Tag Archives: fish and chips

Fish and Chips

I haven’t had much luck writing today – just the same dull drivel as I normally churn out on a Sunday. Washing, shopping, sleeping…

Even I felt bored. So, continuing from the last set of photos, I decided that fish and chips was what we needed, particularly as I lost out earlier in the week.

If you want more information on fish and chips the link has plenty of it. You can tell it’s a big part of British life from the number of times I have pictures of fish and chips.

They are a good subject – appetising, well lit and not prone to move suddenly or fly away.

 

Harvester – Review

Here it is, my first food review of the year. The target is to visit 100 tearooms in 365 days, but I’ve decided to review all the places I eat out to ensure we hit target. I’m hoping that it will also prevent me eating out too much, but I fear this may be a doomed hope.

We had to take Number One Son to the airport and Julia suggested eating on the way. Harvester in Wilford was conveniently placed so we tried there. It’s usually passable and often quite good. It provides free salad, fresh bread rolls and last time we went they had a special lunchtime offer.

Well, the offer is over, the bread roll baskets were empty and the salad looked like it had passed peak freshness several days previously.

Very disappointing.

The worst bit was when I ordered cod and chips.

“We don’t have any batter, but we can do you plain grilled cod.”said the server.

Because, of course, beautifully battered, golden, gleaming cod is very much the same as dull, dry, boring, grilled fish. (Please note that I’m being sarcastic here.) Frankly, I’d rather have a slice of grilled carpet.

Hake and Chips in Cromer

These are the fish and chips from Fish and Chips at Cromer. Just reminding you, and any passing Harvester employees, what they should be serving. Unsurprisingly, I have no pictures of plain grilled fish. There will be plenty of time for grilled fish when I’m in a care home and can’t find my teeth.

Did you know you can have your false teeth made with your name on so that you don’t lose them in homes or hospitals? One of our customers told me this as he makes them. You machine a recess in the plate, put in the name tag and then finish off with clear acrylic. Cunning, or what?

So I had a burger. No 1 Son (as I think of him in our less formal moments) had a chicken burger. Julia had gammon with egg. She was offered pineapple too but turned it down. I may have some reservations about aspects of the meal, but they can be quite generous at times. Even if they don’t have fresh salad, warm rolls or batter.

I was mildly sarcastic about the chef not being able to mix flour and water, but it seems the batter comes in bags of batter mix.

Without being too detailed or sarcastic, it wasn’t Harvester’s finest moment. They did replace the salad and refill the rolls before we left, but the moment had passed by then.

The food was good, even if the lack of salad, bread and batter was disappointing. Wasn’t keen on paying full price either, though it isn’t actually expensive by modern standards.

 

 

Promising Much, Delivering Little…

I had so much planned, but it is not to be.

A year ago I delivered a pale shadow of what I promised, when I forgot to take my card and could only take 30 photos.

This year, pockets bulging with cards and batteries, I took several hundred photographs. There are some really good ones there, but unfortunately you’ll have to take my word for it because my camera won’t communicate with the computer and the card reader on the computer is, to say the least, erratic.

For now you will have to look at the ones from last year.

We had a good day out, despite threatened storms, rain, fog, an idiot in a high-vis jacket and a hacking cough.

We also had fish and chips.

As days go, it was pretty good, and it isn’t over yet.

 

More Scones, More Chips

Really, the things I do for research.

First, I had scones at Minsmere Nature Reserve. They were big, reasonably priced and fruity. They were also much better than the ones we had on Wednesday, though that was not difficult.

The ones we had on Wednesday, during a visit to a craft centre, were “short” according to Julia. This is baker-talk for crumbly.

Actually they turned to dust as if they’d been tightly-wrapped in bandages 3,000 years ago and left in the pocket of an ancient pharaoh until recently rediscovered. They also tasted of baking powder, which is generally considered a bad thing.

The ones at Minsmere were far better. They wouldn’t be worth a special journey, but they are a safe choice if you find yourself on the Suffolk coast with an odd corner to fill.

While I was eating the scones I looked at some of the signs. They are really taking things seriously – possibly too seriously. I may come back to this subject later.

Later in the day we went back to Aldeburgh for fish and chips. We were there before five o’clock. There were two chip shops open this time and they already had small queues starting. I don’t think the people of Aldeburgh exist on fish and chips, by the way. Second homes make up about a third of the yown’s residential property and I suspect many of them are used by people who don’t cook.

They come in a specially made bag with greaseproof paper lining – very technical.

The chips were good – well-cooked and tasty. The fish was also good, with nice big fresh flakes. Again, we passed on the peas as they are tricky to eat in the car.

Were they worth the effort? Well, they were very good. They were probably as good as the ones from Saxmundham the night before. But they probably weren’t good enough to justify two trips to Aldeburgh.

Fish and Chips at Cromer

I’ll jump ahead a bit, missing out the rest of the Hunstanton visit and Cromer Pier and getting straight to the chips.

When a chip shop calls itself Number One, even if it is at No 1 New Street, it’s making a big statement. When this is backed up by fish and chips at £12.50 it’s doing the same, as you can generally get them for £9.50. So was it really 25% better than the average fish and chip shop?

Difficult to say.

I had hake and Julia had rock (which used to be called rock salmon in the days before trades description legislation).

I’m not sure if either of them were up to the mark. The rock was a bit soft compared to the shark I’ve had before, which has always been quite fibrous, and the hake was a bit too fishy. I believe that hake is generally more fish flavoured than other fish, so this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though again, it seemed a bit soft and didn’t flake well.

Hake and Chips in Cromer

Hake and Chips in Cromer

Portion size was good, batter was OK – not quite crisp enough for my taste. They were served seasoned with sea salt. When I’d read this on the menu I imagined a light sprinkle of salt, not the amount that ended up piled on the fish. Look at the photo for an idea of what happened. Too much salt!

The chips, on the other hand, were excellent. Big, crispy and plentiful.

Tartare sauce was tangy and had a great flavour. Ten out of ten for that.

The peas, on the other hand, were bland. We had the non-minted ones – I suppose the minted ones would have been a better choice. I don’t know how you can make bland peas, particulalrly when there was plenty of salt on the fish.

There’s no excuse for poor peas. They should have remembered the 6 P Rule.

Proper Preparation Prevents Peas Poor Performance.

We’re currently discussing this meal – Julia says she would go back again. I say I probably wouldn’t. It wasn’t bad, but I don’t think it was any better than some of the cheaper offerings from less glitzy shops.

 

 

An Expensive Mistake

This is probably the best example you could have of how out of step I feel with modern life. Apologies is you are becoming tired of my view on this subject, but I have to blog or burst.

On Monday afternoon we went to the new East Bridgford Garden Centre. A perfectly good local garden centre has been taken over, new buildings erected, a massive car park built and a slice of retail Hell has been grafted onto the Nottinghamshire countryside.

I’m sure, from the crowd of people, that it will be popular, and that it fills a need in the lives of many people. This need isn’t necessarily for plants as most people seem to have left without visible purchases. It is also providing a lot of jobs, though they are mainly, it seems, for teenagers. Older people, as in people in their thirties, don’t seem to have much of a place here.

We didn’t see any of the staff who used to work at he old centre and Max the Parrot has gone too. It appears that he went to live elsewhere during the building work and liked it so much that he decided to stay.

A likely story. I think he was handed his P45 as part of the move from Garden Centre to slick corporate retail outlet.

Anyway, back to the fish and chips. They were a familiar and, we thought, safe, choice in a rather confusing cafe.

They gave us a “locator” for the table – a high tech version of a number on a stick. The tea arrived, just ahead of the meal. My thoughts were that the tea could have been a bit quicker and the main meal was available quicker than I was expecting.

The staff were quick, efficient and cheerful and the locator seemed to work well.

And that was as good as it got.

The fish portion was small. The chips were large, though not numerous. The tartare sauce came in a cheap paper cup, the watercress garnish was a bit of an afterthought. And the peas…

For £10.95 you expect a goodly dollop. What we got was a smear. Julia’s photograph exaggerates the size of the portion. I wasn’t sure whether it was the promised pea and mint puree or just a leftover from a poor attempt at washing up.

Fish and Chips East Bridgford

Undoubtedly the worst fish I’ve had for years

The good news was that the sauce was tangy, the caramelised lemon was juicy, the chips were well cooked and the pea and mint puree was delicious, even if it was brief.

Bad news – the fish was the worst I’d had in thirty years.

It was small, thin and had a pasty consistency with only a few discernible flakes. Mainly it was tasteless, and in parts was so bland as to be unpleasant, which probably explained why there was salt on the plate when the meal arrived – an attempt to introduce flavour.

It took me back to market day in Uttoxeter thirty years ago. I had fish and chips in a cafe – the fish was thin, bland and, as I got to the centre, still frozen.

I really don’t know what to say. It wasn’t good value from the quantity point of view, and it was inexcusably poor from the quality point of view.

Surroundings were clean and bright, staff were great but the food is the important bit, and it was dreadful.

It’s very unlikely we’ll be going back.

 

The Piers of Lowestoft

There are two piers at Lowestoft – the South Pier and the Claremont Pier. The Claremont Pier is, I assume, named after something or someone named Claremont, but none of the published sources seem to mention who it is. Confusingly, the South Pier is, according to my map, north of the Claremont.

This called for some heavy-duty lucubration. (Yes, I’ve been reading that website again).

Things fell into place with a quick look on Google Maps. The South Pier, though North of the Claremont Pier, is actually South of the North Pier. The North and South Piers are the concrete breakwaters that form the harbour.

Like so many words, we expect quite a lot of it and it means at least three things.

This becomes clearer when you start to walk along the South Pier, which, in some ways,  isn’t a pier – it’s just concrete. There are no legs, no boards and no sight of the sea underfoot. Chris Foote Wood, in Walking Over the Waves, is considers that it isn’t really a pier at all. However, as he points out, the National Piers Society says it is, and they have the final word on the subject.

The South Pier is quite good, apart from the puzzling name and the lack of legs and stuff. When you drive up to it, it appears to be quite an elegant Edwardian building situated conveniently close to a large car park. As you park, you notice that the elegant pavilion isn’t part of the pier. It’s actually the East Point Pavilion and, according to the internet is only 25 years old.

Ah well!

The South Pier has a traditionally garish front (I speak only for my lifetime – obviously if I was Victorian I’d have a different idea of tradition) with plenty of amusements. It then has a concrete deck, a notice about lobster pots, a lifeboat shop and a trawler that is open to the public. We wondered about the lobster pots, and when we saw someone throwing what looked like a keep net into the water Julia asked him about it.

That morning he had caught prawns and shrimps (which I thought were the same thing) and some crabs. He does catch lobsters now and then, which was a surprise as I’d never thought of them being caught off the east coast. He uses bacon as bait. This would work for me too, as I’d be happy to crawl into a net for bacon.

From the pier you can see a massive crane on the other side of the dock. This, according to the internet, is based on the North Pier and is doing construction work.

Unlike many east coast piers, which had sections removed to stop them being used by the Germans (see previous comments) the South Pier couldn’t be breached, though it was damaged by German bombing. Around 20 bombs fell on the harbour, with one falling next to the pier and one destroying the reading room/pavilion.

Lowestoft was bombed 90 times during the war and suffered 261 fatalities. It isn’t much compared to the bombing of London or Germany, but it must have been a massive contrast to the holiday season of 1939 when the town was crammed with holidaymakers and the pier was full of happy faces.

The South Pier is linked to the Claremont Pier by a road train along the sea front. It’s based on Thomas the Tank Engine, though I suspect that Thomas is considerably faster – we used it and had trouble overtaking pedestrians. A pair of joggers actually overtook us.

I was surprised how many people waved at us as we went by. People aren’t normally that pleased to see me. The proprietors of “all you can eat” buffets are particularly not pleased to see me.

The Claremont Pier doesn’t have a buffet but it does host a selection of eating outlets, which mainly seemed closed. I suppose you have to do whatever pays the bills but restaurants that only open in the evening don’t really make for a cheery atmosphere during the day. Nor does an empty roller-skating rink, despite the flashing lights. It really isn’t my sort of thing (I last wore roller skates around 50 years ago, fell down a lot and ended up bruised and annoyed) so I didn’t feel inclined to have a go. That just leaves the amusements, and it was a bit hot for getting excited in a confined, badly ventilated, space.

The pier’s website shows photos of the eating places and bars, and it does seem to be a much brighter place to be when they are open. If I lived 150 miles closer I’d be seriously tempted by their Sunday Lunch offer, though “beef jus” isn’t really my style. I’m a gravy man. The menu for Scott’s, the restaurant that does fish and chips, looks interesting, and seems to be hammering the local Redpoll population. I notice they do that thing where they miss the £ sign off, as it makes food seem cheaper. Looking at their prices you can see why.  Note also that prices are for fish – you have to buy the chips as an extra. I was a bit miffed that the special at Sutton on Sea didn’t include tea. Guess what I think about chips being treated as an extra.

As part of a developing theme, the bulk of the pier is merely a seagull playground. It’s a shame, as the walk is often the best bit of the pier. It can be particularly memorable when accompanied by spongy boards and the fear of plummeting through the broken deck into the sea. Let’s face it, when you’re my size this can be a consideration even on a well-maintained pier.