Although I am a tenacious carnivore through and through, dismissing vegetarian options with a blood-thirsty sneer, there are some occasions when I have to diversify my palate and be open-minded about new flavours and experiences. I love trying new food, but to be honest with you, fish is still a tentative one for me. With a very set and decided dislike of prawns and shellfish, I have in recent years attempted to be a ‘grown-up’ and see if there were any fish dishes that I actually liked, or even enjoyed. Toying with the boarders of salmon-based meals and grazing bravely on white fish, I was confronted with the chance to fully embrace seafood last Father’s Day, when my sister and I decided to take our fish-loving dad and slightly more reluctant mum out for dinner at Stratford East Village’s latest trend-setting eatery, The Fish House. Clue is most definitely in the title.
Fitting into the up-and-coming atmosphere of East Village was certainly easy for The Fish House, which offers both restaurant dining and a takeaway business. With a stark grey industrial vibe, the venue is warmed up by long, communal bench and stool style seating, as well as cosy black leather cushioned booths, encouraging clusters of friends and family to natter while they eat. There is also the laid back ‘help yourself’ feel by the silver buckets on each table, housing cutlery and napkins, while the randomly dotted around house plants give off a weirdly homely feel that is at odds with the office style lighting and echoing space of the restaurant.
My family and I were seated in a rectangular booth in the corner, which suited our needs perfectly. Once we begun looking at the menu, I must confess I was getting a little nervous. As a non-fish eater, I couldn’t spot a single starter that I wanted that wasn’t going to be too heavy before a main meal, for example the fish cakes that my dad chose were lovely but it was a large portion for a starter with two thick slabs of fish cake squashing a bed of salad leaves. The menu, which uses ethically sourced fish, is changed frequently depending on the time of year and what is able to be fished I suppose. The menu is quite small and to be honest, you do have to enjoy fish to visit as there are not really any other options to pick from.
When picking my main course, I decided to skip the obvious battered fish and chips option and try to be a bit healthier in my selection. With this in mind, I also chose the item most similar to a meat dish – tuna steak. Now, I’ve heard good things about tuna steak generally but I had yet to try one, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try it out without the faff of cooking one myself. My tune steak was a decent size, and a nice thickness too. It was tender to cut and was actually really tasty, with a juicy yet soft texture and an oddly meat-like flavour. Pleasantly surprised by the tuna, I also tucked into my sides with abandon; a lovely gloopy dollop of thick and creamy guacamole, paired with a chunky and zesty tomato salsa – the ideal dunking components for both my tuna and my mound of crispy sweet potato fries. I also ordered an extra side to share with the folks, buttered spirulina which was super tasty too with plenty of butter to pep up all that green. All in all, I really enjoyed the main course and I was glad that I had found another fish item that I could eat when out and about if the need arose!
Although the dessert choices were very limited, I opted for the chocolate torte, as generally you can’t go wrong with chocolate when you have a sweet tooth like myself. I asked whether I could swap the vanilla ice cream for a scoop of peanut butter ice cream instead, which ended in confusion – after numerous attempts at explaining what I wanted, getting the wrong ice cream and then explaining it again to our Spanish waitress, I finally got the chocolate torte with vanilla ice cream and a separate dish of peanut butter ice cream. You win some, you lose some. Either way, the torte itself was magic, with that slight brownie-like crunch on the top yet a dense and heavenly squash of dark chocolate underneath, which was lightened in flavour thanks to the creamy and quickly melting ice cream. It was a lovely, simple and classic dessert.
Although I had a nice meal at The Fish House, I’m not entirely sure if I would return. Our waitress was very polite and friendly, attempting to make small talk, however I think she was quite new to the UK as she did get a few bits of our order wrong and it sometimes took quite a bit of explaining to get what we wanted; for example, my mum, who is on a strict diet, asked for her fish to be plain and grilled with just a side salad however it arrived coated in a lavish amount of bubbling fried batter, which she then had to pick off to attempt to find the smaller portion of fish inside. And then the fiasco with swapping flavours of ice cream was made so much more complex than it actually was too. The quality of the food was delicious and the way it was cooked was wonderful, so for a quality meal with excellent ingredients, then by all means, give it a go. As a fish newbie, it maybe just wasn’t my scene.