In search of the perfect fish & chips
My husband and I are on an ongoing quest to find the world’s best fish and chips. Our favourites include Beshoff’s in Howth, its sister on Mespil Rd. and Sharky’s in Wexford town. We’ve also eaten at the infamous Doyle’s in Sydney’s Watson’s Bay and at The Codfather in Cape Town. Along the road we’ve had some fantastic meals and also had some miserable experiences.
As part of our food odyssey I really wanted to visit Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. It was one of the reasons we decided to come to Cornwall in the first place. I’m a huge fan of Rick’s having watched all of his own “Odysseys”. My plan was to have a splash-out meal at “The Seafood Restaurant”, the fanciest and most expensive of Stein’s 12 eateries in Padstow.
We arrived in Padstow just before 6pm. Perfect, I thought – that would give us just enough time to book a table and then delouse before eating. However, as we pulled into the main car park we could see droves of people walking with fish & chip boxes. “Ooh, fish & chips!”, Arūnas exclaimed. I tried explaining my long-awaited plan, but I could see that his heart was now firmly fixed on having fish & chips. It was a glorious evening and the surroundings were beautiful, so fish & chips did seem like the perfect idea. We had bought some homemade cider in Sommerset earlier in the day which would make a perfect accompaniment. So, I “succumbed”.
The menu advises that the battered fish (and I think the chips) are deep-fried in beef dripping. The best way, I feel. I ordered cod and Arūnas opted for the haddock. We also got sides of mushy peas and garlic mayonnaise. We returned to our cosy van, which was parked alongside the pier, and tucked in. (If my photo is less than fantastic I make no apology – it is impossible to get a hungry husband to wait patiently while you photograph his food, especially when it’s fish & chips, which tend to go cold and lose their crispness quite quickly.)
I have no doubt that the “oohs” and “aahs” were audible outside the van. We had finally found it – this was undoubtedly the best fish & chips we had ever eaten. The fish was dead fresh and perfectly cooked, moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. The chips were to die for – a deep golden, caramelised, crispy exterior with a moist and flavourful interior. The mayonnaise appeared to be real, fresh mayonnaise with copious amounts of fresh garlic added. It was not for the faint hearted, but it suited us perfectly. The mushy peas, too, were as good as it gets.
Am I sorry I missed my opportunity to eat in Stein’s internationally recognised Seafood Restaurant? Not really. Would I travel the considerable distance to Padstow again for another box of their impeccable fish and chips? Undoubtedly.