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149-155 Central Street
A lunchtime blessing on a shopping precinct between Old Street and Angel, this spruce, upbeat seafood café was established as a family firm back in 1968 and is still run with a sense of pride. The
dining room is kept neat and tidy, with black leather chairs, white tablecloths, vases of fresh flowers and fishing-trade photographs on the walls. There’s no messing about with the menu, either:
you might kick off with fish soup, grilled sardines or mussels in a spicy sauce, before tackling battered cod, haddock or plaice, smoked haddock and oyster mushrooms in pastry or skate wing with
beurre noisette. Meat eaters look to the char-grill and the wine list is stocked with plenty of sub-£20 offerings, while express lunches compete with the adjoining chippie
in the value stakes.
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Best Fish & Chips
149-155 Central Street
020 7253 4970
Old Street Tube Station 673m
Old Street Station 708m
City University 521m
Sadler's Wells Theatre and Lillian Baylis Theatre 655m
Mon-Fri 11.30am-2.30pm, 5pm-10.30m, Sat 12N-10.30pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
Fish Central is the sort of restaurant that everyone should have within walking distance: a place where, if you can’t face cooking and don’t want to break the bank, you know you can have a good meal in lively surroundings. Don’t be put off by the location – it’s set in a grim, grey and very concrete estate between City Road and Goswell Road, but is actually only a 10 minutes walk from the Angel. One side is a proper fish-and-chip shop, the other a restaurant that’s always packed. Décor is serviceable, service is brisk and friendly, and the clientele couldn’t be more diverse. Last night there was a large party of girl students, the usual table of cabbies, a trio of local girls bantering with the cabbies and on the table next to us a couple who were deciding whether to give the Renaissance sketches at the British Museum a miss in favour of the Greek statuary. And it’s always like that! The fish and chips (and there’s always a good mix of the standard haddock/cod/hake type as well as plaice and skate) is excellent – crisp, ungreasy batter, very fresh fish, and chips that look like they’ve actually been peeled on the premises. Probably best avoid anything too complex, but the Dover sole, simply grilled (£17.95), is always good. There are plenty of traditional sides (the salads are fine if a little unimaginative) and the mushy peas the real thing! The wine list is well priced and it’s impossible to spend more than £25 on a bottle (at £23 there’s a very quaffable Gavi di Gavi). One word of warning, it can get very noisy – so probably not the best place if you’ve life-or-death news to impart to your companion, but I’m very glad to have Fish Central a brisk 15-minute walk away!
I eat at this “restaurant” (actually an upmarket fish and chips) about twice a month.
Why ? Because although the address is unprepossessing and the actual place quite stark and plasticky, the fish is top-notch. Fresh. Tasty. Cooked expertly. Great variety. OK, not the sort of place you would linger at or take anyone for a romantic evening (or lunch) but it is clean and the service friendly if sometimes oddly dispraxic. I challenge you not to like the “gratinated” rock oysters, or the Scallop starter. Same goes for the Roast Cod with roast mediterranean vegetables, the smoked haddock in flaky pastry and mushroom sauce, or any of the fish dishes come to think of it. The wines are limited, but the Muscadet is far from the awful stuff it used to be and is very good value. The entire meal is in fact hard to beat in terms of value for money.
Fish Central is a great place if you need to impress guests with your local knowledge. The setting is hardly picturesque…the restaurant nestles on the edge of a concrete plaza surrounded by high rises but inside is inviting, bright and bustly. Most of the clientele are local – no tourists, lots of family groups and always a number of cabbies. The banter between other diners and the waiting staff give you the surreal impression of being on set of some Italian gangster film…the Cypriot mafia, if there is such a thing! The menu is a decent length and there are always specials, reassuring in a restaurant where the emphasis is on the catch of the day. The straight forward fish dishes let you choose how you want it cooked (from grilled to battered) and there are a number of sides, from bead and butter to mushy peas. There is something to suit all budgets, from cod and chips to sole and lobster and the prices are to be reckoned with.
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