Monday, 29 August 2011

Fish&, Leeds

There's a bit of a fledgling street food revolution going on in Leeds at the moment. This is one London food fashion that I'm more than happy to see heading up the M1.

Right at the heart of the city centre, in the pedestrianised area around the junction of Commercial Street and Lands Lane there are now three mobile food units. Delizza pizza (not bad for the price) has been there for ages, but has now been joined by a burger/hotdog stall (has anyone tried it?) and by Fish&.

If I'm honest I got off on the wrong foot with Fish&. I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to fish and chips, so their marketing spiel of 'not like fish and chips as you know it' and 'fish and chips with a twist' didn't really chime with me. Provided it's done properly I like my fish and chips exactly as I know them, and don't think they need a twist. They were getting rave reviews on Twitter though, so I thought I ought to look past my prejudices and give them a try.

On my first visit I only wanted a light lunch, so ordered the mackerel bap (£3.50). They were very busy and the ordering system seemed to be getting a bit chaotic, which resulted in my order somehow being forgotten or misplaced. After a gentle reminder I eventually got my bap, but after a wait of over 15 minutes. At this point I wasn't feeling much love for the place.

But god it was good. So simple but so effective. A very fresh mackerel fillet, griddled until just cooked through and the skin crisped, lemony mayo and good quality bread. I absolutely adore mackerel, but only when it is really fresh like this. It turns really quickly, going rather pungent and fishy in no time at all. Given the success of my mack-bap I thought it only fair that I pay another visit to sample the fish and chips.

This time I turned up during a quieter moment and there were no service problems at all. You can still expect to wait, but that's a positive point because everything is cooked to order. Haddock (sustainable Icelandic) and chips this time (£5).

Once again the fish was the star of the show. Each order deposited into the fryer is timed using one of a series of stopwatches. This attention to detail really pays off, as it was the best piece of haddock I've eaten this year. Cooked until just flaking, the flesh was beautifully sweet and moist. The batter was much thinner than the chip shop norm, providing no more than a delicate casing for the fish. I chose the traditional batter by the way, the twist being provided by a lemon, lime and chilli alternative. I remain unconvinced, but perhaps I'll give it a try.

Chips were nice, but I always find those fried in vegetable oil (which Fish& uses) to be a little lacking in flavour in comparison with dripping fried chips. I can't comment on the peas because they don't do peas. Can we have peas please?! On the drinks front they've got Ben Shaw's pop, the only sensible choice for the discerning Yorkshire chippy proprietor.

So ultimately they won me round for one very good reason: the fish is excellent. Recommended.


in the middle of Commercial Street

Tues-Sat 1100-1800


Chris at Tasty Leeds said...

I had my first mack-bap from fish& during Leeds Loves Food in Millennium Square and completely agree with everything you said (apart from the wait as I was served promptly) Mackerel really does need to be fresh and this absolutely is, and cooked perfectly, also the bap really is very good quality.

I had a lot of good things during Leeds Loves Food, but only two which were great, one was the porchetta with salsa verde in a brioche bun from Jamies Italian which does not appear on their regular menu and really was amazing, the other was the mack-bap from fish& which is on their regular menu and thankfully I have been able to have a couple of times since, I am yet to try anything else from their menu, I should get to that judging by your description of the haddock.

Dave said...

I missed Leeds Loves Food as I was down in Cornwall that weekend. Sounds like it was quite good this year. Would defo recommend a lunchtime visit to Fish& for the haddock. Do it.

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