Given fish and chips is one of our national dishes, it is somewhat surprising when you ask your friends when was the last time they enjoyed this national delight: the answer is mostly I don’t remember. Why are we not enjoying the classic British dish more bar the occasional visit to the seaside? We have been waiting for kitchens to reinvent the image of fish and chips to make it contemporary and relevant: step forward Hook restaurants.
They started out as a simple food stall in Dublin in 2011, but with their clean image, “new-school” concept on the dish, they now own 2 restaurants in London. All dishes are made on-site down to their own sauces and they only work with 100% sustainable fisheries and use packaging that is fully recyclable, even down to the takeaway cutlery which is 100% biodegradable corn starch.
You won’t find the fish on their online menu, because it is updated daily depending on the catch. When we visited their Camden branch, they had cod for their classic panko and sea bream for their in flavoured tempura batter. We tried their tempura option with both piri piri with lime and lemon with basil. It was unsurprisingly much less oily than the classic option and subtly infused with flavours. The sea bream was white, tender and sea-fresh, although the meat did flake off quite easily compared to a sturdier fish like cod. They have 6 delectable sauces to accompany your fish; our favourite was the rich-tasting truffle and lemon Cajun but there are sauces to suit every taste.
For the chunky chips lovers, their seaweed-salted chips are addictively filling. Whilst their selection of starter small plates and sides are not extensive, it’s all about the quality here. We tried the curry, apple, mustard seed, octopus salad; it was flavoursome and the ideal dish for salad-haters who think salads can only be bland and tasteless. Unlike typical octopus dishes elsewhere, the meat was soft and moist.
They have a great list of well-chosen wines from local wine merchants and craft beer from small breweries. The highlights are the Cinsault, which unusually is a red wine that does go well with seafood because of its softness and bouquet and the wild goose chase beer from the wild beer company which has strong fruity gooseberry notes which ideally complemented the fish and chips.
With an open kitchen and ingredients-focused honest cooking, it is a wonder why no one else has thought of reinventing the humble fish and chips dish. Perhaps others have tried, but they certainly haven’t achieved the level of success that Hook has done so far.