Harborne is getting a bit good, isn’t it? I’m not saying that I have anything to do with this, but Moseley was voted number one area to live the year after I moved there and has subsequently got a bit shit after I left, so maybe it is me. When I first lived in Harborne – the time before I single-handedly made Moseley the best place in the country – it was just The Plough and Waitrose. Now we still have The Plough, albeit several times bigger, along with Harborne Kitchen, Tropea, QBox, Sabai Sabai, Wok Chi, Paper Duck and others. There is a national very cool chain who maybe do pizza or maybe don’t likely coming, along with someone I am extremely happy about looking at a site right about now. I gather one of the above mentioned is also looking at a second venue in the area, and when I say “gather” I know for certain but just don’t want to tell you. Okay, there is Giggling Squid, but we can’t have everything. Harborne is a very good place to be right now. You can thank me by buying me drinks when you see me around. I am the drunk one wearing the crown.
This was likely the reason that The Cod’s Scallops decided to have their first West Midlands outpost to go with the four already in the East of the region. Officially the number one fish and chip shop in the UK, they arrived in Brum with the kind of hype usually reserved for papal visits and pop stars. On the second night of opening, I queued for forty-five minutes two places behind a Michelin starred chef. One week later and a winner of Masterchef The Professionals was doing the same. I’ve eaten in twice and had so many takeaways I have considered asking them to get an injunction on me. It helps that it’s a couple of minutes walk from my home, though it’s obvious where we can wag a finger towards when I cardiac arrest this year.
As a result, I can comfortably give my opinion on pretty much the entire menu. First the chips, because I fucking love chips so much I keep a massive one on my shoulder as a pet. They started off not the best, likely due to new staff, but have settled in to probably the best this city has ever seen. Whatever the process is they’ve nailed it; they taste of deep-fried spud and not of grease, with the texture of deep-fried spud and not greasy spud. Sounds ridiculous, yet so many get it wrong. With these you’ll require lubrication. I like the gravy that I’m told is proper northern by a proper northerner, and I like the curry sauce which two white men said tastes almost Sri Lankan despite neither having been to Sri Lanka. I don’t like the Momma Bains chickpea curry which had caught the base of the pan first time around and was short of seasoning second time. Neither was much fun.
On one lunch we get oysters. Fresh as a daisy and shucked properly with a red wine dressing that zips in the right spots. This sits before haddock and chips with mushy peas which are mushier than watching The Notebook from under a blanket with the candles lit. The chips, well you know about them, but the haddock is excellent despite being out of peak season, in one of these crispy batters that would have you believe it was spunked out of a pressurised gun a la Heston had I known that they don’t pull those kinds of tricks here. It’s brittle without being fragile, steaming the fish from within its casing. It’s downright excellent. Maybe as good are the battered sausages, and the tartare is excellent too. They do scraps, which are battered pieces and not fights if they don’t agree with your opinion. That kind of behaviour is reserved for other lesser suburbs.
Eat in and it’s typically mid teens through to early thirties for the posh stuff, take out and it’s a lot less. The world is your oyster, or scallop, or lobster if you can afford it. Talking of which I found out this week that this blog has made the Top 15 UK Restaurant Blogs and Websites for 2022, coming in at a pretty swell 6th place behind the likes of OpenTable. It’s a list ranked on ‘traffic, social media followers, domain authority, and freshness’. I should probably use this as a stepping stone to taking the blog seriously, yet here I am effing and blinding about some stuff in batter. Still, it’s nice to know people still read it. I think I’ll celebrate with chips.