Fish restaurants are few and far between in Cardiff. La Fosse, which used to live underneath Habitat in the Hayes, was ‘fish based’. Not much cop in my opinion but fish based all the same. Fish at 85 in Pontcanna has been around for a couple of years now and it was only last week that I got around to eating there. My loss. Fish at 85 is your local fishmonger who also offers to cook up your carefully selected fresh fish – so you can sit back, let someone else worry about getting the cooking just right, whilst you sip on a glass of Muscadet. The fish is British and locally sourced where it can be. We need to be changing our mindset in this country, eating fish that we haven’t heard of that’s coastal to us. Let the overfished species recover – go for Gurnard!
The fish counter was exciting for any of you passionate piscetarians out there. I’m thinking about saving my pennies and taking uncle John a beautiful whole Turbot so he can get his kettle out…
I was there to eat with my lovely friend Dave, we went to med school together and have been embroiled in many a Gonzo adventure. Now all grown up, having not been very good at being in touch despite our relative proximity, we had lunch instead of Vodka…
There is a keenly priced two course lunch menu at about £13 but I couldn’t resist eating some of the fish that was right in front of me. Despite knowing I was about to eat a pan-fried lemon sole with beurre blanc, I was relatively easily convinced into ordering some potted brown shrimp – butter ahoy. Dave had some simply prepared Crevettes with a marie rose sauce. It was the best potted shrimp I’ve had – the shrimps were sweet and the butter was really good with maybe a little mace and a pinch of Cayenne.
The Crevettes were awesome and the marie rose pitched just right with regards to tartness v creaminess. We knew we were onto a good thing.
For a relatively easy-going Tuesday the main courses took a little longer to arrive than you’d like if you had somewhere to be. We were however presented with some pickled cockles to enjoy whilst we waited, as we were having a long overdue catch up I wasn’t too bothered but probably would have been in other circumstances. The cockles were moreish, sweet with a punchy vinegar finish.
It really was worth the wait anyway. I asked for my lemon sole to be cooked on the bone and it was beautifully done. It filleted like a dream without a hint of chewiness – perfectly cooked. The beurre blanc was delicately aromatic with an aniseed taste of tarragon and a floaty, velvety consistency – not thick like a bearnaise-esque sauce you may sometimes erroneously be served. However the fish remained centre stage, as it should have be.
I’m not usually a huge fan of fish and chips, it isn’t something that I eat with gusto, though the component parts of Dave’s were perfect. A batter crispy all the way to the finish with maybe a hint of saffron; soft, flaky fish and good thick cut and importantly, well cooked (as in brown), chips. The tartare sauce could have done with more of a caper hit for me but that’s a personal preference.
The wine list was obviously properly fish orientated – Muscadets, Rieslings, Champagne – plus an Alberino. I’d have loved to have seen a Picpoult de Pinet on it, that would have made my day.
Fish at 85 was a delicious lunchtime treat, I will definitely be going back for dinner. If you live in Pontcanna there is no excuse for not visiting and if you live elsewhere, give town a miss and go west – life is plaiceful there…
Fish at 85, 85 Pontcanna Street, Cardiff, CF11 9HS
Tel 02920 235666