25 January 2010

Oh For Fish & Chips

It’s only fair and natural that a Scottish chippie has scooped the title of best fish and chip shop in the UK for the third year running. And it’s not the deep fried pizzas or battered haggis which won it the prize. Nope, the days of simply testing the crispness of the batter and the firmness of the chips is long gone. These days, the contest, now in its 22nd year, rewards the shops producing the best fish and chips, as well as raising industry standards in areas including seafood sustainability, customer service, training and innovation.

Giovanni Fionda (obviously of Italian extraction), of the Atlantic Fast Food chippie, in Coatbridge, near Glasgow, battered the competition (pun intended) to scoop the coveted crown although I bet many of his customers have absolutely no idea, or even care, about seafood sustainability! And as for customer service, like many chippies, the majority of the service is performed across a high counter so what that’s all about is also probably baffling them.

Ten shops were shortlisted for last week's London finals but Mr Fionda, whose family have been in the business for about 40 years, emerged with the title of National Fish and Chip Shop of the Year.

It’s one thing I miss now that I’m not travelling back to the UK so often these days.

I was ‘lucky’ enough to have a Glasgow client at one stage when I was based in London and on the first night I arrived (usually a Sunday night), I would dash down to the fish and chip shop under the Argyle Street bridge and order the ‘large special fish supper’.

I waited patiently as my ‘special fish’ was dipped in batter or egg and then a secret mix of breadcrumbs (or something – it was always a mystery) which was then carefully fried before being wrapped up in the iconic newspaper with obviously a more hygienic paper protecting the food. I then dashed back to my hotel which was only a couple of hundred yards away with my dinner, complete with a can of Irn Bru. I used to desperately hope that the lift to my floor would be empty as the overpowering smell of the fish and chips with lashings of malt vinegar would still permeate the air the following morning.

And then the deal finished and Glasgow was no longer a weekly trip to fish and chip heaven.

However on the occasions when London was particularly busy and I was ‘billeted’ in a smaller hotel in the Angel I was lucky enough to find a great chippie across the road but the problem was trying to get them when they had haddock on the menu and they weren’t too busy to accede to my request to take all the skin off!

So have a look at the Atlantic menu (below) and note – no skate wings, no coley, no cod – just good old haddock and my particular favourite – deep fried pizzas! They’ve even got deep fried Mars Bars! Now I've got my deep fat fryer I'll be trying to replicate the Atlantic soon.


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