttery and smooth.
Paper baked bass (£15) had been baked with tomatoes, lemon and a coating of parsley and oregano. The fish was tasty and the herbs added a fragrant and lively quality to the fish. The dish was a little dry however, and a slightly shorter cooking time might have served to avoid this.
We adored the sides, particularly the truffle salt chips (£4.50). These were crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, with its flavour being further enhanced by the aromatic truffle shavings. The seasonal asparagus (a starter which we chose to have as a side) was well cooked with a slight crunchiness. Accompanying the asparagus was a tasty hollandaise sauce with just the right amount of tanginess.
Desserts of chocolate and toffee sundae (£5.50) and apple and walnut crumble (£5.50) were both pleasant on the palate. The sundae was generously filled with ice cream and a lovely toffee sauce, but I would have preferred some crunchiness, eg nuts, for an added texture. The crumble as a whole was warm and soothing and well balanced between sweetness and acidity, although the apple filling was a little too mushy. The walnuts were a nice addition to the crumble.
The food at The Fish & Chips Shop by Des McDonald was to be applauded. The menu was simply and unfussy, and yet wonderfully delicious, with each element being cooked with care and attention. When you have a wonderfully cooked piece of fish accompanied by a tasty parsley sauce and a fabulous mashed potato coming together and tasting great, it just shows that uncomplicated food can still be delicious. The service was relaxed, yet professional. The Fish and Chips Shop is a great little outfit.
1) The cod dish, especially with the fabulous mashed potatoes.
2) The truffle chips.
1) The desserts were perhaps the weakest link.
Food rating: 3.75/5
Service rating: 3.5/5
Prices: £26 to £39 for three courses and a side, excludes drinks and service.