Review: Rock Fish Devon

Tables: Stiff

Should I review a humble fish and chip shop? Because at the end of the day, that is what Rockfish Devon is – a fish and chip shop with a higher emphasis on quality, both of food and experience, than your usual chippy. I wouldn’t blog every time I went to get fish and chips, that would become monotonous (Francine’s is the best in Plymouth by all accounts) so should I write about one just because there is a name (Mitch Tonks) attached?

Yet the South West Twittersphere has abounded with people remarking on its charms, which did make me want to visit. Well, that and the fact that I am a fish and chip aficionado. So I have ummed and ah’d for the last few days. And went for it. And I’m glad I did, because this is a sort of Fish and Chip Shop Plus.

I took my girlfriend to RockFish after we had spent a day wandering around Dartmouth, seeing the sights and enjoying its excellent food festival.

We walked in at 6pm, as you cannot book, and there were tables free. We got one right by the window, affording us a great view as the sun set across the dart to Kingswear.

The set-up at Rockfish is this: a fish and chip shop where you can sit down. Simple as. There are no plates – fish and chips come in paper baskets. The only concessions to re-useable tableware are bowls for mushy peas and tartare sauce. Everything is sold separately as in a fish and chip shop, so you can mix and match. The difference is that there is a far wider range of locally caught fish on the menu – halibut, mackerel and queen scallops are but three I remember. The concessions to restaurantishness are ordering at the table and waiters/waitresses to do this for you.

I ordered haddock and chips and mushy peas, Jane ordered the scallops and chips. All were served probably just as quickly as they would in a normal takeaway – if the food was cooked to order. Because that was the real difference with a high street take away. It was all cooked to order – and well cooked. The chips were crisp and fresh (until I accidentally poured half a bottle of Sarsons on them), the fish likewise. Nothing stuck to the paper, nothing left a sheen of grease where it touched human flesh.

Not only that but there were other foods being sold you wouldn’t find necessarily in a local fish and chip shop: potted shrimps, South Devon crab salads and sandwiches, cracked crab, smoked salmon and oysters.

I spoke to a contact, who will remain nameless, before we visited and she said on her visit she had had poor service. But there was none of that when we were there. Service was fast, friendly and unobtrusive.

Now for the price. Including drinks (ExcellentHeron Valley cider for me, white wine for Jane) it came to just less than £30. Mentally totting up what it might cost us in a takeaway (if we found one selling local cider and scallops), that’s not bad. Instead it might be better to compare it to a pub lunch/dinner, where you might spend similar. The surroundings were good, the view excellent and the food just what the doctor ordered after a hard day’s foodie-ing.

Whether you visit when in Dartmouth is up to you – the town is hardly short of eateries (riverfront strip on which Rockfish is found also contains Tonks’ Seahorse and the New Angel). But all I can say is that it provides excellent value for money and well-cooked food that isn’t treated with any less respect because it is humble ol’ chish and fips.

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