Bath may be far from the seaside but there are plenty of places to find the catch of the day, reckons Melissa Blease as she reaches for the salt and vinegar…
THE SCALLOP SHELL
Before Garry Rosser opened his fabulous fish and chip diner on Monmouth Place, fans of his super suppers (and they are legion) had to travel all the way to the White Row Farm in Beckington to grab their fish fix. But today, we have a choice of two lovely locations to dive in to: either we head for the nearby countryside and enjoy our fresh, sustainable, imaginative catch of the day in proper farm shop surroundings, or keep it local by visiting Garry’s cheerfully chic little seafood caff and takeaway on our doorsteps.
Oysters, scallops, mussels, clams and even lobster often swim against the “standard chippy fare tide” on a daily-changing menu, the flaming grill offers carb-dodgers plenty of options that can easily beat the batter into gentle submission and the chips… oh, the chips! Words can’t express their moreish majesty. This highly tasteful venture concentrates on the sheer joy of well-priced, cleanly presented, cared-for grub… and no catches.
The Scallop Shell, 20 Monmouth Place, Whiterow Farm, Beckington
Bath BA1 2AY BA11 6TN
Tel: 01225 420928 Tel: 01373 830510
This traditional fish’n’chipper has been feeding deep fried, naughty but nice yumminess for over five decades. You can take your grab-bag away with you or eat it at a pavement table, or sit in the cafe, from where you can watch the jolly fryers exchange banter with the queue of regulars and tourists at the counter. Huge jars of pickled eggs line the shelves, piles of ready-buttered baps are stacked up underneath a nylon tent on the counter and there are even homemade puddings on the chalk board.
Pies, burgers, sausages, chicken, and more, supplement the sustainable fish selection, with only the Desperate Dan-style challenge (two massive fish, a mushy pea lagoon and a mound of chips, £9.99) putting anything close to stress on the budget. Portions are huge, service is swift and cheerful.
Seafoods, 38 Kingsmead Street,
Bath BA1 2AA
Tel: 01225 465190
I enjoy throwing in the occasional wild card suggestion. With this fishy theme it didn’t seem necessary to go off piste until a recent trip to Nonna’s flicked the inspirational switch. The literal translation of the classic Italian fritto misto is ‘fried mixed’ and all manner of succulent little morsels respond well to a cloak of light batter and a dunk in the deep fat frier.
Fish and seafood, however, seem to fare best, and the cucina at Nonna’s proves this point, offering a stylish variation on our good old Brit-trad habit. The dish in question is £7.50 and is only suggested as a precursor to the main event. But if you ask nicely, the chefs are happy to supersize the standard portion. Might we suggest, however, a second “starter” of triglia con olive nere (pan-fried fillet of red mullet with black olive tapenade and capers) and a side dish of zucchini fritti and elevate a fish and chip supper to new, Romanesque heights. Wild? It’s positively selvaggio!
Nonna’s, 39 Gay Street,
Bath BA1 2NT
Tel: 01225 427919
SALT AND MALT
If you’re going to undertake a 30-40 minute drive for a fish supper, there has to be gold at journey’s end. But if you’re guaranteed to find a fish cafe overlooking the Chew Valley lake specialising in fish suppers created by Josh and Holly Eggleton’s Michelin-starred gastropub the Pony and Trap, surely you’d consider traipsing barefoot through nettles to get there? The S&M (ahem!) takeaway opened to great acclaim, while the cafe and restaurant has caused ripples among punters.
Expect top-notch, sustainable ingredients on a menu that includes seasonal delights such as mussels, squid and crab alongside plenty of gluten-free options and locally-sourced bangers and burgers to complete the line up. Meanwhile, there’s alfresco seating for up to 200 people who want to make the very most of that view. To date, however, there’s no remedy for nettle stings and blisters on the menu, so set the SatNav and enjoy the ride.
Salt and Malt, Wally Lane,
Chew Stoke BS49 8TF
Tel: 01275 333345
POLLOCKS AT LA FLAMMA
While the fish’n’chip combo is one of the most successful partnerships most of us have ever encountered, there are other pairings that don’t immediately spring to mind. Initially, the idea of a fish and chip bar in a French restaurant may present a “did I read that correctly?” moment. But yes indeed, you did. But we’re not just talking about any French restaurant here, and nor are we talking about prosaic fish and chips.
When Pollocks of Bath opened its doors on Grove Street, its classic, solid offering almost immediately trended on the best in Bath charts. Similarly, when Le Flamma – the only Alsacien restaurant in the south west, don’cha know – opened on nearby Argyle Street, we all cheered the return of Flammakueche (aka the Tarte Flambee, but not just “posh quiche”) to the Heritage City menu. Put ’em together and what have you got? A perfectly harmonious twosome that offers broad appeal – and a multitude of options. Flamma with chips? Line-caught haddock with a glass of the exclusive Champagne Buhr? Coming right up!
Pollocks at Le Flamma, 15 Argyle Street,
Bath BA1 4BQ
Tel: 01225 463482
There’s a big board outside the Garrick’s Head that boldly declares their fish and chips to be the best in Bath. If the proof of such a testimony can really only be verified by genuine word-of-mouth recommendations from folk who really know their stuff, then that board deserves every inch of the pavement space that it proudly dominates.
Fancy joining the chattering classes? Head for a table in the bar (or better still, outside on one of the terrace tables when the sun comes out to play), place your order for fish and chips and expect to indulge in a catch of the day as sweet, sumptuous and fresh as can be, bathed in a cloud of beer batter and accompanied by crushed peas, real tartare sauce and the fattest, crispest triple-cooked chips sent direct from chip heaven (and if such a place really does exist, these beauties really do qualify for the job of gatekeeper). And the price for such piscatorial perfection? An easygoing £12.95 – happy days indeed.
Garrick’s Head, St John’s Place,
Bath BA1 1ET
Tel: 01225 318368