Sunday, December 31, 2006
Fish and Chips For Chumps
I should start off this post by pointing out that it likely wasn't the restaurant's fault. As we were walking in, 92 (they told us) member's of some marching band from the suburbs of Columbus Ohio walked out. Many of them were wearing aubergine satin jackets. Many of them looked like what Europeans envision American's looked like. They clearly had occupied every seat. Although I have sympathy on the restaurants staff for having to endure this, their failure to recover doomed our meal.
The place we ate is the Sea Shell of Lisson Grove (020 7220 9000). It is a favorite of our London friends and on walking in I could see why. The place is well lit and spacious. Things went downhill from there. The place was understaffed (perhaps they lost someone in the combat of the 92 Midwesterners?), and the waitress had problems keeping our order straight. When the food eventually came, it was nothing to right home about. We ordered Fried Calamari, which came as straight, greasy, chewy strips. Our London friend ordered a favorite of hers; avocado with baby shrimp (called prawns in the UK) and covered with Russian dressing. I found this to be surprisingly good despite my reservations about the whole concept and would get it again if I returned to the place. Our male London friend suggested the King Prawns (which are normal sized shrimp) in garlic paste, which was OK, although not as good as our friend thinks. We think the Ohio people at all of their bread, and when we asked for a plate (extra in this place) we received Kaiser rolls.
The Sea Shell sells multiple kinds of fish and chips, including cod, haddock, plaice and skate. It also sells a variety of broiled fish as well. Unfortunately, it does not sell any non-fish items as an entree. They have chicken on the take out menu, but we got the feeling the Ohio Band ate it all before we came. This meant that we had to get a chicken Cesar salad, greens on the side, to feed to boy #2. If you have a similar child, you may end up in a similar predicament. The fish and chips were without a doubt the highlight of the experience, although not the best I have had by any means. The fish were not fried in oil that was hot enough, and grease seeped in. The cod was also dry. The chips were good, although I suggest you ask for them "well done."
Dessert consisted of ice cream, an apple cake, which was good, and spotted dick, which has nothing to do with what I tend to see in the course of my professional life. Spotted dick is a steamed pudding with raisins. Despite its name, its actually sort of tasty.
The real problem with the place was, more than the limited selection and grease, was that the service was horrific. Food came in a haphazard fashion, and despite pleas from the parents, it was difficult to get even cold food served to them in a reasonable amount of time. I am not sure how long after we ordered it took us to get our fish, but it was pretty darn long. This despite the fact that its the type of place one would not goto without children.