The Street Kitchen Restaurant at the Wheatcroft Garden Centre, on the edge of Edwalton, has been open for about a month now. It is quite an improvement on the old café, it seems to be brighter and more welcoming and so much more spacious. Whereas the old café felt like a cross between a school canteen and a late lunch at an old folks home, the new space feels upscale and more family friendly. I liked it already. I had already had good reports from family and friends who had eaten here, hearing tales of a “vintage van serving freshly cooked Fish and Chips”, and another vintage van that was selling ‘Lasagne and Meat Pies’. This was already sounding like my kind of place. To whet my own appetite I was advance mentally dining vicariously devouring tales of the “Really good Fish and Chips cooked in Beef Dripping” and a lunchtime tale of a “Massive Steak and Ale pie served with new potatoes and cabbage for just under a tenner”
Based on what I had heard I planned a team outing which I called ‘Fish and Chips Friday at the Croft’. Without much persuasion as the imaginary lunch bell rang, I shepherded the gang down the well worn remnants of the old Landmere Lane to the garden centre, through the bedding plants and into the new café area until we found ourselves standing in line at the hatch of the blue vintage Fish and Chip Van. It was only just after 12 and already there was quite a queue, the young lady at the hatch warned us that it would be about 5 minutes for the fish as she was cooking them to order. That was fine with us so we ordered 5 platefuls. As we waited the queue lengthened behind us, and I was glad that we had come just as they opened.
As we stood my tummy rumbled as I read the description on the chalkboard; “Freshly Hand Battered Cod in our own Local Beer Batter with fresh cut chips, Homemade Mushy Peas and Tartare Sauce” for £10.95. Sounds good if a little on the expensive side. My wallet was marginally appeased and overruled by my gluttonous brain as I read the subtext beneath the description of the plate “Fried Traditionally in Tasty Beef Dripping”… ooh this could be good
Five minutes later we were walking out with our plates of Fish and Chips to sit on the outside patio under the rays of some unseasonable November sunshine. We found seats at a large wooden table and all tucked into our plates. The plates were piled high with those fresh cut chips and huge piece of Cod coated in a lovely looking golden batter. The beer batter was light and crisp, excellent to be more gushing with my praise. The cod was also fantastically cooked, juicy, moist, flaky and light, untainted by fryer fat and dripping with the sense of the sea from whence it had come.
Now I am a great fan of two other excellent Nottingham based Fish and Chip emporiums namely Cod and Scallops in Wollaton and the George’s Traditional restaurants, but I have to say that ‘this fish on this particular day‘ totally trumped them both. Now I know that is quite a bold statement, but it feels justified in the moment. That fish really is and was that good!
Lets talk about the rest of the plate. I quite liked the chips although I found them just a bit too crisp and crunchy and maybe even a bit too thick. I do like my chip shop chips a little, well can I say this? soggier. I like to douse them in vinegar and these took a lot and still kept their crispness. OK so they won. I will say though that there were way too many chips on the plate, and sadly I just could not eat them all, such sacrilege to admit that failure. The mushy peas are good too, perhaps a little too creamy and in need of salt and pepper, but probably gauged just right for their audience here at the Garden Centre. One of our table who was not a member of the global mushy peas society said that he quite enjoyed them so they must have something about them.
You know what, this is a dang good plate of Fish and Chips, as I said earlier I love the beer battered Cod fried in the beef dripping, and I would walk all the way back down the lane just to eat that. I will say though that I think it is a bit overpriced. You can get excellent Fish Chips and Mushy Peas from Georges Traditional for well under a tenner, and the same from The Cods Scallops for less as well. Now it may be good, and maybe the Garden Centre crowd will pay this much, but I have to be honest and say that I am not opening the wallet this far too often even though it is probably the best beer battered fish I ate this year.
It is good though!
The Street Kitchen Restaurant is located at the Wheatcroft Garden Centre which is on Landmere Lane in Edwalton, Nottinghamshire.