Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Tailend Fish Bar, Leith

This post was meant to be about croissants. I'd laminated some yeasted dough, rested it, and left it overnight ready to bake myself some fresh croissants for breakfast. I carefully rolled out the pastry, cut it in to triangles, and rolled them over to form the distinct croissant shape. After 20 minutes rising in a warm place, and 25 minutes in a hot oven, it was time to eat.

They were slightly crispier on the outside than was ideal, but no matter. Inside, the dough was hot and steamy, but not right. Instead of being buttery, light and fluffy, it was stodgy, yeasty and dense. Yuech!

So instead of telling you how to fail at croissant baking, I'll tell you about some really awesome fish and chips I had.

E has a friend, K, staying with us for the summer. He arrived on Sunday, jetlagged and exhausted from the transatlantic flight. Instead of letting him rest, we decided to drive him to Leith for some traditional fish and chips.

It's a bit of a tradition to deep fry things in Scotland, and there is a rumour that a chip shop exists where they will deep fry ANYTHING for you. It starts with a Mars bar, and ends up with you paying to batter your shoes.

Most chips shops are ok, but not great. You'll get some soggy chips, and greasy bit of overcooked fish. It's ok if you are drunk at 4am, but less ok if that's your dinner. I'd heard that the Tailend was different, and were more about good quality fish well cooked than trying to outdo the chippy down the road for how many different pizza flavours they can deep fry. (Yep. In Scotland even pizza can be deep fried.)

We opted for take away, as we didn't really have enough money to afford to eat the same food in the next door restaurant. If you take away, it's about half the price of sitting in, but essentially the same food. E and K went for the Cod supper, and I went for the Hake and chips.

The food took quite a while to come, and the staff, while friendly, weren't the most efficient. We eventually got our bag of greased up goodies and went home to eat it.

The first thing I noticed when removing the boxes from the bag, was how little grease there was soaked in. The reason many chip shops wrap everything in several layers of paper is to prevent your hands getting too greasy when all the fat starts coming out of the food. The Tailend boxes were still pretty pristine from grease, which suggested the fish and chips had been fried at the correct temperature and well drained before being packed up.

Reasonably small amount of grease

Although the chips had gone a bit soggy from the 15 minute journey back to the flat, they were still crispy on the outside, while soft and meltingly tender inside. They were my dream chip. I love getting fat chips (no skinny fries for me) which are actually crunchy.

Dream chips and Great Hake

The fish was also delicious, with a crispy batter surrounding the flaky flesh. Deep frying will never showcase fish in the same way sushi or grilling does, but it makes a bloody good attempt when done right.

The only downside is that Leith is so far away!

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