#AD – Gifted

Let’s talk chippies. No, not plasterers, that’s for my other blog. Temples of bubbling fats, where spuds get sliced into rectangular cubes of burnished beige and daily catches of fish meet their maker under a cloak of batter. Chippies get a bad rep in Birmingham; the best reside on the peripherals of the city, out in the spots that require a car to get to and the patience to get home. They are good, very good at times, but they are also a product of convenience and organisation. The chips are fried in vegetable oil to appease everyone, the curry sauces are powders to which water are added, and the fish, well, all those canals don’t count for much when it comes to the freshest produce. Interestingly, the argument for fresh is best at the seaside is mostly a fallacy. The cod and haddock is likely frozen at the point of catch out at sea and my own experiences of the chips et al on the coastline stack up to the same vegetable oil conundrum. Must be something about the sea air that adds to the eating.

Fillet of Soul are trying to do things differently, working from a plaice in the city that used to occupy Buffalo & Rye. Those chips are fried in a choice of beef dripping or rapeseed oil, so beef dripping, and are very good, if not brill. Without carping on about it, the beef dripping adds a subtle meatiness and slightly smoky quality. Better, in fact excellent, is the fish; cod steamed from within a hardy batter snaps at the right points and protects the fish from the direct heat. The cod tastes fresh, but what do I know? The curry sauce too, is excellent. Katsu-like as a reference point.

We try other items because it’s free and we are encouraged to do so. A very good negroni, a courgette and onion fritter which needed longer in the fryer, and a chicken bap that’s actually a very pleasant fried chicken sandwich. They have black pudding fritters and chillis and hush puppies that we don’t order because we have dinner to go to afterwards. It’s all about the fish and chips though, isn’t it? You want to know if it’s good. It is. And it’s all cooked to order, which is ambitious at present and possible lunacy on a busy Friday lunch.

Looking at the menu a spend of about £12 per head for food is about right, though obviously account for more if you sit inside and indulge in booze. Overall I enjoyed it and it’ll be a fixture for me in the centre. I’ll get a box, head north and find a spot on the canal near Livery Street. It’s here I’ll make the most of the Jewellery Quarter seagulls squawking away and the water softly lapping up at the shopping trolleys. The seaside, who needs it.