What’s the one dish people associate with Britain?
Fish ’n’ chips, with a side order of relentless drizzle. Celebrating the essentials of modern Britain in a stodgy melange of batter and starch, it’s one of those dishes that’s offered everywhere but which rarely achieves greatness.
Seafresh is a rarity in London – a traditional British fish bar, without any gimmicks, serving quality fresh fish at reasonable prices. And it shows in the clientele, a mixture which speaks of impressive customer retention. Grizzled locals, old folks, wide-eyed tourists, day-trippers and off-duty nine-to-fivers all pour in to sample a traditional delight done right, watched over by head chef and owner Mario Leonidou, who’s been serving fish ’n’ chips for more than 20 years.
As new customers walk in they shake his hand and enjoy a quick catch-up. This is a restaurant of the community – and how often can you say that in SW1?
Tucking into my cod and chips, the first thing I notice is how meaty the fish is, breaking into thick chunks reminiscent of icebergs, rather than flaking into strands like cheap tissue paper. It tastes fresh and juicy, totally unlike the frozen fillets my mum would try and palm the ten-year-old me off with on a Friday evening in lieu of an actual takeaway. The batter makes a deep, satisfying crunch when bitten into, and the chips have just the right balance of fluffy potato to salty skin. The whole meal feels satisfying, robust, and at £11.75 excellent value in the heart of London.
Seafresh can do delicate, too. Our starter was a intelligently laid out seafood platter, an aquarium of antipasti, serving all the classic fruits of the sea. Calamari are lightly fried and tender, king prawns are crunchy and perfectly seasoned, and the texture of the scallops is worth taking time over. Meanwhile we’re also served a steaming basket of quartered pitta bread with a pot of freshly made tzatziki, a moreish tribute to the restaurant’s Hellenic heritage.
With so many restaurants in London nowadays focusing more on gimmicky, self-indulgent ‘concepts’ than preparing good food, it’s refreshing to find an old-school, grub-oriented fish ‘n’ chips diner that has its priorities in order. If you’re in central London and fancy a bite of something traditional, you could certainly do far worse. As any tourist will tell you, this is what British food is all about. Well, that, and the relentless grey drizzle.
80-81 Wilton Rd
Tel: 020 7828 0747