Saturday, 11 December 2010

The Beach Hut – My Local Chippy

Fish and Chips were a Friday regular in my household as a child, until my dad decided that the other British staple of spaghetti bolognese was to be the choice for our Friday night dinner.
A lot of the local fish and chip shops in Basingstoke became Chinese takeaways, instead of banishing this traditional food and replacing it with their own culinary treats, they actually improved the quality of the fish n chips. They also provided us with that so needed added extra, Curry Sauce. I recently had some chips with curry sauce in a pub, and it rolled back the years. It’s crap we know that, but it’s also pretty addictive. One of the good things to come out of the 80’s.
Islington has its fair share of fish n chip shops. Some ok and some not ok. I think I’ve tried most of them now to be able to say that. That would explain my ever increasing waistline then.
The newly opened Beach Hut on the site of a one time closed fish n chip shop has brought life back into an odd stretch of road. There is a quality butchers, a good Italian deli and a fantastic cheese shop (even if the staff are rubbish), and some not so good cheap take away joints. Somehow they shouldn’t mix, but they do and it works. Kind of.

I think I’ve sampled the fish n chips enough times at the Beach Hut to know they are the bees knees. Unlike the fried fish of my childhood where the fish was cooked hours ahead of service and left in those traditional warm counters to sit and sit and sit until wanted. These little beauties are dipped in batter when you order them and they are fried before your very eyes. It makes all the difference.
The fish comes out lovely and crispy, the soft flesh is perfectly cooked and is a delight to eat. You can actually taste the quality of the fish. A rare thing these days.

We’ve eaten in and had take-away a few times. The décor is truly like being at the seaside, lot’s of pastel colors, wooden tables and chairs.  The menu is displayed on a chalkboard behind the counter.
The portions are truly on the large side. We made the mistake of ordering a large portion each first time round, well I was seriously hungry. One would have been enough for us both. They are that big.
The chips are good and comforting. Nice and floury on the inside, although not being as crispy as I like on the outside, but still very good.
They have a good selection of sides, the mushy peas are particularly good and go well with the mains.
For some reason I prefer having a take away rather than eating in. The only downside to this is the fish and the chips are a little bit too greasy and being in the bag for the short trip home sweats them a tad, but a quick blast in a hot oven dries them out enough. 

I’ve found out something in life the other week. Martini’s and fish n chips do not go together. A night of too many cocktails at 25 Canonbury Lane, a great cocktail bar just near Union Chapel told me this.
There is something about de-stressing out over a few perfectly made and alcohol laden cocktails that puts you in a good mood for the night ahead.
Things have a changed there a bit, it used to be more cocktails than beer, but on recent visits it’s more beer than cocktails. Seems the locals now, scoff at the idea of a well made mojito or martini. Actually on our last drunken visit, only women were drinking cocktails, and me. But it’s still a good place to chill and drink. Good mix of well heeled and not so well heeled people.

But after a night of strong vodka martinis, hunger always creeps in and as the Beach Hut is on our way home, we stopped in for some grub to quench our hunger. Martini’s good. Fish n chips good. Together. It just didn’t work. But I’m sure if we hadn’t been so drunk we would have realized that beforehand.
Thankfully the Beach Hut is doing good business, so it won’t be joining the vast majority of restaurants that close within their first year. Hoorah.

The Beach Hut on Urbanspoon
25 Canonbury Lane on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly! I am from the states and had always liked fish and chips, but very few in the states get it right. So when I came to London, I tried quite a few since its a traditional dish. Sadly, many shops left me thinking "I came all the way to london and cant find any better than in the states?" But, walking back to our room one night we found this little gem, and loved it! The owners are great, and fun people, the fish is extremely large and fresh, and the batter is crisp and light. I also agree the fries could be crisper, but still not bad. I also had some fried oysters just for good measure and they were amazing! The prices are fair, about six for a large cod and chips, which is a great deal considering how much you get, and the fact that it seems pubs in the area charge 10-12 for much less. My advice is to check them out. The fish is properly cooked, not tough, flaky and moist, and the batter is not doughy or soggy, because they refuse to use frozen fish. THe decor is nice and light,and welcoming as are the owners! I may not be from london, but I can tell you, if I were, this would be my local chippy as well.

Anonymous said...

I've seen the other reviews and I did see the bald guy running it acting friendly and jovial but... with me he lost control of his temper in one of the most terrible outburst I've ever seen in a place of "business". It was so bad and violently threatening that I'm still thinking of notifying the police. This is exactly what happened: I asked the lady for a fish burger. She said it would be about 5 mins. Ten mins later, the bald guy served a girl who came in after me with a fish burger. I very politely checked with him that I hadn't been forgotten. He politely told me not to worry, that it was coming. A further 7 mins elapsed and, despite feeling hungry and put out by being there for 17 mins, I still very politely asked him if it had been forgotten. At this he froze with his head down in silence. Suddenly he looked up and said, "I tell you what! Do you want to f***ing come round here and do it?!" in an extremely aggressive manner. Very calmy, despite this, I said, "Oh mate there's no need for that, it's just I was told 5 mins and it's been nearer 20 now". He then went furious and said "Get out of my F***ing shop now!" looking like he wanted to viciously attack me. When i protested that I had paid earlier for my fish burger, he wrenched the cash till open and smacked £2 into my hands, whilst screaming at me to get out. It was then that I finally showed affront and said "How dare you do this to me? What kind of business IS this?" He then ran out from behind the counter and leered vilolently right into my face as though he was about to strike me, "Get out of my f***ing shop now, you c**nt" he whispered with utter vitriol and violence in my face. I was horrified and concerned for my well being so I left. That's it. All I can say to potential customers is he is an awful, desperately aggressive thug underneath that initially chirpy exterior. His wife seemed to have hidden during all this, I can only guess she's seen it of old and is too scared of possible violence from him to intervene. Don't go there, I think he needs psychiatric help.