Independent business Eric’s Fish & Chips is a welcome sight amongst the giant fast food chains in Abbey Retail Park in St Ives, Cambridgeshire. It may appear to be an unlikely location at first but once you know where it is, it works. It’s a destination restaurant with a fun and unique vibe, serving sustainably caught beer battered fish, beef dripping chips, quality meat, small plates, drinks and more. Ample free parking makes it easy to pop in for a take-away or eat in. This is executive chef Eric Snaith’s second opening, built on the success of Eric’s Fish & Chips in Thornham on the north Norfolk coast, which I have visited several times and wrote about here.
Granted, the experience isn’t fish & chips near the sea in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but once you step inside, the blue and green subtle maritime décor and stone-embedded front counter evoke the Norfolk coast and you almost forget you’re in a retail park unit. The exposed whitewashed brick, multi-coloured wall tiles, plush teal banquette seating and circular light fittings create a welcoming, modern atmosphere.
I eagerly awaited the opening of Eric’s Fish & Chips in St Ives to see how the food and ambience would compare to the one in Thornham, where we have been known to take a day trip just to feast on their fish & chips. So when the invite came to visit the new location, I welcomed the opportunity to taste more of their menu.
I enjoyed their homemade lemonade and Paulo was delighted to try another of Cambridgeshire based BrewBoard’s excellent beers – Seaza session pale ale, specially brewed for Eric’s Fish & Chips. Fantastic collaboration!
The beer battered cod loin was fresh, light and crispy – just as delicious as what we’ve eaten in Thornham. Both the fish and the chips had a distinct sweet and meaty flavour from being fried in beef dripping. Comforting mushy peas and chunky homemade tartar sauce, both quintessential accompaniments, were worth getting (they are available separately).
I had the excellent Japanese style fish burger with dense, flaky battered cod nestled in a springy brioche bun. The pickled mooli, bonito flakes and soy mayo provided subtle Japanese flavours.
We sampled a variety of small plates: battered squid, cod nuggets as well as halloumi & spinach arancini, all served with a wedge of lemon. Each dish was very moreish and filling.
These items (as well as the chips) were not overly seasoned or salty, allowing each individual to tailor the flavours to their personal taste. Salt and pepper shakers plus a variety of homemade sauces in squeezable bottles (black garlic mayo and well as seafood, spicy BBQ and buffalo sauces) are freely available. The curry sauce, however, is a side order and we were given some to sample. It was flavourful and a little sweet – probably an acquired taste!
Desserts include a selection of ice cream and sorbet flavours from Hunstanton based East Coast Gelato (we chose vanilla and Oreo) as well as battered chocolate bars (Mars and Twix) and a fried jam sandwich. This heavenly doughnut-like treat is a must-try… share if you have to!
It’s worth noting that there is the option of gluten-free batter, with a Coeliac UK trained head chef. And even though there are some meat dishes (chicken wings, sausages and black pudding), pescatarians can rest assured that their food is cooked in separate pans and fryers with the option of rapeseed oil rather than beef dripping. In addition, the menu is also peanut and nut free (but do make sure to speak to staff about these and other allergens).
Eric’s Fish & Chips is a high end chippy – a restaurant offering a full dining experience with quality food and drink. As far as I’m concerned if I’m going to indulge in a fried food meal, I prefer to do it less often but pay more for better quality produce in a bright and cheerful setting with great service. For those who prefer to eat in their own homes, the take-away prices are lower and their system makes is easy to pop in and order. There is even a nice little waiting area with counter seating by the window.
It’s child friendly too, with lots of high chairs, a kids’ menu plus a bleacher seating area and at-table games to entertain the little ones.
Whilst dogs are not allowed inside due to the open kitchen, there is seating outside on picnic tables beneath bright orange parasols, complete with water bowls for thirsty pooches.
Eric’s Fish & Chips in St Ives may be a little out of the way but it’s worth the drive for such tasty food, friendly staff and great ambience… and you don’t have to travel as far as Norfolk. “Seas” the day and treat yourself!
I was invited for a complimentary dinner for two. I did not receive compensation for my review. All views are my own.
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