One of a range of delicious new classic English dishes at Fish! restaurant
“If the fish is not fresh, it’s pointless,” says executive chef Nick Melmoth-Coombs simply, when probed about the principles that underlie his cooking at Fish! restaurant. It’s a standard that’s maintained across the menu—and the components of this particular dish are no exception.
A bed of homemade bubble and squeak and wilted spinach, piled with steamed smoked haddock and a generous dollop of hollandaise sauce, topped with a perfectly firm yet satisfyingly runny-yolked poached egg. “It’s a stand out dish—it is really very good, and incredibly popular.”
Tony Allen, owner of Fish! restaurants and sister fishmongers Jarvis in Kingston, “does all of the fish buying at Billingsgate fish market,” Nick explains. “The haddock is smoked on site at Jarvis, then brought to the restaurant fresh each day.”
The hollandaise is made from scratch—“We don’t do powder—it has to be fresh”. The veg and eggs are from the Ted’s Veg farm in Lincolnshire. “A huge proportion of what we use is from the Market. It’s great to be able to just stroll over there, see it, feel it, touch it, taste it before you buy an ingredient.”
Range and quality
The dish is one of many that appeared on the menu following a refurbishment earlier this year. “It is a completely new menu,” Nick continues. “It’s based on our original menu, of course—we are a fish restaurant, we sell fish!—but we have increased the range and quality of the dishes, as well as the technical content. It’s paid dividends; we’re very busy”
With such a tantalising array of choices, we can see why: dishes such as rock oysters from Dorset with shallot vinegar, Portland crab meat with mayo on toast and Dover sole on the bone with new potatoes sit next to a selection of classic non-fish dishes, such as grilled spatchcock spring chicken from Wyndham House Poultry with garlic butter, rocket and tomato, and Sillfield Farm cumberland sausages with mash and red wine onion gravy.
While the pairing of bubble and squeak and fish may not be something you’ve tried, it’s proved a fine merging of simple yet traditional English (in this case, breakfast) fare—a talent for which the restaurant is known and appreciated—and its popularity with customers has endured.
“This particular combination is new, but we have been doing bubble and squeak with scallops, black pudding and our own red wine fish gravy, in various guises, as part of our brunch menu for quite a long time,” says Nick. “The bubble and squeak with spinach adds a really nice dimension to the dish, and it works brilliantly with the hollandaise. For me, it’s an all-round, comfort dish.”