It's been two years since we last sat down to a meal together, back in the days of blue trays, set mealtimes, long dining tables and frighteningly greasy food. For the past 4 years, birthdays have been somewhat of a joint affair, with the three Taureans celebrating our birthdays just days apart from each other. This year, the recently self-declared pescatarian chose (rather fittingly) Fishworks from the extensive list on Toptable as the setting for a much needed night away from the books and a surprise visit from a dear friend whom we had not seen for half the time we've known her.
7-9 Swallow Street
London W1B 4DE
Fishworks is the first of the row of seafood restaurants and oyster bars that are tucked away on Swallow Street, just a stone's throw away from Piccadilly Circus. With our collective weakness for seafood and the fact that we would get 50% off all food, Fishworks was a clear choice. Making a reservation seemed like the smart thing to do as we walked into a crowded restaurant - it appeared to have attracted the "after-work" crowd of women in smart dresses and men with their collars unbuttoned. Upon entry, one is greeted by the sight of a fishmonger standing behind a counter of fresh seafood, something that while provided testament to the freshness of their ingredients, didn't quite impress the portion of our party that had been to Billingsgate Market.
Potted Brown Shrimps - my pick to kick of the meal. I'd never had anything "potted" before so it did still come as a bit of a surprise (despite the name) that the shrimp came in an adorable little jar. I would describe it as a sort of buttery prawn pate which I discovered (while flipping through the Jamie Oliver cookbook that's a permanent feature on our kitchen table) is quite a traditional British dish.
Fishworks Cocktail with Crevettes, Brown Shrimps & Prawns
Goujons of Sole or Plaice with Tartare Sauce. Light, crisp and not greasy, this was beautifully fried.
"You can actually taste the pickle in it"
Hand Beer-Battered Fish & Chips. The Texan who had only been in London for all of 10 hours was eager to dig into some good old fish and chips. While it was in general a good serving of the traditional fare, extra props has to be given to the authenticity of the tartare sauce.
Smoked Haddock with Poached Egg, New Potatoes and Mustard Hollandaise
Fishworks Ocean Platter for Two to Share - a mix of hot and cold seafood, this satisfied every seafood craving. With a generous amount of oysters, mussels, cockles, clams, crevettes and cracked crab on the lower tier and grilled fillet of bass, prawns, squid, scallops, fillet of bream, organic salmon fillet on the upper deck, this was what made it all worthwhile. I particularly enjoyed the fillet of bream and squid which were very nicely marinated and cooked just about right.
Fruits de Mer - The shellfish classic of oysters, crevettes, cockles, clams, mussels and crab served with lemon & aïoli on a bed of ice. Not content with our huge platters, we decided that a large serving of shellfish was in order. I loved how fresh everthing was - the delicious mussels, the sweet crevettes with soft edible shells, the succulent crab.
A mixed selection of oysters, recommended by our waiter.
We created a ruckus, catching up over mountains of seafood and simply enjoying the fact that we could leave the stress of exams at home for a couple of hours. The food was definitely worth the rather long wait - fresh, nicely prepared and with 50% off as icing to the cake.
To cap off a glorious meal, Pattiserie Valerie's chocolate, strawberry and banana gateau.
Oh, how we spoil ourselves.