Oct 10 2008 by Lady Who Lunches
Top catches from fish tea specialists
IT wasn’t so very long ago that eating out in Perth boiled down to a selection of Chinese or Indian restaurants, which were regarded as exotic alternatives to the traditional fish supper.
Nowadays, we’ve gone global and diners can eat their way around the planet without leaving behind the city limits and the Cittaslow signs.
Now label me old-fashioned, an old fogey or a dinosaur from the land that time forgot, but there’s still something about traditional fish ‘n’ chips drenched in an ocean of vinegar – let’s leave salt and sauce to the Edinburghers – which reels me in every time.
Maybe it’s memories of childhood onion cramming contests on the way back from the Brownies, or fish suppers huddled against the gale in the East Neuk of Fife, long before Tom Hanks got in on the act.
I remember Elvis Costello reporting that “yesterday’s news was tomorrow’s fish and chip papers” but culinary experts still argue the case for traditional wrapping as opposed to purpose-built polystyrene.
Whatever the pros and cons of the perfect packaging, simply reading a recent PA advertising feature flagging-up the arrival of Marini’s at Highland House was enough to whet the appetite and set the sat nav for St Catherine’s Retail Park.
With the blurb including a namecheck for Nardini’s, the legendary Largs cafe, and being in cahoots with ice cream champ David Equi, the Perth sit-in and carry-out restaurant had a lot to live up to. It managed it, with bells on.
The Italian heritage is reflected in the decor, with striking, psychedelic tartans, Scotty dogs and bagpipes paying homage to “Forza Scozia.” The doorway proudly recounts Marini’s enjoy world record status for turning out 12,406 fish suppers at a single sitting for the Royal National Mission for Deep Sea Fishermen.
And trawlermen would have approved of the haddock netted at the market in Aberdeen.
There were pizzas and specials on offer but we were on a mission. The only debate was over the size of the portions being ordered.
Mushy peas were a given. And the gloriously green concoction was sublime. Other Half considers himself something of an expert and this was way beyond anything Findus the Fisherman, Captain Birdseye or Gordon Ramsay could contrive.
His only regret? Opting for bread and butter and reluctantly having to leave a slice.
The chips were dry and fluffy, the batter light and delicate. As fish teas go, he declared, this was quite a catch.
Purely in the interests of journalistic research, we delved into the award-winning double vanilla ice cream, rather than the sundaes and exotic flavours.
The UK judges were impressed, and so were we.
The good news is there’s a cabinet full of flavours to work our way through on future visits.
Venue: Marini’s at Highland House, St Catherine’s Road, Perth.
Food: Fish and chips, pizzas etc
Decor: Contemporary edge with black and white photographs from a bygone era.
Service: Slick and smiling.
Price: £20 for two.