Every country seems to have a traditional (or stereotypical) cuisine. For the French, it’s crepes and buttery pastries; for the Germans, it’s schnitzel; for the Italians it’s pasta and for us Brits, it’s fish and chips – or possibly afternoon tea?
Most of us probably think of a greasy, Friday night takeaway when we think about fish and chips. The hot battered fish with chunky chips steeped in gravy and a generous spray of salt served within rolls of white paper. Swap up the setting to a beach in Brighton with a sea breeze threatening to topple your golden feast onto the rocks if the gulls don’t get there first and you may have a classier alternative in mind.
After opening in 2015, Catch22 have been trying to rock the boat by sprucing up the fish and chips scene in Bristol, giving customers a more premium product in a restaurant setting. Of course, you still have the option to takeaway and gorge on their fishy offering at the neighbouring College Green if you prefer.
From the outside, you wouldn’t necessarily double take Catch 22 if you were walking by. The marbled (?) brown exterior reminded me more of an old school bank building. What’s inside though, is a newly renovated restaurant with a clear nautical theme to boot. With the use of faux wooden beams there are booths at the front and back, industrial style lighting, nautical-themed retro B-movie posters and netting draped above the tables. The interior could easily have bordered into tacky but Catch22 walked the line (or plank) nicely.
Looking at the menu, it seemed there were four main fish on the menu at Catch22 – Cod, Haddock, Plaice and Lemon Sole. All options came in at £6-9 apiece, not the cheapest fish out there especially considering chips weren’t included in that price. Of course, the cost of a meal isn’t an issue in my opinion if the quality is worth it. Catch22 considers itself to be a restaurant as well as a takeout so with this in mind, a tenner for a fine piece of fish and a side of chips (£2.35) isn’t bad.
Following a Twitter poll, it was agreed by myself (and anonymous Twitter voters) that Haddock would be the best choice for this review. My plus 1 of the evening Tim opted for the Scampi (my second choice) so we could try both. Alongside our catch of the day, we ordered a side of chips and mushy peas (£1.95) each and a bowl of battered onion rings (£2.35).
The fish was a beautiful sight to behold, perfectly golden and crispy batter encased soft flakes of Haddock below with a delicate flavour. I had a napkin laid out across my white jeans ready for the grease and was pleased to find there was little to be found. The chips again were perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside but fluffy inside – just how I like them. Catch 22 allow you to add your own vinegar and salt so you can flavour your chips exactly how you like. In my case, lathered in both.
The mushy peas were the only disappointment. They had that lumpy texture which I like and expect but the flavour wasn’t quite there. I would expect a zing of citrus or a little extra seasoning to jazz it up a bit so it wasn’t bland on the plate alongside my feast of beige. The tartare sauce on the other hand was amazing! I don’t know if it’s homemade or out of a bottle but that stuff I could quite happily include into every meal.
There were dessert options but even thinking I could complete the fish (standard size is big enough – trust me!), chips, mushy peas and onion rings was way too optimistic of me so I didn’t dare order one.
Catch22 made a great impression on us on Monday evening, the food was mostly spot on, the interior was super cool and there were Gluten Free batter, burger and salad options up for grabs for any members of the group who preferred them. Did I mention they offer griller fish too for anyone who’s not keen on batter or watching their waist line? A pricier fish and chips than average but Catch22 totally worth every penny.
Please Note: Whilst our meals were complimentary and I was invited to review, this in no way impacted upon opinions given. Photography belongs to me so please only use with my permission.