|Are Traditional Fish And Chips Just A Delicious Reminiscence?|
We visit Reef to see if their ‘glam’ version can rival a memory
One of my favourite childhood memories was being allowed to hold the fish and chips on the way home from the chip shop. Even though the paper package would scald my legs, the victory of being the ‘chosen one’ (I’m one of five and this was a major battle to win!) and that indescribable aroma would make the discomfort worthwhile.
But that was back in the days when we would eat them straight from the paper with little wooden forks, make doorstep chip sandwiches with white bread and lashings of butter in blissful ignorance of cholesterol, drink litres of Panda Pops whilst listening to football results on the radio. It did us no harm!
These days I get the sense that simple fish and chips are no longer good enough, they need to be ‘traditional with a twist’, fried in special batter or particular oil with twice cooked chips etc. And even when I do manage to find somewhere that doesn’t chef around too much with the fish or spuds, for some reason it never tastes quite as good as I remember it did as a child.
Back to present day and onto to Chiswick’s latest fish restaurant Reef. Launched by Lorraine Angliss whose two branches of Annie’s in Strand on the Green and Barnes and the new Rock and Rose in Richmond all enjoy great success and have earned a loyal following (and I would go so far as to say that the fish and chips at Annie’s is rather good if you’re not trying to equal a memory).
Reef is Lorraine’s latest venture for which she “upped the glamour stakes on traditional fish and chips” and locals have great hopes that her boutique fish and chip restaurant will succeed where others have failed following the long-lamented departure of Christian’s.
The décor of the diminutive Burlington Road site is typically Annie’s, sumptuously intimate with candelabras, cushions, chandeliers and Nina Campbell designed wall coverings. Not an inch of space has been wasted with the main dining area being proficiently filled with her trade mark wooden tables and whicker chairs and further tables positioned in the slender corridor.
The menu has been kept simple and includes a meat dish for the less fishy inclined. We ordered king prawns (£6.95) and half a dozen rock oysters (£7.00) to start. The piquant grilled prawns were a delicious treat as were the fresh tasting oysters accompanied by shallot vinaigrette.
The tuna, served with a pleasant avocado salsa, was again lovely and fresh and cooked precisely to my version of rare. The cod wasn’t as successful and unfortunately neither were the chips which were overcooked. We cleared our plates nevertheless and managed to squeeze in crème brulee (£4.00) to finish the meal off on a sweet note.
To drink we chose a Provencal rose £18.95, more because we couldn’t agree on red or white rather than an educated decision, though luckily the choice proved to be a good one.
The bill came to £69.08 including service.
If you like Annie’s then you’ll like Reef as it follows the same lines of food, service and décor. As with all new openings, even those with well seasoned restaurateurs like Lorraine behind them, there are a few teething problems though it undoubtedly won’t be long before these are ironed out.
Reef is about as far away from the chipper of my childhood as you can get but then so is my attitude towards calories, cholesterol and Panda Pops. For grown up, glamorous fish and chips free from formica Reef does not disappoint. For those trips down memory lane however, I’ll stick to sauntering ever so slowly past Chris’ inhaling deeply as I go.
March 4, 2008