Fish and chips is the nation’s disputed favourite – does Catch 22 live up to its high reputation? Sammy Milton investigates
Fish and chips has been a long-standing favourite of the British public for as long as anyone can remember. The trend may have begun in Lancashire or in London (no one knows for sure), but the first ever fish and chip shop was opened by Joseph Malin in 1860 – which sold fish fried in a Jewish fashion. And how thankful to him we are. It has become the epitome of Britishness – what we crave on bright, sunny Fridays, and what other cultures most immediately associate with us.
Catch 22 has been a firm fixture of Park Street for some three years now, and it shows no sign of slowing down. Set in an attractive period building slap-bang opposite College Green, they offer an eat-in and takeaway service with traditional fish and chips as their centrepoint.
The front end of the room is a fully functioning takeaway, and there were already queues of people lining up to grab their battered goodies to eat on the grass outside, whilst there is a larger dining area towards the back of the restaurant, complete with large tables and booths. Seated quickly, we ordered a drink apiece and began the painstaking process of what to order. Painstaking in a good way – there is just so much on offer here. There’s the classic fish and chips, but also grilled fish, salads, burgers, hot dogs and even pies from Bristol favourites Pieminister.
We decided it just had to be good old-fashioned fish and chips. So, whilst I went for breaded scampi and chips with a side of curry and tartar sauce, my friend opted for haddock and chips with a side salad.
The food arrived a short while later on pretty oval plates. Piled high with a generous portion of chips, there was no shortage of breaded scampi on my plate, and the sauces were plentiful. My friend’s dinner was just as impressive. A huge piece of beautifully battered haddock perched on top of yet more chips, with a bright and zingy green salad on the side. We tucked in straight away.
The scampi was perfect – fresh and bouncy, encased in piping hot breadcrumbs without a hint of grease. The chips were proper ‘fish-and-chip-shop-chips’ which are surprisingly hard to do well, and there was a good variety – some short and stout, others a little longer and some crispy ones too. Both of the sauces were thick and unctuous – the curry sauce had a pleasant kick of spice whilst the tartar was tart and creamy.
A deeply satisfying plate of food.
My friend was also having a positive experience across the table. Her haddock was expertly cooked – crisp, golden batter gave way to snowy-white fish that broke away cleanly – no flakes here. She also had high praise for the chips and also of the side salad – fresh green leaves were mixed with tomato, pepper, cucumber and red onion and a wonderfully light dressing. A perfect palate cleanser.
Appetites well and truly satisfied, we thanked our friendly waiter and made our way back out onto the sunny streets. Catch 22 have been named the best fish and chip shop in Bristol by some, and although I’m not fully willing to dethrone my local chippy, I have to say they’re up there with the best. Fish and chips remains the king of British cuisine and Catch 22 are paying a true homage to the dish. Long may it live.
38 College Green
0117 925 8612