Fish & Grill
48-50 South End
Croydon CRO 1DP
Tel. 0208 774 4060
Food type: British
Food rating: 3/10
Nearest tube: South Croydon (Overground Train)
Website: Fish & Grill
As I am ‘working’ in Croydon – and I use the term work very loosely since I don’t actually get paid but I do slog like a <insert species of a random animal> from 9 am to 6.30 pm – I thought it would be a good idea to try out some of the eateries around the area during my lunch break. One of place that had caught my attention was Le Cassoulet (as highlighted by an American in London way before it received a Bib Gourmand). Unfortunately, my geographical and path-finding skills left a lot to be desired as I simply could not find the restaurant. Thankfully, on my bus ride towards South Croydon I chanced upon Fish & Grill, a new restaurant by Malcolm John, owner of Le Cassoulet and Vacherin.
Malcolm John, one of only a handful of Afro-Carribean executive chefs plying their trade in London (and no Ainsley doesn’t count), started his culinary career in 1982 at the De Vere Hotel working as a commis chef. He then trained with the Savoy Group for 6 years before moving on to work in Italy. In 1995, John took on the role of executive sous chef at the Café Royal where he worked under Herbert Berger. Following that he had stints as Head Chef at St. Quentin and the Blue Bird Private Members Club before opening Le Vacherin (in Chiswick). His second restaurant, Le Cassoulet opened in 2008 to great appreciation of the Croydon denizens. (a review of Le Cassoulet will follow shortly)
The restaurant has wooden floors, bright sensible lighting and a small seafood bar right in the middle. Wooden tables are bare with no table cloth in sight. High back seats and leather banquettes along with art deco prints give the room a modern, contemporary feel. A small bar with high stools greets you as you enter where you can enjoy an apperitif before you move to your table.
The cooking here is pretty straightforward offering no thrills or frills. The aim is to offer high quality seafood and meat grilled to your liking. Of course, there are other classic items on the menu but don’t expect any avant garde cooking. The menu and wine list are printed on a piece of paper which serves double function as a placemat. Starters are priced between £4.95 – £10.95 with a platter of Fruis de Mer at £16.95 (or £30 for 2), Mains between £12 – 32, Side Dishes £2.95 – £3.50 and Desserts £5.50 – £6.25. Lunch is an absolute bargain at £14.95 for 3 courses especially when it includes an option for a Rump Steak. Fish is sourced daily mainly from a company called South Coast who get their supply from (surprise surprise) the South Coast – mainly Cornwall but also Eastbourne and Brighton. The beef here is 28-day aged Aberdeen Angus while pork and lamb are rare-breed animals. In short, despite its location, great care is placed on the sourcing of their products.
Brown bread is served warm in a small paper bag and was of decent quality, served with some good quality unsalted butter. This had good crust but like a lot of bread, suffer from a lack of salt. (2/10)
I tried a stellar tuna tartare – the fish chopped (not minced) into small cubes which gave the dish plenty of texture. This was garnished in a Japanese inspired manner with julienne of white radish (daikon) and a dressing of ginger, lime and sesame with a dab of wasabi on the side. This was well composed with the different components coming together well without detracting from the delicate flavour of the tuna. I personally could have done with a splodge more wasabi although it is perfectly understandable that they limited its amount to cater to the palates of the locals. As a matter of comparison, I enjoyed a similar dish at Foliage last July and the version there wins hands down with its wide range of textures and temperatures. (5/10)
A main course of octopus and ham hock cassoulet was served in a pot at the side. The octopus had been given tender loving cooking time with a melt-in-your-mouth texture and no hint of residual chewiness. Ham hock gave the dish an element of meatiness although the whole stew itself seem to be stuck in a single dimension flavour-wise. (2/10) A side order of buttered cabbage was timed well.
Bakewell Tart with Raspberry Ripple Ice-Cream
I finished with a decent Bakewell tart. Traditionally, this dessert contains a layer of jam in between the sweet pastry crust and the frangipane. Here, it was studded with raspberries which were allowed to cook with the tart. The tart had good almond flavour and texture with the raspberry ripple ice-cream (served in a tuile basket) adding some acidity to balance the sweetness of the dish. (3/10) In case you are wondering, no I did not order a bakewell tart because it was recently featured on the Great British Menu. (My visit to Fish & Grill was prior to the dessert course being aired)
Service was friendly and attentive, and so it should be with only three other tables occupied. There was a grand total of eight people (including myself) dining on the Monday that I visited although the restaurant enjoys brisk business during the weekends.
I found the cooking here to be pleasant enough although obviously I only tried a small sample of what their menu had to offer. Nevertheless, the seafood was fresh and it is good to see that great care has been placed on the sourcing of ingredients. This is by far the best restaurant in the culinary wasteland that is Croydon.