Sunday, 29 June 2014

Fish at 85 - Review


Spontaneity, its part of what makes life exciting. Those spur of the moment decisions that more often than not lead to unexpected experiences and adventures. It's often heralded that the best nights are the ones that are unplanned. So with spontaneity clouding our decision making, we decided to head out for dinner one Friday evening a couple of weeks ago.  We took a stroll down to Pontcanna Street to see where spontaneity would take us.
Fish at 85 is a place that I've been to before but only to use it in it's fishmonger role. Primarily a wholesaler of fish I've always found that they have a great selection of produce and could not be more helpful when I've popped in to buy some fresh fish and can highly recommend it for this. However I have not eaten there before and it's one of those restaurants you pass in the evening that look so inviting and always busy that makes you feel like I want to be in there having a great time and eating great food like those people!
So Mrs Clonc and I accompanied by baby Clonc in the pram enquired if they had any tables. Now Fish at 85 is a small restaurant and very intimate, decorated in cool colours making for a lovely environment to eat it. The pram somewhat jarred with the vibe on this Friday night but the lovely waitresses could not do enough to accommodate us. They gave us a lovely table in the corner that was set up for 4 but reduced it to a table for 2 and made space for us to park the pram. All this with no reservation. Excellent.
The menu is concise, I like that, with the added option of choosing your desired fish from the counter and having it cooked to your liking which is a really nice touch and reinforces their other function as a fishmonger. We decided to be cautious and go for mains only just in case baby Clonc had plans other than sleeping. Mrs Clonc took advantage of the fresh fish counter and ordered a fillet of sea bass pan fried, accompanied by a romesco sauce, chunky chips and samphire, I went for the special which was a roasted turbot steak with french fries, watercress, cockle meat and a parsley beurre noisette. We ordered a couple glasses of wine and kicked back in our smugness, thinking look at us we have a 10 week old baby and we're still managing to go out for dinner, we thought we had this parenting lark nailed. Then baby Clonc woke up. 


In our spontaneity we had forgotten the young man had not had his dinner, ah. So cue frantic rocking of the pram to help him nod back off but he was having none of it. He wanted his dinner and he wanted it now. As mentioned the staff could not be more helpful and welcoming but the restaurant is intimate and Mrs Clonc did not want to feed baby Clonc in such close proximity to our fellow diners. So she made the executive decision to retreat to our place just round the corner to give baby Clonc his dinner, whilst I should stay and man the table so as not to appear rude after they had accommodated us.
The issue being is that our order was already being cooked! We informed the amazing waitresses of the situation, they intern relayed this to the chef. She returned with the message that he would redo our order when we were ready! Simply amazing service. So off Mrs Clonc and baby Clonc went and there I was facing a wall, surrounded by a  restaurant that was mainly filled with couples. So what did I do? I ordered a starter and got to work. I ordered some stunning king prawns and a light spicy broth. Simply delicious. I polished off the wines and waited for Mrs and baby Clonc to return. Which they thankfully did! We gave the nod to the waitress and our order was put in. More wine was ordered and we both laughed at how life had changed.
The sea bass Mrs Clonc had ordered was pan fried to perfection with proper crispy skin. The romesco sauce which is a Spanish roasted pepper sauce with pine nuts accompanied the fish beautifully. The chunky chips were sublime and the samphire was the best I have tasted, spiked with spring onions and chilli. My turbot was delicious, I had not eaten turbot before, it is a meaty fish but to be honest probably not my favourite fish I have tasted. The accompanying beurre noisette and cockle meat were delicious and the french fries excellent.
The food is presented simply with no unnecessary fuss, here it's all about the cooking of the amazing fish and allowing it to be the star attraction.
The service was exemplary from front of house to the kitchen, they could not be more accommodating and truly feel that this level of service is offered to all of their diners. I really like this restaurant from the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, excellent service and sublime food. Our story aside I would highly recommend this restaurant and if you have not eaten here I suggest you pop in soon. They also offer a fantastic value set lunch menu which is a absolute steal at  3 courses for £16!
As for us we can't wait to go back but perhaps we'll put some planning into it first. As for spontaneity? I think like the fish on the counter we may need to put that on ice for now.

Fish at 85, 85 Pontcanna Street, Pontcanna, Cardiff, CF11 9HS
T: 02920 235 666
http://www.fishat85.co.uk/