Simply Fish, Simply Fabulous

Simply Fish is a new seafood restaurant in Camden’s busy Inverness Street serving up the catch straight from the shores of Looe in Cornwall.

The concept is excellent and the first restaurant for owner Chris Singham.  What’s caught on the boat that day is cooked your way and there’s a standard choice of seven.  The only fish that isn’t from the Cornish coast is the farmed Scottish Salmon and the Tiger Prawns.

Simply Fish seats 74 and is a large, communal-style space with thoughtful touches.  It’s not fancy but it is functional.  Bags and coats go above the benches on luggage racks, cutlery and napkins in a drawer at the end of each table.

Mr and me visit on a Tuesday night and the two servers have exhaustive knowledge and are passionate about the menu which begins with hot and cold small plates.  All orders are written on something that looks like the a Star-Trek communicator but I’m assured go straight to the kitchen.

We begin with the Cornish mussels in coconut and lemongrass sauce (£6.50).  Sadly the Chilli Salt Squid has run out (£6.25) so we choose sizzling prawns in garlic and chilli (£6.50).

The mussels are fabulous and are sweet and salty and taste so fresh.  They were totally grit-free and each one of my generous portion were open and had taken on the broth flavour.  Razor-cut slices of fresh chilli cut right through the sweetness of the coconut, fish-infused soup and I ate the lot and polished off their cooking juice.  We weren’t disappointed in the prawns either, they were meaty and cooked beautifully.  No dryness and for the non-spice fan just the right amount of garlic and chilli.  For those of you who like your spice you could always mention that to the server I just know they’d tailor that for you too.

Here’s the Main’s section of a menu that doubles-up as a place mat.  You work your way down the list and decide what you’d like to eat.   Choose from Pollock, Salmon  Cod, Plaice, Sea Bream, Sea Bass and Tiger Prawns.  There’s plenty of choice and the options on offer allow you to choose to be healthy or gluttonous – steamed fish can be served with salad or you could order the tempura batter and chips. If the fish is popular, it’s struck off the menu, so you will be assured of quality. If you’re not in the mood for multiple choice there’s a specials section where the decisions have all been made for you. It’s here you’ll find a few of the Chef’s favourites, Jesus our server tells us that the Spiced Seabass with fried aubergine and spicy tomato and steamed rice (£12.50) and the sea bream with a ginger and garlic curry, and jasmine rice (£10.50) are both from the kitchen of his grandmother. The Bream is a popular choice throughout the day and is off the evening menu.  Other  include Shellfish Paella (£11/£20 for 2), Cornish crab with a choice of 3 sauces, steamed rice or fries (£14.50), and a Mediterranean Fish Stew served with rustic bread (£11.50/£21.00 for 2).

For mains then (£12.50 including sauce and 1 accompaniment), I order the Pollock in a Tempura batter with no sauce but Tartare accompanied with fresh-cut chips and crushed peas.  Mister chose the Cod, steamed with a citrus anchovy butter with Pak Choy, ginger & garlic and a second accompaniment of garlic and Parsley caper new potatoes (£3.50 extra).  If you’re scared of mixing the wrong fish with the wrong sauce and accompaniment, fear not.  This is why the servers are so fabulous.  They’ve tried everything, know what works and what doesn’t and will lead you back on the righteous path if you need the compass.  Otherwise, you can try it all your way, although the experience could be an interesting one.

Well the choice of chef says it all this man knows his fish.  Deep fried crescents of Pollock in an air-filled Tempura batter cooked perfectly.  The chips were indeed hand cut and crispy the crushed peas were sweet and finely chopped mint added.  A thick caper and gherkin-studded Tartare sauce was the perfect partner.  I ate the fish, scooped up the peas but the chips beat me.

Wonderfully sated.  Mr’s dish was absolutely stunning and something straight from a restaurant that would have easily charged double.  There’s nothing much more to say about this dish because this picture says it all.  A healthy sized portion of fish, the Pak Choy was well cooked yet still had the expected bite and the ginger, garlic, chilli and citrus anchovy were well matched.  Underneath this is the new potatoes which were creamy and delicately seasoned with Parsley,

The dessert section reads well too but you may want to weigh up your preferences here as we had starters and mains with two accompaniments each and we were comfortably full.  The apple and cinnamon frangipane with clotted cream; chocolate brownie with creme Anglaise; pineapple and watermelon salad with lemongrass syrup or the lemon tartlet could push you over the edge.  All are a very reasonable £5.00.

A small selection of beers and ciders range from £2.80 a bottle to £5.00 and the wines (white and rose) are well priced and most are available by the glass it was nice to see Chapel Down English wine in the sparkling and champagne section.  Spirits are also available so too are soft drinks.

I should say something about the Chef at some point.  Sherif Hassan is the wearing that hat  and he’s got a real affinity with fish probably something to do with his heritage.  He worked at his family run business in one of Cairo’s main fish markets.  His pedigree is impressive, here he was an apprentice to Brian Turner, turned stints in kitchens with Conran, Pierre-White and Berger.  Sketch, the Rose & Crown in Essex, Simpsons at the Savoy and The Farm in Fulham are just some of the places he’s served up thousands of plates of cracking food.  There is no denying he’s the right man for the job – his menu is exciting and inspired with hints of the Med, Asia and his native Middle East.  Chris must be delighted in his choice of chef and staff they really do his first restaurant credit.

The takeaway option seems really very popular and dishes are moving backwards and forwards in cardboard containers.  The front of the restaurant also has a small fish-inspired delicatessen.

We absolutely loved Simply Fish and will be recommending it wholeheartedly.   The team behind the brand really want customers to leave this restaurant with the right impression. – fresh fish, cooked beautifully, without denting the wallet.  They know it’s the difference between them being full or empty on a mid-week night in a street full of choices.  We’ll be back to try the Fish Stew, although it’s rumoured there’s expansion in the pipeline – Chiswick and St Paul’s keep an eye out for Simply Fish.

Simply Fish, 4 Inverness St, Camden

020 7482 2977, e-mail: info@simplyfishcamden.co.uk