Restaurant review: Simply Fish in Boxpark, Shoreditch

A combination created from the step-by-step menu at Simply Fish.

A combination created from the step-by-step menu at Simply Fish. - Credit: Archant

Simply Fish, an ambitious north London start up, has gone east for its second home as the first restaurant to open on top of Shoreditch’s trendy pop-up mall Boxpark.

Open kitchen at Simply Fish.

Open kitchen at Simply Fish. - Credit: Archant

The menu is basically split in two with one side devoted to a step-by-step, assemble your own fish dish gamble and the other featuring a selection of specials.

At the bottom are four options for people who don’t like their food from the sea. Due empathy and consideration for the fish averse noted, but get into the spirit of things if you’re going to an eaterie called Simply Fish.

The first choice you face is picking from eight types of fish/seafood, then how you’d like it cooked (tempura batter, steamed, pan-fried, or baked), what sauce you’d like it with, and finally two accompaniments for your aquatic friend.

Think of this part of the menu as a classier, fisher Nandos - but that association is probably selling Simply Fish very short because it’s harder to cook fish with finesse than it is to stick some chicken on a spit, and it’s certainly not the sort of place that makes you collect your own cutlery.

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If you’re unsure whether you should batter your pollock, the fantastically friendly staff are there to avert disaster.

This ‘pick your own’ menu is a great way to get fussy eaters to experiment with different kinds of fish but the specials on the other side are so well put-together that there’s no need to mix and match if you just want a blindingly good plate of food.

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As a lucky reviewer, I was treated to a small selection of starters or ‘small plates’ as they appear on the menu, including king prawns sizzling away in their shells, fresh salmon Ceviche on leaves with a sparky citrusey dressing, and pieces of calamari in breadcrumbs with spring onions and a coconut sauce that were cooked so well, the little suckers converted my squeamish sister, who was accompanying me for the night, into a certified squid fan.

I chose the fish stew with rustic bread from the specials menu - a very popular choice apparently - and I struggled to count every fish in it. Served in a homely bowl, it was a generous serving and packed full of flavour.

My sibling played the mix and match game, choosing pan-fried sea bass with a herbed tomato sauce, seasonal veggies, and chips - again, beautifully cooked in large portions.

We finished with a chocolate mousse and Chantilly cream, and a cleverly deconstructed vanilla cheesecake.

There are only light, refreshing desserts served here which is probably for the best. I have nothing against cake - quite the opposite - but a wedge of chocolate fudge would not go down well after seafood, so the choices here are well balanced.

The restaurant itself is starkly decorated in simple pine wood throughout with a small open kitchen in the back. This makes for a gorgeous smelling atmosphere but not an altogether cosy one and this wintry weather we’re having meant it was far too cold to take advantage of the softly lit, wooden terrace outside.

But, as a fish enthusiast, I will certainly be returning to try it during the summer - simply delish.

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