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Food Review Bretts Fish Restaurant

Sophie Haydock visits one of Headingley's best loved chippies

Food Review: Bretts Fish Restaurant

In England we have a bit of a reputation for that old classic – fish and chips. And here, up in the north, we’re showing the rest of the country how it’s done. You can barely walk down a street in a northern town without the smell of crispy batter and salt and vinegar on hot chips hitting your nose hard. And with the National Federation of Fish Friers based in Leeds, our city is a kind of spiritual home for fish and chips fans from far and wide.

And to prove how far some have come, take a look at the guestbook at Bretts fish and chip restaurant (and take-away) in Headingley. It boasts a dizzying collection of people who’ve enjoyed fish and chips there from around the world – Tokyo, San Francisco, Finland, Nablus in Palestine. All are gushing that they’ve found “fish and chip utopia”.

That Bretts is a sit-down fish and chip restaurant with table service is a novel idea for those of us more used to eating ours with a wooden fork out of a newspaper cone. Inside, it’s a little chintzy – artificial flowers, wood-paneled walls and laminated signs asking customers not to use their mobile phoneS – but also exceptionally welcoming. Husband and wife team, Peter and Anne Scott, have owned the place for 11 years: he serves front of house and has an inquisitive natter with each of his customers.

And what Bretts lacks in style it makes up for in substance.

The food is delicious. For starter we share a heap of fried whitebait (£4.95) and a portion of battered garlic mushrooms. The whitebait is dusted in flour and doused in salt and lemon. The mushrooms are tasty and perfectly cooked: but at £4.25 for a portion of four are quite pricey.

For main, aside from the obvious, there’s also scampi, lobster tails, salmon steak – and dishes like chicken nuggets or omelettes if you really don’t want fish. To get a good sample of what’s on offer, we share a fish platter (£13.95) – a large plate of battered prawn, squid, swordfish and haddock. The fish is creamy, encased in Bretts “secret” batter – very light and not at all greasy. We’re told that’s because it’s the batter that’s fried (in beef dripping) rather than the fish.

The fish comes with home-cut chunky chips, served piping hot. “Our fish hits the table within two minutes of being cooked, the chips within one minute,” beams Peter. And of course there’s homemade tartar sauce, thick with capers and gherkins, as well as mushy peas (£1.30, also homemade), white bread and butter (65p) and two pickled onions (95p). All very tasty.

This is washed down with a couple of small (25cl) bottles of Sauvignon Blanc (£3.75 each) as they don’t do wine by the glass. Dessert is apple and blackberry crumble with ice cream (£4.25) and a cup of tea (£1.50). All food is cooked to order, regardless of how busy the restaurant gets – and despite this, we weren’t waiting long for any of the courses.

Bretts is definitely batter than your average fish and chip dinner – excuse the pun – and well worth a visit. Just don’t forget to sign the guestbook.

Posted on Wednesday 12th May 2010

Bretts Fish Restaurant

12-14 North Lane, Headingley, Leeds, LS6 3HE

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