You might recall I visited a fish and chip restaurant called Sutton & Sons at Boxpark in Shoreditch over the Summer. It didn’t blow me away. The food was great, but the venue just didn’t do it for me – it felt like a lot to pay (and a long time to wait) for a fish and chips takeaway experience. When I saw that they had a restaurant in Stoke Newington (where their fishmongers are based), I was keen to try it out to see how the experience would differ. And then a couple of weeks ago, I was invited to try out their brand new restaurant on Essex Road in Islington. On a Sunday lunchtime, Tim and I headed up there to see what it was all about. I can tell you right now, we were very impressed! And having grown up in Cyprus with beautiful fresh fish available all year round, we had high expectations.
We were warmly greeted by Matthew Drummy, who talked us through the business. He’s been with Sutton and Sons for over a decade, starting out cleaning out the fish at the fishmongers (!), so he really knew his stuff!
From the outside, the restaurant does look a bit like a takeaway, and while it does offer this service, it also has a great restaurant (with extra seating downstairs), serving three course meals and alcohol, with waiter/waitress table service – not like your typical chippy, I think you’ll agree.
Prior to Sutton and Sons, the restaurant was owned by another fish and chip business which the owner had run his whole life. This building has a serious fish pedigree!
After quenching our thirst with some beers (I went for the Hackney Brewery pale ale, which was lovely, and nice to support another local business) we ordered the whitebait in breadcrumbs (one of Tim’s favourites) and half a pint of prawns. These were served with bread and butter, tartar sauce and aioli.
I was instantly impressed with the whitebait – in the past, I’ve had them when they’ve been lightly cooked in batter, and they felt a bit oily and so crunchy that you really knew you were biting into a (albeit small!) fish. A bit like soft shell crab, which I still haven’t quite come to terms with. These were soft (more like a goujon) and were so incredibly tasty. The prawns were big and meaty, served cold – simple and delicious.
For the main course, Tim ordered the cod and I went for something a bit more unusual – the coley. Tim had tried it before but I was admittedly a coley virgin! Matthew explained that it’s a great fish for traditional ‘fish and chips’ but it has a slightly darker meat and stronger flavour. It’s one of the least expensive fish in the cod family and is a great sustainable substitute for cod or haddock in many recipes. I couldn’t wait to dig in! I tried a bit of Tim’s cod along with the coley. The cod was obviously more familiar and therefore instantly enjoyable – the coley was more unusual but absolutely delicious. I really enjoyed the flavour.
We thought we would burst when we’d polished off all of this good grub, but then we were offered dessert…and it just looked too good to resist! We tried the sticky toffee pudding and cheesecake, both of which were rich and lovely!
So if you’re a North Londoner, what are you waiting for? Please go and check this place out! Even if you’re not from the area, it was still worth the trek from Tooting for us!
I thought I’d end on something quite amusing – Sutton & Sons are also selling deep fried Brussels sprouts this month. Not to everyone’s tastes I’m sure, but hey, it’s Christmas!
I was invited to review Sutton & Sons by The Wern and Sutton & Sons, but did not receive any payment. All views are my own.