Friday Night Fish Fry

Fish and Peas

by Mary Stevens
Where do you go with work weary adults, fractious under tens and grumpy pre-teens to celebrate a big birthday on a Brighton Friday night? The chip shop is a safe bet – especially when it’s ten minutes away – so we booked a table in Bardsley’s. Here four generations of fryers have been battering cod pieces since 1926. As a family business, they welcome all ages and tolerate the less than immaculately behaved – in the form of rampaging children and adults being very silly (whoops).

Tucked away east of London Road, in Baker Street, with no nonsense decor, this is a traditional take away come fish restaurant. Old favourites are on the menu – huss, saveloy, haddock and mushy peas, with specials including sea bass and salmon. However, it’s no fusty backstreet diner, and Bardsley’s is equipped to accommodate most dietary quirks. Vegetarians and the fish phobic are sometimes forced to join friends and family for food. While such behaviour is sometimes (in jest, we think) frowned upon by proprietor Roy, there are pies and burgers for those who pale at the sight of an ethically sourced prawn. On our visit battered mushrooms were on the specials board, and to satisfy calorie counters and coeliacs fish also comes grilled rather than fried.

Although it’s been a few years since Bardsley’s was BYO, we asked nicely and were allowed to take our own (champagne) and put it in the fridge. For hefty ‘nibbles’ plates of calamari and whitebait with plenty of tartar and garlic mayo quietened everyone down. Never mind posh olives, a glass of Bollinger with a gherkin chaser takes a lot of beating. Then it was burgers for fussy kids and fish phobes, while the serious connoisseurs of all things fishy selected the very special Bardsley’s platter. Recommended for (at least) two to share, this is an orgy of seafood. Bardsley’s respect their fish, all catches are carefully sourced and they are always happy to discuss the provenance. However, it’s Friday night and we’re hungry – so I have no idea where the huge shiny scallops came from – but they were actually awesome. The rest of the platter was filled with monster prawns, grilled sea bass, crayfish tails and a smidgen of crispy fried fish for balance. A plate of proper chips on the side and mushy peas made up our vegetable quotient.

Watched over by a mosaic of great grandfather Bardsley, fish, chips and sundries are served to friends and families of all ages with amiable efficiency. We went from tired and fractious to stuffed and content – even the almost-teenagers.

While cheaper chips are available, you’d be hard pushed to find better quality and quantity of seafood (and deep fried spud) – certainly not out there in that city centre – where binging on pedigree fish would likely be twice the price.

And, to top it all, they know where to put their apostrophes.

See Bardsley’s website here

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