This was really the first outing of the lunch club this year. My every Friday meeting had really put a crimp in the plans and a fierce start to the new year kept everyone chained to their desks. When a newsletter from Young & Foodish landed in my inbox, it seemed like a perfect way to tempt the masses.
Last minute meetings felled about half the group so a small crew of us bounded out into the wind towards Fish Central. Traffic loomed up Clerkenwell so we decided to speedwalk up to the next bus stop. And then the next one. And then the next one. (A one hour lunch break can really put the pressure on an adventure.) We ended up walking all the way to there, which was a good thing because not one bus passed up on the way. The only question was: could the fish be worth this old lady’s ankle cramps. I like to blame my endless soccer injuries and ruptured ligaments but whatever the excuse, I’m never going to be a speedwalking champion.
Finally we saw Fish Central looming ahead. It’s a big white concrete building with wooden windows that looks as if it should be on the seafront in Pafos instead of tucked behind Old Street. There is a larger restaurant and tucked alongside is the takeout joint. We opened the door. Inside is your basic fish & chip shop complete with fried goodies in a glass case and a bevy of prepackaged pies in cellophane. Soraya immediately ordered a small cod with chips and ate from her open cone with the rest of us dithered. She shared out some of her delicious chips. One of the cooks came forward and turned a batch of steaming golden fish into the window.
That, I wanted whatever that was. The other man was totally surprised. Skate? I wanted skate? I wouldn’t have picked it, and never had it, but was totally mesmerised. That batch was destined for the restaurant but he offered to cook us fresh whatever we wanted. A new skate and some cod quickly hit the oil.
For a few minutes we hovered in anticipation, chatting about Cyprus and sampling the calamari. Then we had our lunch in our hands. The portions were too big for the traditional cone wrapping. We smiled goodbye and then went back out into the wind, prising off chunks of hot fish and pulling out chips with our fingers. The batter was crisp and beautifully hot. We all burned our tongues but couldn’t stop eating, congratulating each other through bites of delicious fish.
Totally worth a leg cramp or five.
Fish Central, 149-155 Central St King Square, London EC1V 8AP