Homeward Bound: Oh My Cod Restaurant, Hornchurch, Essex

When trying to decide where to take my badminton club for their next club social, I was on the hunt for somewhere new, with a versatile menu that would appeal to our adventurous fine diners as well as our fussy, traditional eaters. When I spied that local chippie Oh My Cod had gone all up market with a second, restaurant only venue, situated only a short walk away from their takeaway joint, I was instantly intrigued.

Outside Oh My Cod

Outside Oh My Cod

From the outside, it sure looked swanky with bold black signage and their modern trademark orange emblazoned in subtle neon across the door. A separated seated patio area outside had the hallmarks of a great sun spot come the summer months, with designated off road parking catering for the drivers of any group turning up to chow down. Through the large glass windows you could peek a glimpse at the stylish interior, fronded potted palms decadently reclining against vibrant orange and muted muddy beige walls; dark and shiny wooden rectangular tables encouraging families and larger groups, such as our table of ten people. The tables were dressed simply with side plates, cutlery, olive oil and vinegar, drinks menus slotted inside leather covers.

The family run establishment had a lovely relaxed atmosphere that clearly catered for friends and tight knit groups – there was a gentle buzz of social chatter yet it wasn’t overpowering or too quiet. Ideal for a Sunday meal out really. Although the takeaway venture focuses on your regular fish and chip fare, the restaurant takes this basic concept, ramps it up and gives it a jazzy Turkish makeover, with a selection of hot and cold starters, options for a variety of kebabs as well as dinky traditional pastries for dessert.

Inside Oh My Cod

Inside Oh My Cod

After nabbing a bottle of rose to split with the girls of the group, the waiters kindly brought over woven baskets lined with paper serviettes, stashed with strips of warmly grilled bread, a bit like pitta bread in thickness, but with a lovely slight springy texture. Pooling some oil on to my side plate, I dunked my bread enthusiastically, enjoying the crispy crunch of the bread, the soft centre, all paired with the slick of traditional oil. A totally tasty way to start the meal. After perusing the starter selection, I opted for the cold saksuka – sautéed aubergine in a tomato, garlic and onion sauce. It was a decent size for a starter, although I think it would have tasted a tad better served warm. It boasted some seriously strong and powerful flavours though, the garlic really coming through the sweeter tomato, the aubergine adding a slightly meaty texture and an added bite to the whole dish. It was presented with a small side salad garnish, which worked well to help mop up the sauce. On the whole, I really enjoyed the flavour combinations, as they all married together beautifully and also created a tasty texture – you would suppose it be rather mushy just by looking at it, but it was chunky and delicious, with a hum of garlic accentuated and enhancing the whole dish.

Lamb Shish with Yoghurt Sauce

Lamb Shish with Yoghurt Sauce

Picking my main course was also a mission for my indecisive brain, but in the end, I went for the lamb shish with yoghurt sauce, swapping the traditional cod and chips plunder for something a smidge more authentic. I also asked for a side of rice in anticipation of needing something to soak up the sauce. When it arrived at the table, it was exactly how I had pictured it, so I was interested to see what it tasted like. The cubes of lamb shish meat were placed on a bed of diced bread, massive pools of natural yoghurt creating a moat either side of the band of meat lying horizontally across my plate. The dish was finished with a tomato tasting Anatolian sauce, also coated with a butter sauce. The chunks of lamb were cooked perfectly, with a natural meaty taste. The sauce was mainly tomato with a bit of kick and an after warmth. After much digging around I found the diced bread, but I was a bit disappointed with how small the cubes were – it appeared to be similar bread to what was in our bread basket earlier, and they were cut much smaller than I anticipated so they didn’t contribute greatly to the meal. It was refreshing to have the yoghurt as it added a zingy slice of gloopy tang to the richer meat, however I feel my plate was laden with too much yoghurt almost – I never thought I would ever say yoghurt was overpowering but that was how it came across when I considered the dish. The rice was lovely and fluffy, just as it should be, strands of noodle laced between the grains in a traditional fashion. It was tasty mixed up with my mass of yoghurt, and I was glad that I had ordered it, as I was unsure if the meat and yoghurt mix along would have been a fulfilling enough portion.

Saksuka

Saksuka

Shared longer side plates of fresh salad were brought to that table so that we could just help ourselves, so I made sure to nab some lettuce, grated carrot and red cabbage. Since the guy sitting next to me couldn’t finish his battered cod and chips, I took the opportunity to sample another dish on the menu. The chips were glorious – a little bit pale colour wise, but wonderfully thick and cuboid with a soft squidgy centre – the epitome of importance for a fish shop chip. The cod was also tasty, the batter light and golden, the fish flaking beautifully as your fork dug in. The fillet of fish was also a very decent size so no qualms there about there being enough food. Unfortunately we did have to send some food back to the kitchen however. One lady in our party had ordered the battered skate and chips, yet when her skate arrived, it hadn’t been cooked properly. After asking for another piece, the second piece also arrived at the table undercooked, so we had one diner who didn’t actually eat a main course. It’s a shame as I felt my two courses were cooked wonderfully, with some really punchy and vibrant flavours, but obviously her experience of Oh My Cod wouldn’t have been as good.

Rose wine

Rose wine

No one fancied dessert so we asked for the bill, and instead of the usual mints that adorn the receipt, we were presented with a couple of plates of Turkish pastries – baklava I recognised although we were also given some small domed puddings to try. With a strict no wastage policy, I had soon taken care of the majority of these sweet treats, and I thoroughly enjoyed them too. The baklavas were deliciously syrupy stacks of filo pastry, with nuts such as pistachios wedged in between the tight knit layers. Soft yet crunchy with a luxurious sweet taste, I found these impeccably moreish. The second nibble was a small sponge pudding, also drenched in sticky syrup that dripped from the cake like morsel as soon as you attempted to pick it up with the provided tooth pick. These were also tasty, but I preferred the baklava as they had more texture and a greater variety of flavours to enjoy.

View out the front of the restaurant

View out the front of the restaurant

Price wise, I can’t complain as I would say that the dishes were pretty reasonable. We banned our dinner-less member from contributing to the cost since she didn’t actually eat, and the rest of us stumped up just over £20 each so not too shabby. The waiting staff were polite and efficient, although they weren’t exactly chatty or particularly warm. I really did enjoy my food although there were a few tweaks I would have recommended, and I think the variety of food provided was ideal for such a mixed group as we were. There was something for the fussy guys, the more adventurous eaters, people who wanted to be healthy and people who wanted to blow out. I liked the décor of the place, as it was tidy and well-presented without being in your face or overdone. In conclusion, we had a lovely evening, and I would like to return at some point to sample my own plate of cod and chips!

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