This is my local chippie. Not “local” in the sense that there are numerous other fish and chip shops far closer to my house, but local because were it on the other side of London, I’d probably still travel here when in a fish and chips mood. A veritable institution – well, for me at least, having been in existence from before I was born – Two Brothers fish restaurant is owned, funnily enough, by two brothers (Leon and Tony Manzi), and the fact that it is family-run is evident from service that is genuinely friendly, if a little ragged round the edges.
On a Friday night, the queues can stretch out to the street for both the main dining room (no reservations taken) and the take-away counter. I’ve had the take-away cod or haddock and chips numerous times – consistently fresh fish with superb light and crispy batter and huge portions of fat chips that are best gobbled up whilst hot.
I had always imagined the restaurant to serve the same basic fare, so was surprised at the length and variety of the a la carte menu – ten or so starters, twice as many mains, and more desserts than you could count on both hands. The focus is on fresh fish, so expect daily specials and variable prices, depending on availability.
More traditional starters include jellied eels, marinated herring and prawn cocktail, but we tried cod’s roe in batter (£2.65), two burger-sized disks of slightly grainy pink eggs in that superb batter, and Tony’s Arbroath smokies (£4.85) – hot-smoked haddock in a cream sauce with fresh tomato and topped with cheese. Unless you are famished, I would advise sharing; both were hunger-halting portions that could have passed as main courses elsewhere.
For main courses, stick to fish and chips or push the boat out and sample the likes of plaice on the bone, halibut steak, whole grilled sea bass, steamed rainbow trout or sardines sautéed with herbs and garlic. Between us, we had home-made salmon fish cakes (£9.35), fried skate wing (£9.85) and grilled whole dover sole (£17.95). The last was probably the best, by virtue of the fact it was the only non-fried dish. You can reach deep-fried saturation quite rapidly, but there is the option of steaming or grilling most fish for an additional 70p, and token vegetables come in the form of mushy peas, mixed side salad, pickled onions or coleslaw.
We were way too full for desserts (around £3), but if your arteries can take it, you could complete the deep-fried fest with banana fritters, indulge in comfort eating with home-made bread and butter pudding or apple pie, or pick your way through the ice cream selection – peach melba, knickerbocker glory, banana split and ice cream bombe being just a few of those on offer.
- Tracy Yam, 12/2003