S&C’s food critic, Emily Priest, returns this week with a new delicious destination on her Southsea Food Tour, the poshest fish and chip shop in Southsea, The Fisherman’s Kitchen.
Recently, I’ve been in need of flavour and colour to brighten up my dreary winter days but where should I go to find it? Southsea bustles with great food choices and there is always a new place to tempt me. But with the recent bitter weather, I needed something special to bring back the sunshine. I found myself at Clarendon Road’s newest culinary addition – The Fisherman’s Kitchen.
And what a great decision it turned out to be.
Opened in August this year, The Fisherman’s Kitchen aims to add a unique twist to an English classic. Though Southsea has its share of fish and chip shops, they can’t compete with the sheer ubiquity of coffee shops in the area, and there are few fish and chip restaurants where you can sit down and have a meal. After my enjoyable trip to the Deep Blue restaurant on the pier, I wondered if this new establishment, of similar grain, would be as good.
Spoiler alert: it was even better!
The Fisherman’s Kitchen’s exterior is eye-catching with a vibrant turquoise sign and inside is just as colourful and fresh with blue tiles, copper tables, wooden chairs, chalkboards and mirrors with fish decals. It is airy and clean, pristine even.
As I entered, I was met by a friendly member of staff who was also more than presentable, so already we were off to a good start.
The opening times for The Fisherman’s Kitchen are what you’d expect from your average chip shop:
Monday to Thursday
11:30am to 2:30pm
4:00pm to 9:00pm
Friday to Saturday
11:30am to 10:00pm
11:30am to 8:00pm
There is a takeaway option but delivery has not been added yet.
The menu is fairly large with lots of seafood choices including calamari, crab burgers, moules mariniere chowder and a Malaysian seafood curry. There are traditional options too including fish and chips with a choice of bass, cod or hake and sausages either battered, plain or with an onion crumb. They have some unique items but sadly their vegetarian options are limited to only two – halloumi burger or veggie fish (battered halloumi) and chips.
The Kitchen always have specials on offer, including their famous loaded chips which boast mouthwatering toppings. When I visited, the ultimate cheesy chips with four different kinds of cheese was tempting customers, covered in halloumi, mozzarella, parmesan and cheddar. On other visits, I have seen cheese and bacon, and even roast beef.
Grabbing a napkin to wipe away my drool, I ordered tempura prawns and curry sauce. My friend went with the battered bass. Both came with unlimited chips. For a drink, I chose the Blood Orange Lemonaid, a tasty organic fruit drink with a gentle fizz.
My drink arrived alongside napkins and cutlery as we waited for the food, while Bruce Springsteen belted out Hungry Heart in the background. A smile played on my lips. The atmosphere was just right – warm and welcoming.
On my previous visit, I ordered the seafood curry (see right) which was presented to me on a large white plate. There was a heap of coconut rice and a creamy sauce holding thick chunks of cod cheeks, monkfish, king prawns and scallops. It’s the most expensive thing on the menu at £13.50 but that’s still a reasonable price. The portion was generous and the flavours erupted in my mouth. The curry wasn’t too spicy and was similar to a Thai Green with a slight kick behind the fragrant mouthfuls. There was plenty of fish with every bite. Highly recommended.
On this visit, I was struck by how beautifully the meals were presented. Four fat prawns were placed on a wooden board next to a tin pot bursting with steaming chips. It came with a garnish and a side pot of tartare. The batter was golden and delicate and the prawns were chunky curls. In one bite, there was so much flavour and the batter, unlike most, was rich and light, although a few had bottoms that were a tad soggy.
The chips were some of the best I have tried in a long time. Thick cut. Crispy on the outside. Fluffy on the inside. You could tell they were cooked fresh rather than left in the chip box to go soggy and hard over the course of the day.
The sauces – curry and tartare – were flavoursome. The curry sauce was orange, creamy, sweet and slightly spicy. If you closed your eyes you could be fooled that you were in an actual Indian restaurant. The tartare was slightly different from normal. It was thick, with a mustardy after-taste, and its tanginess complemented the fish brilliantly.
The bass was interesting. The batter was light and crispy, made with ginger beer and coriander. The result was a unique batter with a fragrant after-taste that really added something extra to the soft, white fish inside.
The waiter cleared the plates and offered us dessert – a battered brownie with hazelnut praline. Nursing my full stomach I refused. I could barely finish my whole meal, let alone a dessert too!
The price was very reasonable at £24 for two people. At £12 each for a drink and a large, fresh, high-quality meal you can’t go wrong.
The Fisherman’s Kitchen is one of Portsmouth’s foodie assets and is a top contender for one of my favourite eateries. Its atmosphere is lively and vibrant and the food is unique, affordable and nothing short of mouthwatering. The only downside is their lack of vegetarian options.
If you are looking to eat fresh food, bursting with character and colour then I definitely recommend The Fisherman’s Kitchen – the new kid on the Southsea block giving the traditional seaside fish ‘n’ chip shop a run for its money.
Photography by Emily Priest