If you want fresh fish cooked exceptionally, haven’t got the time or money to travel far, then may I suggest you venture South of the river, because I am going to make a very bold statement. If The Fish Place’s atmosphere was to crackle and pop like Scott’s,
J Sheekeys, then this would become my favourite fish restaurant in the capital.
It’s all about location when it comes to food in this town, and it’s not the easiest to find whichever way you look at it. Off the beaten track, sandwiched between Battersea and Wandsworth bridges, its location is very handy if you live in the new development of Wharf flats that surround it but generally I’d say you need a compass and a cab. If you have access to a car then it’s just behind Price’s candle factory and parking is free. The nearest overground is Clapham Junction and the 170, 44, 295 and C3 serve it too. But, if your mode of transport is a helicopter then that’s a total bonus, you’ll have a thirty second walk, it’s right next to the London Heliport.
The restaurant is modern, and the space is bright and welcoming. It’s hard to make this space cosy but the room between tables and chairs was comfortable. Thirty-seven covers on the top floor, seventeen on the ground and twenty outside. A sterile start at 7.30pm when we arrived and it was welcome relief that Buble and Sinatra were there to provide some musical accompaniment. As the tables started to fill, the atmosphere changed and the restaurant filled out a little – but not enough for a Friday night.
We sat right by the window, a table for four that was generously offered for just two. A really nice view of the river along with the ubiquitous jogger, pleasure boat and dog walker.
We began with drinks I was offered a Brookman’s gin by the extremely knowledgeable and friendly Allessandro, the restaurant manager and my guest had a beer. The gin was delicious and a nice start to the meal.
We visited in the week they were celebrating the lobster, previous seasons have seen the elevation of the crab to it’s own menu and this is offered alongside the regular menu.
There’s a tasting menu consisting of five courses, showcasing the likes of squid tempura, tiger prawns and halibut, pudding a delicious sounding strawberry and lemon tart with mint syrup and coffee too for £50.
A plate of petite rolls arrived with a globe of freshly patted butter, on opening they puffed steam and the butter melted on cue.
And then arrived two quenelles of crabby loveliness – an amuse bouche served on those mouth-unfriendly bone china “spoons” – the intenseness of the fish cut by an exquisite beurre blanc.
I began with the Lobster Salad surely some tribute to Frank Gehry the architect because the careful placement of shell, meat and the attention to the minutest detail would give Bilbao’s Guggenheim a run for its money. Some may say steep at £20.00 but worth every penny. There was plenty of dense meat, someone else had got their fingers fishy and the delicate mixed leaves and were a fitting compliment. I don’t think I’ve ever seen chive chopped so finely in a dressing before. The suggested rose Chateau de L’Aumerade arrived and was the most glorious pale blush and it worked incredibly well with the lightness of the dish.
The tuna was another work of art; thin slices of smoked tuna with dots of lime green wasabi filled a large plate and when mixed, hit the palate with an unseen sucker punch. The amusing speckled stick in fact turned out to be a twist on the Chinese buffet favourite – prawn toast – the crab filling and roasted black sesame seeds on a light and non-greasy offering, put paid to any other resemblance. A nice juicy French white from the Languedoc, Vielles Vignes “Les Archeres”, was the wine chosen by our attentive host and the citrus and peach notes went well with the dish.
An unprompted Elderflower palate cleanser that, for many, is an acquired taste pleased us both. Whilst it may be a glorified flavoured ice it was light and did the job and it left me wondering what other surprises were in store.
I didn’t have to wait long as my grilled coriander swordfish loin arrived (£25.50). It takes a decent amount of fishy knowledge to cook this thick loin well, pink inside but hot. This ticked all the boxes. Again the attention to detail here was finite. The squid salad was cooked perfectly, rings and rings of fresh sea flavour, not an opaque rubber band in sight. The stuffed courgette flower had the lightest batter and oozed the most unctuous of filling. Delicate peeled tomatoes framed the dish and a celery leaf and tomato flavoured oil provided a pretty, but enhancing dressing that lightly bathed the thinly sliced strips of courgette.
The Pot-au-Feu of seafood was delightful. The risotto was better than my own, and mine is awesome, it was comforting, creamy and everything a risotto should be. The fish was crisp yet moist, full of colour and taste and again the beurre blanc made another performance. The accompanying wine of Rive Haute Colombard Sauvignon was a fitting choice.
I almost put my back out as I strained to see the delivery of a lobster to the table behind. A large armoured crustacean hung off a plate and even with a surgical-looking tool it was clear the man was in awe of his choice and didn’t want to attack the shell – even if he had the steel – and revelled in the fact a little longer that he had made the best choice on the table.
I had no room for dessert but was coaxed to order the Summer Pudding. A small yet perfectly formed fruit filled pudding, the walls of which were thin but strong enough to hold in the berries trying to burst free. Huge blackberries the size of a chubby baby’s finger scattered the plate were sweet and contrasted with the bite-sized sharpness of the gooseberries and raspberries inside. The praline ice cream was inhaled, from memory I think it was to-die-for-creamy definitely nutty, but it really didn’t hang around in my mouth for too long.
Did we have room for coffee? Just about. Two large cups, accompanied by two chocolates scoffed without thought or analysis – delicious!
All the fish is sourced from Channel Fisheries and Coast Seafood in Cornwall, the lobsters notably native. Gilles Caisey is the Head Chef and Fish God.
I love, love, love, The Fish Place. It’s not just a place that does fish; it sources, cooks and delivers it in the very best way. I just wish other people would make the trip because full it would be an amazing place. However, difficult the journey, might be – and I’ve thought of all your travel options reader – please go. You won’t be disappointed.