Fiona McKellar heads to Simply Fish's newest restaurant in Camden, to see if lives up to its well regarded name.
From the outside you can clearly see it is a new addition to the tired bars and restaurants that line Inverness street in Camden. It is difficult to see what lies inside, but once you step in you are presented with a warm, informal canteen setting that makes good use of its small size, without feeling like you are sitting in the laps of strangers.
The menu is well laid out and well, rather simple really. It seems not to overwhelm with too much choice, but on closer inspection, there is plenty of variety and the promise of serious flavour packed within the humble menu. Filtered water is complementary and there is a selection of wine and beer to choose from, although we had a sneak peek of what was to come by way of a tasty Italian Pinot Grigio. The general manager has a great energy and passion for what he has helped create and a personality to match the colour of Camden.
It is also clear that the prices are more than affordable with a selection of hot and cold plates and appetisers starting from £4. Given the cool night outside, the hot plates were too hard to overlook and we enjoyed the sizzling prawns in garlic and chilli which packed a good punch and some melt in your mouth flavours. The Cornish mussels in coconut and lemongrass sauce were refreshing in contrast and a fantastic way to warm up.
Moving on to the main, the pick your fish section is a clever idea that allows you to customise your meal and provide a culinary combination of tastes and flavours. You choose your seafood; Pollock, Cod, Salmon, Sea Bass, Tiger prawns (to name a few). Select how you want it cooked; baked, steamed, pan fried or tempura battered. You then add your sauce from an exotic selection including citrus anchovy butter, sweet and sour chilli, salsa Verde and Thai coconut. Finally you add a couple of accompaniments such as crushed peas, fresh cut chips, noodles, salads, seasonal vegetables, pak choy, ginger and garlic and viola! A dish to rival any of Rick Stein’s.
There is also a selection of specials that cater for the less creative, or those that are happy to select a tried and tested taste sensation – here you have a short selection that ranges from your Simplyfish Cod and fresh cut chips with crushed peas and tartar sauce to Asian, Italian and Spanish seafood inspired dishes. The Mediterranean fish stew with rustic bread was too hard to resist and it did not disappoint. The flavours were so intense you could tell it had been cooked for a while and with love. Two helpings of the rustic bread were required to enjoy all the sauce!
The quality and freshness of the food is evident and the food is presented simply, rustically and beautifully topped with a generous garnish of fresh herbs. They proudly declare that all fish and seafood is sourced from sustainable fisheries and delivered daily from Cornwall. Even though it contradicts their very core, there is a selection of ‘not so fishy’ dishes to appease those that would prefer a burger or steak. Vegetarian options are also available.
A small but very tasty selection of deserts are priced at £5 per indulgence. Temptations such as apple and cinnamon frangipane with clotted cream and chocolate brownie with crème anglaise jumped from the page, but sadly we did not have time, this time, to enjoy.
It is easy to say that this is a welcome addition and a hidden gem in Camden. The freshness, colour and quality of the food really stand out. While you can choose to eat in, takeaway is also an option and for those in the not too distant hood, delivery may soon be on the cards! Simply fish is quite simply scrumptious.
Written by Fiona McKellar