Fish and Chips. The British classic, by this point almost overtaking burgers as my go-to comfort food. It transforms a city lunch break into a short holiday, and even if it IS covered in batter, a really good fish and chips can be satisfying in an (almost) light way. Or so I like to tell myself.
Old Salties has so far been the chippy I frequent the most, I've written about it before. It's close-by and really, really good, as well as reasonably priced.
But as they say, variety is the spice of life. Not wanting to get stuck in the same old, chip shaped rut, Calum and I headed into town to a chippy I've been told about before, but never visited. One that is recognised as an iconic Glaswegian restaurant, The Chippy Doon the Lane.
If you go to Old Salties for your faux seaside lunch, then you would head to The Chippy Down the Lane for your fancy holiday dinner. Down the tiny, and inconveniently un-signposted McCormick lane, off to the left of Buchanan street if you're coming down from the galleries, it is pretty easy to find as long as you keep your eyes peeled. When you do, the restaurant is Tardis like. From the outside and the thin entrance staircase you expect a pokey wee place to match the traditional twee name. Instead, it opens up into a huge, modern and very chic restaurant, with a number of different rooms and a marquee. It feels classy, yet down to earth and friendly. You would not look out of place if you were sipping on one of their selection of £5 cocktails to go with your fish supper, or had ordered a bottle of prosecco.
The menu offers a selection of fish more extensive than most chip shops, from sustainable pollock and coley, traditional cod and haddock, to the more luxurious plaice. For non-fish eaters, the menu includes a fantastic looking burger, tangy southern fried BBQ chicken, fishcakes, tandoori salmon as well as haggis, black pudding, sausage and steak pie suppers. Deal wise, they have a lot going for them. Opt for the 'Fish Tea Special', which includes a Coley supper, tartar sauce, lemon, bread and butter and either tea or coffee, for just £6.45. If you are stopping in for dinner with a girlfriend, or a lunchtime break from shopping, you can get two fish suppers and two small glasses of house wine for a very reasonable £18. So far, so good.
Now, I fully appreciate that a good fish and chips is a good fish and chips and there is only so much between one and the next. So it has to be down to the little things to elevate your chippy above the others, and ensure the food lives up to the hype. The Chippy Doon the Lane dubs itself "the best chippy in Glasgow", well, we would soon see.
I chose to have my pollock battered, never one for the healthy option, and it was delicious. The fish itself wasn't the whale-like portion that you sometimes get, but to me that was a good thing, it meant I really enjoyed the portion I had. It was perfect, the fish was fresh and flakey and I ate all the light, crispy batter. I would really recommend pollock, it's a sustainable white fish which is just as delicious and meaty as haddock or cod, but doesn't damage diminishing fish stocks. The huge bed of delicious chips the fish came on made sure I was definitely full, but not in a way that made me feel like having a three-day-long nap. I also had the mushy peas, made with traditional, creamy marrowfat peas, the richness of which was cut perfectly by the tangy homemade tartar sauce. The whole lot was served in a cardboard tray, complete with wooden fish fork. Heavenly. Calum, who for years hasn't been able to eat fish, is slowly trying to acclimatise himself to it once more, and this was the first time he tried my fish and said he enjoyed it. Not just tolerated it, but actually liked it. If this pollock can convince him, it will definitely tick boxes for you.
Calum had the southern fried chicken goujons, which came on a bed of chips with salad, BBQ sauce and coleslaw. The chicken was free range, a big plus since when you eat chicken out most of the time, you know it isn't, but nevertheless I always feel guilty choosing not to ask. The chicken was fried in a batter that was heavier than the fish batter, but it complemented the goujons perfectly, and was lightly spiced. Calum said the coleslaw wasn't the best he'd ever had, but overall he really enjoyed his meal and finished the lot. He was full too, and he has hollow legs.
Price wise, we paid just under £25 for our meal, and given the quality and quantity of the food, as well as the excellent service, it felt well worth it. The only thing I would say was that the alcoholic drinks were a bit too pricey for me. For instance a pint of Heineken was a fiver, which seems a bit ridiculous, seeing as the cocktails were also £5 and a pint of craft beer in most good pubs isn't that expensive. However they did regain a few points, because you can choose to get a pint of your favourite soft drink, rather than just a glass or can, something I really like as some places just give you those tiny glass bottles which you end up needing three of.
Overall, The Chippy Doon the Lane is definitely high up in my personal running for 'the best chippy in Glasgow'. The actual fish supper was one of the most delicious I have had and I can't wait to try the different fish options on the menu, as well as the other dishes. The non-fish options make it a great place to take anyone, and the restaurant has a flexible atmosphere, making it appropriate for any occasion, be it casual lunch or special meal. You can even hire out any of the rooms for private dining, and it seems like a perfect venue for a quirky wedding reception.
Of course, different chippys offer different things, but this one is a perfect mashup of elegant dining experience and great comfort food, prosecco and cardboard fish trays meeting in perfect harmony, yet still with great value for money and brilliant, friendly service.
The Chippy Doon the Lane is perfect for those times when you feel like going out for a treat, but still eating something simple and classic, that's reasonably priced and not a burger - although they have one of those if you really fancy it - but still hits all of the same, indulgent buttons. Go, I urge you, and be ready for a place that makes your humble fish supper a really special occasion. Worth writing poetry about.