Name: Sutton and Sons Fish & Chips (Islington Branch)
Where: 356 Essex Road, London N1 3PD, http://www.suttonandsons.co.uk/
Cost: Sutton & Sons’ eat-in menu offers traditional British fish and chips fare as well as a selection of interesting small bites and a number of daily specials. The Fish & Chip section includes battered scampi at £7.95, cod, haddock and other fish at £9.95, or monkfish at £12.95, with hand-cut chips at £2.75.
Small Bites features king prawns in tempura batter £4.50, Cromer crab on toast £5.95, ½ dozen Maldon oysters £8.50, and Moules Mariniere £4.50 among other offerings. If you fancy something other than battered fish, the daily specials may include whole sea bass with herb butter £12.50, lobster sub & chips £12.90 or grilled tuna or swordfish £9.50. Set price menus for lunch are also available at £6.50, as well as smaller servings for the kids menu at £5.75 for cod and chips. The take away menu is cheaper.
About: A North London institution, Sutton and Sons Fishmongers was founded by husband & wife duo, Danny and Hana Sutton in Stoke Newington 17 years ago. In 2010 they opened their first Fish & Chips restaurant just across the street from their shop with a second, smaller branch, largely for home and office deliveries, opened at Boxpark Shoreditch a few years later.
More recently, a new Islington restaurant opened on Essex Road. Decked out in smart black and white tiles, with Tolix style chairs and wooden tables, subdued lighting and discrete jazz/rock on the sound system, it's an enjoyable spot to eat in, or wait for your takeaway to be prepared. All their food, whether eaten on the premises or for takeaway, is freshly cooked to order.
The fish is responsibly sourced, and is supplied to all 3 restaurants from their own fishmongers in Stoke Newington, so it couldn’t be fresher. Hana – aka Mrs Sutton – makes a range of home-made pickles and desserts exclusively for the restaurants which are rapidly gaining a deserved North London following!
What We Ate: We started with a couple of the small bites selection - Cromer crab on toast (£5.95) was beautifully presented and delicious, with a generous portion of shredded fresh crab meat seasoned with finely chopped red chilli, red onion and parsley.
The restaurant's own-made smoked haddock and cod fish cakes (£4.95) were also very good - the fish and potato filling was deliciously creamy (more akin to a Japanese Korokke) seasoned with mustard seeds, in a crispy batter, and served with an excellent, fresh tartare sauce (made on the premises).
And of course battered fish had to be ordered – I opted though for the monkfish and chips (£12.95) as opposed to cod on this occasion.
With a super fine, crisp batter and meaty flesh, the monkish was outstandingly good, served alongside proper chips, thick cut and perfectly fried - crispy on the outside but soft and meltingly tender on the inside.
The lobster sub and fries (£12.90) served in a buttered brioche bun was filled to the brim with large pieces of meaty lobster and seasoned with a delicious Mary Rose sauce spiked with paprika – heaven!
We had a side serving of Mrs Sutton's homemade pickles too - quail eggs, balsamic shallots and red onion rings (£2.25). If you get to try these babies when you visit Sutton and Sons, you will never go back to the jarred, ready-made variety, I assure you! They were sweet, sour and beautifully delicate, with a great hit of clove and cinnamon in the onion rings. They worked a treat as a palate cleanser between courses and at the end of the meal.
What We Drank: The restaurant serves red, white and rose wines by the glass or bottle, including a Picpoul de Pinet for £19.50, and an Argentinian Malbec for £18.50. The Renard Barnier Champagne is priced at a very reasonable £34.50. Beers come from Hackney Brewery, as well as Fullers others. On our visit, we opted for the Fullers London Pride (£4.25 for 500ml), and the Hackney Brewery American Pale Ale (£4.50 for 500ml).
Likes: Top quality, super fresh fish and seafood, perfectly cooked proper chips, a good selection of wines and craft beers at sensible prices. We loved the Cromer crab toasties, the lobster sub, the fantastic chips, the super delicate and crispy fish batter, the sweet pickles…. the list goes go….
Dislikes: What's not to like?
Verdict: In a sea of chain and other lamentable restaurant options on Upper Street, Sutton and Sons is a very welcome addition to the dining scene in Islington. From cod & chips to whole grilled seabass or lobster subs, they do it all, and they do it well. And it is great value for money too. Very highly recommended.