London Eating--great seafood? St. John?

Old Apr 1st, 2009, 11:29 AM
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RM67 has got it right.

Plaice is often - though not always - available at proper chip shops. It's not that often ordered, partly because a lot of people don't like the taste that much. The reason you're aware of it is that chip shops, like fireplace shops, have an uncanny habit of attracting horrible puns as their brandname. Puns on cod are both incomprehensibly erudite and mildly filthy, and rock has such a horrible reputation no-one would name their shop after it. Sole and plaice, though, are perfect pun fodder - both on the shopfront and in the kind of bad tourist journalism American newspapers go in for, but this forum is mercifully free of.
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Old Apr 1st, 2009, 01:02 PM
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ek,

Here is our dinner from Hereford Road.
Like I stated above, it is small, maybe 30 seats. More modern decor. We booked in advance through their website.

A friend & his wife joined us that night, so we sampled a few other dishes, as well.

Wine for the evening was a Burgundy. My friend doesn't really drink & his wife is pregnant, so they did not partake.

Started with the black pudding, simple presentation with an egg, very good. L had the beetroot salad, which she thoroughly enjoyed & our friends split the sardines, which were very nice.

For our mains, I had the pork belly (great crispy skin). L had the Guinea fowl, which was excellent & our friends ordered the steak & kidney pie for 2. I thought their steak & kidney pie was quite good (although it was the 1st time I have ever tried it).

Dessert we split a buttermilk pudding & the sticky date pudding. Both were very good.

I thought the food was quite good. The service ok, I was never sure who our waiter was that evening.

I think you could probably find something on either menu for your dining companion.

Will
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Old Apr 1st, 2009, 01:38 PM
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One thing about Rock and Sole Plaice, they rang up my charge card in dollars rather than pounds without asking me. When I protested, they said their "machine" couldn't do it any other way with a U.S. card. I had the charge voided and paid in cash. Later, John, manager at the Morgan Hotel, said that it is illegal to charge in dollars without asking and that no "machine" is incapable of charging in pounds.
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Old Apr 1st, 2009, 02:22 PM
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The place I really, really enjoyed for fish and chips in London the time I went was Masters Super Fish (near the Old Vic Theatre, not far from the Waterloo tube stop), which I liked much better than Rock and Sole Plaice. I thought the fact that cabbies and police were eating there was a good sign, and it turned out to be. Found out about it at the Chowhound website, which is a valuable resource for eating out.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 02:38 AM
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This is great information!

Will: I love pork belly and guinea fowl, so that dinner at Hereford Road sounds particularly good. The challenge will be that I only have 3 nights! Maybe substitute Hereford Road for St.John???

Please keep the great information coming! Many thanks!
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 02:47 AM
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Were it me I'd stick with St. John's over Hereford Rd. Hereford Rd was excellent (hmm, what did I have? sardines, followed lamb, followed by Eton mess? not sure, really, apart from the Eton mess, but that's because I'd drunk rather more champagne than necessary before dinner that night) but the decor's fairly modern and the food is actually more modern in execution than it sounds on the menu. St. John's feels genuinely different from other places, IMO, and for that reason I'd stay with it.

Either of these restaurants will be a bit of a challenge with a timid diner, but not an insurmountable one.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 03:23 AM
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Thanks, Therese! I would prefer St.John and am trying to work up the courage to show the St. John menu to my partner-he has already nixed the idea of the squirrel!

Have you read this article, which mentions both places?


http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandsty...ohn-restaurant
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 04:05 AM
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When I was growing up, in England, cod was the default fish in chippies and haddock and plaice were the alternatives (and a bit more expensive). I agree you don't see plaice as much now and I myself went off the taste when I got older. Not that I am at all averse to 'fishy' tasting fisk (?!?). Here in Scotland, haddock is the default.

Buying cod is a bit of a minefield. Until recently all cod from British waters was bad but Icelandic was OK (and still is). As far as I can reconcile conflicting stories, the North Sea off England and the waters off the west coast of Scotland are still bad. However stocks are right up in the North Sea off Scotland, fisherman are having to throw them back and are pressing for a quota increase. So I occasionally buy it at our local farmers' market (from an Eyemouth fish merchant) in the hope it's OK, probably just by-catch anyway and would be thrown back (dead) otherwise.

I don't think there's much chance of most chippies knowing or caring where their cod comes from, though. (Although in Sheffield last weekend I was interested to note the opening of something like 'The Green Chippie' advertising sustainable fish.)

But if you are only going to have it *once* in your life, I wouldn't worry about it

And you have to go to St John so you can tell us all about it !! Seriously, it is the very top of my restaurant wishlist.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 04:17 AM
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I've wanted to go to St John for ages.

The pudding menu always looks great (they do Sussex Pond Pudding) - but some of the mains scare me a bit. They do generally have at least one thing for less adventurous eaters though - like roast Gloucester Old Spot.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 06:01 AM
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In high-end shops, they maintain separate fryers for offal fish and gourmet species for this reason.>>>

No they don't.

ps I like rock eel - aka rock salmon or huss. Each to their won and all that
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 07:01 AM
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No, ekscrunchy, I hadn't seen the article, but certainly his influence has been widespread. Having spent my childhood on my grandmother's farm (where we quite literally grew or reared almost everything we ate) I find statements like "Nature writes the menu for you" to be self-evident, but clearly that isn't the case for everybody.

I wouldn't worry about your partner's finding something that suits at St. John's. He'll manage.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 07:10 AM
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Eks..I'll be looking forward to your trip report when you return from London. You always give such good "foodie" reports!
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 10:01 AM
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<I>RM67 on Apr 1, 09 at 01:20 PM

I have never been into a fish and chip shop that served fried onions.

Nor have I been to a chippy that batters lemon sole, sea bass, red mullet, monkfish or any other 'posh' fish.</i>

All I can do is to believe that you haven't. I have.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 10:35 AM
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One point in Caroline's excellent note on cod is dangerously misleading.

When she says English cod is "bad" she means "politically incorrect". There's an enormous hoo-ha here about overfishing, and the fact that North Atlantic cod is close to extinction. The subtleties of the argument elude me (not an admission I usually make about anything) - and anyone who says different is either deluded or a lobbyist for one or other interest group. But just about everyone agrees that, by eating certain kinds of cod, or cod caught in certain ways, you're contributing to the imminent disappearance of a species that's been as important as sheep to European culture and livelihoods.

No-one's ever claimed cod's bad in any other way.

Properly cooked, there's no such thing as cod that's not tasty (though in the kind of crap kebab shop that sells cod as well as fried onions and dubious chicken, or the sort of ponceteria that sells sea bass, badly-cooked cod turns into cardboard you can't even use to wrap things in). Unlike mackerel, there's no food chain problem leading to mercury poisoning if you eat too much. I've never encountered "off" cod in half a century of fried fish addiction.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 11:50 AM
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The Conran chain went through a phase of not serving cod at any of its restaurants to try to help with the overfishing problem. They had little notes on the bar and restaurant tables telling you why they wouldn't serve it, and what you could have (fishwise) instead. I thought it was quite an admirable thing to do.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 12:35 PM
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To get away from the fish and chips for a minute, I got the go-ahead to eat at St. John, so will be sure to report back in great detail after I return home!

Ok, back to the chippies..
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Old Apr 3rd, 2009, 05:31 AM
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Where - on God's good earth - is the chippy selling battered sea bass? I must be told - so I can burn it down.
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Old Apr 8th, 2009, 05:38 AM
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What an exciting review of eateries in London! Thanks to all as well for the info; I am planning a spring trip also.
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Old Apr 10th, 2009, 08:32 AM
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Thanks for that clarification, flanner - it hadn't occurred to me that what I said was capable of misinterpretation.

Interestingly DH had plaice the other day, I tasted it and found it nice despite having previously said I no longer like it. We subsequently found that Hugh Fearlessly-Eatsitall says it's one of those fish which does spoil very quickly, so I guess I must have been previously put off it by having less than spanking fresh specimans once or twice. I'm the same with mackerel - I find I can only enjoy it from the best of sources (i.e. not a supermarket), otherwise it tastes too strong and oily for me.

eks, excellent news that you are going to St John ! Will await your report eagerly. Thinks - you have maybe already been now, have you ? I noticed a review (good) for your BIL's play the other day.
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Old Apr 10th, 2009, 08:49 AM
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