Going north along Falcon road from Clapham Junction you come into what might be charitably called one of Battersea’s less glamourous areas. Nestled amongst the convenience stores, shops selling car parts and a couple of closed down pubs, sits somewhere that is a bit of a local legend, a restaurant called Fish in a Tie.
Fish in a Tie has been around for over 20 years, and I remember being introduced to it by my friend Sarah who was already aficionado in about 1998. Back then you could get a two course meal from the set menu for about £7. These days inflation has sent that rocketing up to £12, if only housing had only gone up by that much in 18 years, oh well.
My dining companion of the night was not this time the DDC, but my great friend Tori, the Ultimate Rugby Fan (URF.) Like Sarah before her she is a great fan of Fish in a Tie (or FIAT as I shall refer to it henceforth,) and was keen to give it another whirl in order to promote it to Nappy Valley readers.
We arranged to meet at Revolution, the chain bar at the end of Falcon road and opposite the Falcon itself. I’ve been to Revolution before, and had found it perfectly pleasant. On this occasion though the UFC waited about 15 minutes before she got served, this is with an empty bar, but only one bar tender on duty. To cap it all they got the order wrong, but by that point we were so thirsty we couldn’t be bothered to argue.
The entertainment at this stage was provided by a guy standing outside who had for some reason decided to pick a fight with some sort of electrical metal box on the road. I don’t know whether it was for phone lines or control the traffic lights, but he seemed to have a real axe to grind with it. Stopping only occasionally for fortification from the can of beer he carried he continued his rather one sided row for the duration of our stop.
Keeping him rather warily to one side we made our way under the railway bridge down to the restaurant. Stepping inside I was surprised to see how little it’d changed in the intervening years, but then FIAT is pretty much one of a kind, and like a true eccentric it has side stepped rather than embraced the changing tides of fashion.
The interior feels like someone has decorated after going on a rampage at an architectural salvage store. Mismatched chandeliers, rather outside for the room, candles and rather more people stuffed into than the actual space would seem to allow. Personally I found this rather charming.
The big thing here are the prices, and the fact that they are anything but big. The set menu as said before is a steal at £12 for two course, but the specials and a la carte dishes still come in at the £5 for starters and £9/10 for choice of main course. I had a bit of craving for something sweet that night and so did coincidentally and thankfully did the URF, and so we decided to miss starters and have main course plus pudding.
For our main courses, I went for a shoulder of lamb from the specials and the URF had the sliced duck breast from the a la carte. The wine list is reasonable, and more like pub prices than restaurant, and we had a rioja, which was full bodied and delicious.
Our main courses arrived punctually after ordering, not too fast, not slow. Now here’s the trick to how FIAT keeps its prices low, all meats and fish come with the same selection of vegetables, roast potatoes, carrots and broad beans. I am not going argue that these are haut cuisine, they are simply good solid food with an almost complete lack of pretension and you are going here for a cheap night out not for an amazing new taste sensation.
That being said though, both my lamb and the URF’s duck were pretty damn good, my lamb shoulder was served as pulled lamb in compact patties, and the URF’s duck as sliced breast, both were tasty and filling, a high point and were complemented by the wine nicely.
For desert the URF had the chocolate mousse, and I had the semi freddo, an Italian speciality, something like a semi ice cream. Both were good, my only complaint here was that there might have been a bit too much semi freddo to eat comfortably. I was struggling by the end.
The bill came to a reasonable £44 odd for two courses and a bottle of wine, and service was both efficient and friendly. So my verdict? FIAT provided a good meal at a decent price, it’s difficult to pigeonhole this place as it’s cheap (though more than you’d pay at a drop in like Franco Manca or Dip n Flip, but not by much.) This I think is somewhere you’d come with friends or a significant other for a pleasant night out, where you didn’t have to worry about the bill too much. There aren’t enough of these places and on that basis I think it needs to be recommended highly.
For the traditional post dinner drink, we made our way down to the Candle Makers on Battersea high street. This is another semi hidden gem and that meant that we had perhaps one after dinner drink too many, but hey ho nice nights out with good friends sometimes don’t come often enough and we should make the most of them when we can.
Fish in a Tie
105 Falcon Road, Clapham Junction
SW11 2PF London, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 20 7924 1913