Tag Archives: restaurant

Fishy Fishy

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.

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Le Caprice: Posh British food, now in Manhattan

Today’s NYTimes reviews a recently opened branch of London institution Le Caprice, a restaurant that provides as much a social experience involving rock stars and MPs than a dining experience. Sam Sifton passed along the story of Ian Dury making a scene and getting punched in the face by Omar Sharif; this story is also told (warning: gratuitous plug) in the excellent new Ian Dury biopic, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. Sifton describes the New York branch as serving “mostly nursery food with colonial accents”; you can order, for example, sticky toffee pudding, and the best dish, he says, is a smoked haddock tart (rare in America? yes, I suppose it would be). The American version of Le Caprice, though, lacks the celebrity edge and depravity, but you can find that elsewhere in New York.

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Tayyabs

This Punjabi/Pakistani restaurant in the East End (Whitechapel, and built onto an old synagogue, apparently) has gotten tons of ink, so I can’t add much. Three of us last Friday evening went there after a couple of pints at possibly the worst time of the week to go there without a reservation, and had, well, an experience. The queue wrapped around the restaurant, but the person in our group who’d been before assured us it moved quickly. So we queued, mushed together but moving out of the way of waiters who were dashing and bobbing with hot dishes spewing acrid fumes (nothing wrong with them, I’m just sensitive) of grilled meat and onions. The queue itself did move quickly – that is, until we got to the front, where we waited over an hour, apparently because we had the audacity to be a group of three instead of two. Once we sat, though – around 10 pm! – we did get served pretty quickly, after making sure not to dither too much with the menus (which wasn’t too hard, as there are not an overwhelming number of choices). Unfortunately we had to remind them – twice, I think – to bring the second plate of pilau rice we’d ordered, and the naan. Even at that hour, the restaurant was really cramped, and we felt rushed.

The food itself was very tasty, quite hot, but with the flavors of individual spices standing tall; you could tell, for example, that the coriander seed was ground by hand. The naan was bubbly, fresh, and buttery, though Andrew found the peshwari naan (whih I didn’t try) a little too sweet. A mango lassi, creamy, bubbly, and delicate, was the perfect balm to counter the fiery spices (even the raita in the sauce dish was hot). I’m glad we didn’t over-order, because my appetite always starts to tank after 9 pm, but Andrew came through and make sure we didn’t leave too much behind. Reading other people’s reviews (thank you, Bellaphon), I’m sorry I didn’t order the signature lamb chops, because I do love to gnaw on bones (yellow card to the first person to post a rude comment). We vowed to come back to try more of the menu, but I’m not entirely sure when, because it seems the problems with long queues and rushed, indifferent service can happen at any time, and we have yet to see whether booking ahead indeed solves these issues.

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