Battersea by night is an odd little place. The dark, industrial riverside, winding silently through the backyards of garden centers; badly lit wastelands flanked by lego estates, then suddenly, at the end of a fuzzy golden-flickering road, a towering skyscraper and the low-drone of a heliport. Yes, a heliport. Apparently, this is where Al-Fayed and Abramovitch park their little zippers when in town. Perhaps they even stay at the ultra-random, sausage finger-shaped HeliHotel in front of it too, then zipline across the dank Thames, Bond-style, to Harrods for a spot of shopping. Either way, tonight I am in this bizarre back-of-beyond to sample the delights of The Fish Place, a relatively new joint specializing in super-fresh British fish, in season, and a break-the-rules wine policy.
M. and I are here for the lobster-fest – a week long special menu celebrating in- season lobsters from our Cornish waters. For lobster, I will happily schlep across Battersea in heels, wondering why the road doesn’t show up on the GPS. For the lobster we got served at The Fish Place, I would do it five times over. The Fish Place has a few tables on the ground floor, but the real “tank” is upstairs, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a smattering of tables looking out over the silvery Thames, in the direction of sunset, in a setup not unlike an aquarium in shape. The lime green, acqueous grey and blue interior is a touch stark, but once sunset starts it’s all-eyes on the windows and you barely notice the wavey distorted wall-hanging.
I start with Dorset crab claws, fresh as all hell and deliciously sweet and tender. Served simply and without fuss, it comes with a silky mayonnaise made with the rich brown of the crab. Excellent.
M. has Devon scallops, grilled, with a delightful combination of sauteed girolles, chorizo and confit tomatoes – the level of cooking is superb, almost unbefitting of such simple interiors and out-of-the-way location. We ask to have our food matched with red wine, as suggested by the wine-menu which waffles a bit too insistently about wine-matching to a crowd that I believe isn’t as ignorant as it makes out. That being said, whilst I know the white wine + fish rule is happily broken, I still wouldn’t know what to pick with a seafood meal, so we agree with the waiter’s choice of a Morgon 2009 which, when chilled, goes quite well with the fatty seafood thanks to its sweetness and especially nicely with the girolles and confit toms with its cassis and jammy flavours.
In a lovely old-fashioned twist – and something I wish more restaurants did these days, we get served a palet-cleansing elderflower sorbet between courses. Narf. Almost wish it was on the dessert menu.
I have chargrilled whole lobster with chilli and garlic. Again, it is perfectly cooked, plump, sweet, fleshy, soft, with just enough chilli to pack a punch without overwhelming. M’s thermidor is drool-worthy and for a few moments we gorge on each other plates in a sort of crustacean-y erotic frenzy, shucks, cracks and pinces clacketing and eyes rolling heavenward in lobstery delight. Seriously, the Chef here is on to a damn good thing.
Pudding sort of passes me by as I am not a puddingy person, however my elderflower jelly punctuated with raspberries is fresh and simple and tasty. M’s Morgan Spiced Rum and Apricot soufflé is too sweet for my liking, but it’s got rum in it, so M’s basically reached nirvana by the first mouthful.
Staff are friendly and on hand to make wine recommendations, even offering suggestions of matchings to try at home which is always a good tip with mere morals who don’t have a Chateau-worthy cellar in their basements. The menu is updated regularly to match the seasons – just don’t wait ’til the next lobster-fest to make a booking.