20 November 2008
5 Stoney Street
Tel: 020 7407 5777
STAY SIMPLE IS THE LESSON AT THE FISH SCHOOL OF THOUGHT
By John Prendergast
IT'S FRIDAY night so it must be fish and chips for tea. 'That's right Johnny run along to Tony's and pick up cod and chips for the family' mum would cry.
With the heat from battered cod and chips pressed hard against my chest, I would run home along the cobbled pavements and watch as the family tucked in with delight when I got home.
Of course life was nothing like that, it was more 'Here's two quid for dinner while i’m off to bingo, and if you smash anything you'll get it'. But still, there is something enticing and exciting about this classic British meal that brings a smile to your face instantly.
My old mucker the Buffet King (BK) joined me on my latest Friday night out, and we decided to take in the old favourite before we tripped the light fantastic later on.
Applebee's of course is no traditional fish and chip shop. It doubles as an excellent fishmonger during the day, with a restaurant out back during the afternoons and evenings. It's definitely more of your posh fish and chip shop than your high street chippy.
Although the traditional battered cod and chips is on offer, there is also a deluxe version of a myriad of exciting fishes on offer - and interestingly a steak option for those that would go to a fishmongers for meat!
Looking to line our stomachs for the evening, we set about our starters with relish. BK went for the squid and I opted for the prawns. I forgot just how finicky prawns are, and once I had wrestled off the shells with the panache of a cack handed elephant I found the result quite pleasant, although the chilli dressing could have done with a spicier kick.
The squid was delicious, lovely and succulent and set off by the grapefruit which gave the dish a nice contrast.
At this point of the evening I took a punt. I could have stuck with a lovely piece of sea bass, cod, tuna or monkfish, but was intrigued by the spaghetti options. So I plumped for one of the two on show, and hoped for the best.
The moment the food arrived I knew my gamble had failed. We have all been there in a restaurant where you see somebody else's plate and wish you had that. That is where I was at. While BK's instincts had kicked in and ordered, effectively, Davy Jones Locker on a plate, mine looked paltry in comparison.
Size is not everything as my Mrs never tells me, so I thought what it lacked in quantity of fish it may make up for in taste. Sadly it didn't, as the scallops and mussels were rather lost amongst everything else on the plate, all of which lacked a discernible flavour.
BK was revelling in his choice however and I finally understood what Cantona was banging on about when discussing trawlers and the seagulls that wait for the fish they throw off. For the only real good seafood I had all evening was what the BK gave me off his platter.
The dish was simple and let the fish do the talking. The stars of the show were the salmon, tuna and mackerel and showed the restaurant in its best light, cooking the good ingredients it gets every day with little fuss.
At that moment I hated him. I was outmanoeuvred on the menu front and felt cheated. Of course his tactics were no more than picking the most expensive thing, but it had paid off.
For all the deliciousness of the pick, it was very pricey as were most other options. Most mains were at least £13 and while it is a step up from standard fare for me it was still costly.
It was early evening when we were there and the restaurant was doing a swift trade. Most punters were like BK and myself by having a pit stop before going elsewhere or popping in on the way home from work.
While the staff were more than friendly the atmosphere did feel a little clinical. But this is a minor criticism.
I think I would return to this restaurant in future but I would stick to what its good at and that is pan fried or grilled fish. The spaghetti option was a real low point in an otherwise pleasant evening.
As I rolled BK out of the door, with him having eaten most of the Atlantic Ocean, we set off for a night’s drinking with dancing now out of the question due to his inability to move and my innate lack of natural rhythm.
Roasted Squid with Grapefruit, Anchovies and Lamb Lettuce £6.50
Grilled Prawns, Rocket and Sweet Chilli Dressing £7
Applebee's Grilled Mixed Fish Platter with hand cut chips £18.50
Fresh Home Made Tagliolini with Queen Scallops, Mussels, Spring Onion and Cherry Tomatoes £13
4 x Asahi Lager £12
FOOD (1-5) 3
AMBIENCE (1-5) 3
PRICE VALUE (1-5) 3
DISABLED ACCESS YES
DISABLED TOILET YES
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