Turn the music on and then sit back in your chair . . . I'm going to take you back to a time here in the UK, back in the early 60's.
It's Friday night, you've had a hard week at work and you are going out for a night on the town. You've got your mini skirt on, your hair is all puffed and fluffed . . . Mary Quant is adorning your eyes, and you and your mates stop at the Chippie on the corner for a bite to eat before you hit the clubs in town.
The chips are hand cut and chunky . . . the fish is piping hot and crisply battered, and it's all served up in a newspaper cone, with a big splash of malt vinegar and lotsa salt. Nothing on earth tastes any better . . . the night is young, and it's all a go go go! Friday night, cute lads, Mini Skirts . . . letting your hair down, pop music and the best fish and chips in town. What more could anybody want!
I was only a little girl in the 1960's, so I am only drawing on my overactive imagination for this . . . and reruns of Heartbeat . . . but this is the feeling I always get when I visit my absolute favourite fish & chip shop in Chester.
It's called Blackstocks and you will find it on Northgate Street right here in Chester, just down from the town hall . . . and I am not exaggerating when I say that they are the best! They are a relatively new place, having only opened up about 2 months ago. Todd and I have been there at least half a dozen times since . . . and we have honestly NEVER been disappointed.
Their byword is . . .
Crispy . . . NOT soggy.
Fresh . . . NOT frozen.
Today's . . . NOT yesterdays.
They claim to be passionate about their food and it shows.
There's a very 60's feel to the place . . . from the clean and modern lines of the tables and chairs . . . to the music that is always playing in the background. Nothing jars . . . it's clean . . . it's simple . . . the music gets your toes tapping . . . the staff are very welcoming, polite and cheerful . . . but most important of all . . . the food is delicious and good value for money spent.
They say they have traveled the length and the breadth of the country looking and tasting the best and the worst that the UK has to offer in the way of Fish & Chips, and it's clear that they have taken all that they have learnt, and put it into operation in this fabulous shop. The fish is beautifully cooked . . . and fresh, the batter always crisp and never soggy. The chips are quality . . . hand cut, twice fried, golden brown and always crisp, not greasy. I'd hazard to say that they've never been frozen either!
Todd and I always get a nice piece of Haddock or Cod for each of us . . . and then a portion of chips to share. The fish comes with a nice piece of lemon for squeezing, and there is salt and malt vinegar on the tables so you can add as much or as little as you like. (I like that . . . only "I" know how much salt and vinegar I want . . . and I like to add it myself.)
None of it is ever grease laden . . . or soggy, always perfectly done. That is because their oil is never old . . . their fish is said to have been swimming in the sea just hours before. The batter is so crisp you can hear it rustle and crackle when you break your fork into it . . .
And just look at the succulence of that beautiful fish . . . so moist and perfectly done. Never dry . . . a beautiful combination of crisp batter and tender, flaky, and beautifully flavoured fresh fish. What's more . . . it is cooked right as you order it . . . it hasn't been sitting around under a heat lamp for ages.
Oh, this is fish and chips heaven for sure. This is why we keep going back . . .
We have never been disappointed.
Oh . . . they have other things on the menu as well . . . beautiful looking Steak Pies, handmade by a local baker . . . "Pure"Chicken nuggets, Premium Award Winning Locally sourced and made Sausages (mostly meat and not filler), Luxury Fish Cakes which are said to be at least 50% Cod, proper mushy peas, gravy and buttered bread. Good value for money spent. All anyone could want for the perfect fish dinner.
You can eat in . . . or take away. We always eat in . . . the atmosphere is so nice and we see it all as being a part of the whole fish & chips experience. It's just perfect to us.
You may be tempted to think that I have been paid to say all of this . . . or that at the very least have had free fish and chips. Not so . . . I quite simply like to give accolades where accolades are due. When I see something being done so very right . . . I just have to share.
Blackstocks Fish & Chips, 33 Northgate Street, Chester, UK . Open seven days a week.
Go on . . . treat yourself today. I'm going to!
Oh heck . . . if you live in America, you won't be able to unless you travel over here . . . however can I do this to you . . . leave you all wanting and drooling away . . .
Just because I'm not mean . . . I can't give you their recipe because it is a secret recipe . . . but I can give you mine. I can't promise you that it's as good as theirs is . . . only that it's a pretty darned good second place runner.
*Beer Battered Fish*
This is the best battered fish you could ever want to eat. Light and crisp and the fish is beautifully flakey inside. Make sure your oil is hot before you start frying the fish. Also make sure your fish is well coated with flour before you dip it into the batter. If you follow these two rules you will be rewarded with delicious crisp battered fish, perfectly moist on the inside.
4 cod or haddock fish fillets
(I like the thick ones myself)
6 ounces flour
1 tsp baking soda
8 ounces of beer
the juice of half a lemon
salt to taste
Flour for dredging the fish in
Oil for frying
Malt Vinegar, Lemon Slices, tartar sauce
Place about an inch and a half of sunflower oil into a deep skillet. Heat over medium high heat until hot. A cube of bread should brown in the hot oil in about 10 seconds. While the oil is heating get the fish ready.
Place the flour, soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the beer and lemon juice to make a thick batter. Set aside.
Season your fish pieces with a bit of salt and then dredge completely in the flour, shaking off any excess. Dip into the batter and then carefully tease it into the hot oil. Cook for about 4 to 5 minutes perside, until nicely browned and crispy. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon to drain on some kitchen paper. Serve immediately with some chips if desired, and salt and vinegar. Lemon Slices and tartar sauce are optional!