The Park Tavern is large late Victorian pile of a pub situated on the Wandsworth approaches of the Merton road. It’s just around the ... Read Feature
It was at the Ship that I found myself enjoying a pre-prandial drink with the delightful dining companion (DDC) recently one Friday evening. The weather was warm for the time of year and I was enthusiastically embracing the possibilities to be found within a gin and tonic, whilst looking forward to the treat ahead.
The Ship is a pub that I have long felt rather ambivalent about. True the location is good, if you can ignore the cement depot on one side and the municipal dump a little further down the way on the other, also the restaurant is rather better than a pub this popular has any right to be. I don’t even mind the rugby boys to the max Ship Sunday’s, it’s more the customers on the other nights of the week like this one.
It’s probably a sign of me getting old, but they all seemed to be from the same cookie cutter, mid to late 20’s, well dressed all talking about skiing and all seeming like the sort of people who’d be kicked off half way through a season of ‘The Apprentice.’ Feeling crotchety, and pausing briefly for another healing draught of gin, we made our way over to Brady’s not so new home all of 45 seconds walk away.
Walking into the current premises the contrast with the old premises is immediately apparent. York Road Brady’s was fairly cramped and longer than it was wide, riverside Brady’s is wider than its long, and with a comfortable amount of space between tables. The décor is plain, with an emphasis on green and white much like the original, the extra space and the riverside location makes it seem much more like a coastal seafood specialist than previously.
We were swiftly seated at a table for two and presented with our menus. These are pretty much to the point with a fairly varied selection of all seafood starters but limited to battered or grilled fish for main course. There was on the day we visited a pretty extensive list of specials available, and I’m a sucker for skate and so choose a grilled wing as my main course, with a fish cake for starters. The DDC is much more of a traditionalist, opting for a half pint of prawns to start with and battered haddock for her main. To accompany these, we of course had chips, mushy peas and a tomato salad. All this food would too dry on its own, so we decided to split a bottle of viognier, the gins now becoming a fairly distant memory.
The starters arrived promptly, though the DDC was initially offered an erroneous selection prawn cocktail rather than half pint of prawns this was corrected very swiftly. My fish cake was good, crispy on the outside, hot and fluffy on the inside, but it was the DDC’s prawns that stole the show. These were some of the best I’ve tasted, fresh with the slight hint of sweetness that you get with truly good prawns, a great example of good produce prepared simply and well.
The viognier was an ideal accompaniment, chilled with the slight tartness to get the taste buds going and to help us get through the slight but welcome wait for the main courses. I used this time to have a look around at the rather diverse crowd that Brady’s attracts. Yes there were the same preppie types you might see at the ship, but there were also children with parents, grown children with older parents, groups of friends, divorced dads with assorted progeny. Yes this was a restaurant that was seemingly a popular choice with nearly everybody.
The main courses arrived at about the point I was going to wonder where they were, so at the right time. These came with the side orders and a wide range of seafood sauces. The DDC was more than happy with her haddock, for me the skate reminded me of the prawns in terms of its freshness and quality. In my opinion the chips were great, light, hot and crispy. These weren’t the oily, greasy chips I’ve had in so many places. I also liked the mushy peas and I reserve a special place in heaven for gherkins, which with my parents coming from the East End I still can’t help but refer to as wallys.
Following that feast, both DDC & I were as stuffed as the Pythons Mr. Creosote, my thoughts turned to wondering when exactly I was going to explode. Against my better judgement, we were talked into ordering a rhubarb crumble with cream to split between us. This hearty English pud turned out to be the ideal finish when split between us. Obviously homemade, obviously good quality again, I enjoyed it immensely.
Rather than risk going home immediately after dinner we repaired to the small bar area. This compared to the main dining room seemed under populated, which is a bit of shame as it’s a nice spot and perhaps more could be made of it. There is shepherd neame, the beer of Kent on tap and a small range of other drinks. With not enough room for a pint or even a full glass of wine, the DDC & I went for a dessert wine each, Argentine for her, Portuguese for me. Though these things are very obviously a matter of taste, I would say that the Argentine was the winner.
So what can I say, Brady’s is a great fish and chip/seafood restaurant. It doesn’t try to do anything else and what it does it does well. This is down to the simplicity of the food, the quality of the ingredients and the friendliness of the staff. I’d actually only been to Brady’s once before in the three years since they moved location, I’d now like to ensure that I’m back far more frequently, and a great thing here is that it won’t break the bank.
Till the next time, Rob.