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Review: New city centre fish and chip shop offers twist on British classic

A new city centre fish and chip shop offers a fresh twist of lemon over the classic cuisine – and to much success.

Expectations were high ahead of my visit to Fillet of Soul, which opened on September 30, as (for years) I’ve longed for a classic chippy in Birmingham city centre.

When entering the former Buffalo & Rye site on Bennett’s Hill, the first thing I noticed – and hopefully it’s not just me – was a bar staring me in the face.

Pale ales, ciders, lagers and stronger stuff too: cocktails of rum, gin, vodka.

A bar is nothing new, but in a chippy? I love the idea; why has no one ever thought of this before?

The Fillet of Soul’s beer range includes Camden Town Pale Ale (£4.50)

Maybe they have. But either way I’m sure Fillet of Soul, open until 10pm, will be very popular. Haddock and one final beer to go after a day’ out in the city centre? Why not?

Anyway, managing to pry myself away from the distraction of alcohol offerings, I gazed over the chippy menu embedded on a delightful lightbox.

A choice of cod, haddock, mini cod, fish goujons, scampi and chips – regular or large – all very appetising.

Specials include buttermilk fried-chicken tenders, banana blossom, sweetcorn hush puppies and loaded chips with homemade beef or vegan chilli.

There’s even a range of ice cream sundaes for dessert, if you’ve still got room.

Twilight delight: Amy Walsh with a plate of cod and chips outside of the Fillet of Soul, Bennetts Hill
Twilight delight: Amy Walsh with a plate of cod and chips outside of the Fillet of Soul, Bennetts Hill

But, deciding to play it straight, I asked for a classic of cod/chips with mushy peas and curry sauce as my sides.

As I sat down and waited for my dinner to arrive, I realised how authentically pleasing the takeaway- which could easily be described as a mini restaurant – is on the eye.

Upcycled pallets painted a cool shade of blue hang neatly above its front of house (the chefs cook in the back) and dim lighting brings sophistication to the eatery.

It’s very clean too. I know it opened less than a week ago, but it’s worth pointing out. Staff are working around the clock to keep everything in check.

FOOD

Less than ten minutes later my food (cooked fresh to order) was sat in front of me in a bowl; the fish perfectly aligned on top as lemon juices drizzled on to my chips below.

It’s handy Fillet of Soul has an incredibly comfortable dining area as I knew my belly was going to be popping out of my jeans by the meal’s end – and it was.

I dunked my chips into curry sauce first, naturally, followed by mushy peas. The sauces complimented the chips, cooked with beef dripping oil, perfectly.

Review: New city centre fish and chip shop offers twist on British classic
Cod and chips with a load of curry sauce

And the chips themselves were flawlessly crispy which is always, in my opinion, a good barometer of how good a chippy is.

The freshly-white cod, again crispy, had just the right amount of toughness.

The fish melted in my mouth (especially when I tipped the remainder of my curry sauce all over it) and is up there with the largest I’ve seen sold.

As I was scooping up the remainders of the dish, I began totting up the cost: £11.45.

Clearly, as a city centre food establishment, prices are a little higher than other chippies. But I didn’t come away thinking I had been ripped off. Far from it.

This chippy oozes class and the food is exceptional – up there with the very best in the city.

The menu is currently missing pies, a chippy staple, but I was told they could make an appearance in the future.

Pass the salt, bab - Fillet of Soul poster
Pass the salt, bab – Fillet of Soul poster

Verdict

Fillet of Soul is a modern chippy – in time it may even be labelled a ‘posh chippy’ – but it still manages to capture the traditional feel of Britain’s famous cuisine; while comfortable in its new role as the trendsetter.

If you love your chips, give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.

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