For a change, ahead of a jaunt to Brighton this past Sunday, we decided to do a little research on where to eat, and ended up – partly for convenience – trying Fishy Fishy, a fairly new restaurant that the Guardian reviewed last fall. They weren’t particularly enthused, but we were hungry, and hoped that the place might have taken some of the feedback on board since. We were intrigued and pleased by the menu, which stressed sustainably sourced, local, seasonal fish.
Because we only tried one main apiece, ours is not a comprehensive review, but our experience was, as the Guardian’s, a little mixed. First off, I was attracted to the mussels – of which they offered three preparations – and they were out of them entirely, as well as one or two other regularly-menu dishes. Of course, this is understandable for a restaurant that focuses on the freshest, but it was a little disappointing that each of my three top choices was gone.
We did find a couple of appealing alternatives: Andrew had broiled plaice with some curried kale and sweet potato that was quite nice and flavorful, particularly the veg. I chose a full portion of something called Brighton-baisse. Now, I know it was their own version, and not meant to be but there were some key elements of bouillabaisse that, unfortunately, went missing. The hearty serving of soup was full of plaice, scallops, and prawns, in a rich-looking broth. Accompanying slices of toast were made with fluffy Italian bread that didn’t strike me as homemade, and were grilled – well, burnt, really. I assume they were meant to sop up extra broth, but most authentic renderings of bouillabaisse would have a well-oiled actual crouton of some kind. What I really missed, in the end, was fat – butter, olive oil, or the classic dollop of aioli – and some garlic would’ve helped a great deal as well. The soup did have flavor – in the form of red pepper and tomato – but it lacked a dimension and richness that extra salt and pepper could not provide. I felt that this lovely, ample bowl of seafood almost went to waste, as it was almost an effort to finish the delicate, ultra-fresh fillets of plaice that simply could not stand on their own.
I do hope this place survives, as I think it’s really important to showcase locally sourced and sustainable fish. I just hope there’s someone in the kitchen with good tastebuds who can adapt recipes to best suit whatever’s fresh and available.