Category Archives: Brett’s Fish and Chip Restaurant

>Fish And Derks

>


Ok – not something I do often – but this is pretty much non-beer related post. This story in The Sun yesterday really brought a smile to my face, however, so I thought I would share. Plus, I know that all of you who read and comment on TGS are foodies as well as…well, beeries. People of taste, basically…

Anyway, the gist of it is that some boffins have surmised that the humble dish of Fish and Chips is keeping regional language dialects alive. Mundane? No, I don’t think so, and neither do the boffins at Leeds University and The British Library, who are all in hand-wringing agreement.

I know there’s a lot of regional differences in how we all dispatch an order of Fish and Chips, but I didn’t know there was this many. I’ve had plenty of arguments with mates (non-Yorkshire-born mates, I might add) who argue that ‘Scraps are weird‘ or that a Breadcake is, in fact, a Barm (or possibly even a Stottie). This article is pure pub banter, as we argue over whose term is best – or even who does the best. Again; mundane? Well, that’s what passionate people do.

Anyway, Fish and Chips does link in with beer. Although personally I prefer a cup of tea with mine when at home, Fish and Chips is usually the first on any self-respecting Gastropubs’ menu – the epitome of hearty fare, sitting alongside such chalkboard staples as Pie or Sausages and Mash – although usually encased in a beer batter, of course. It’s comfort food – and not a dish to be taken lightly, as I found out when I managed to bend the ear of Peter Scott of Bretts in Headingley.
Not only did the man make us some of the finest Fish and Derks (see what I did there) I’d tasted in a while, he took me round the kitchen and explained his secrets – from what fish to use and where from, to the exact temperature of the fat used to fry the fish. This lively man was happy to talk fish and chips all night, and a great night it was.

Oh – and before you ask – I do refer to Fish and Chips as ‘Fish and Derks’ – although not when ordering. I’ve never called them ‘Nerks’ . It’s just a bit of eye contact and a firm exclamation of ‘Once’ or ‘Twice’ to be heard over the din of the fryers. Mushy Peas? Optional, for me. I do, however, find it hard to believe that only 27% of ‘Londoners’ have tried a chip butty. Really? I think some ‘Londoners’ are keeping up appearances there – surely?

>Bretts Fish Restaurant, Leeds

> Bretts Fish Restaurant in Headingley is one of those institutions that, when you visit, you realise exactly why their have that status-simplicity. Bretts does fish and chips; nothing more, nothing less. But it does them right.

When the owner, Peter Scott, agreed to have a chat with TGS, I was suitably eager and after months of trying to arrange something, finally got my act together enough for a good old-fashioned Fish supper. Peter himself is a man who came into food in a roundabout way, and he strikes me as someone who simply talks straight. Get the basics right, and everything else will follow. In food, that’s a golden rule.
During the course of the evening, we discussed trade in Headingley, the clientele he receives, and of course, the food. He explained how the light, crispy batter remains so, thus removing the heaviness that can prevail in batter occasionally, and where his fish comes from – although decency won’t allow me to divulge those secrets here.

We began with a heap of fried Whitebait, silver-skinned and bristling with the lightest of flour-dust; doused in salt and lemon, they didn’t disappoint in that great lip-stinging way. Of course, Haddock and Chips came next -what is there to say? Creamy, clean fish encased in crisp, tasty batter. Home-made tartare sauce, thick with capers and gherkins, and a large dollop of mushy peas (hand-made, of course, the proper way). All very simple, all very wonderful. A taste of home.
One thing that stuck out for me was Peter’s admission that there are no “chefs” at Bretts. Fryers make your meal, and friendly, smiling staff bring it to you. And that’s the point – Fryers (and there’s not many who would call themselves that) are in every way masters of that devilishly hot machine, from the preparation of the fish to the filtering and selection of the oil or fat that makes the humble fish what it is. All food is cooked to order, regardless of how busy the restaurant gets. This applies to the takeaway too, which is an extension of the restaurant, rather than a neon-lit hole for post-drink fodder. Judging by the distance people travel simply to order fish and chips I’d like to think this isn’t lost on the people of Leeds.

Bretts doesn’t advertise – it isn’t needed. Peter pulls out a guest book loaded with gushing comments from visitors from Canada, India, The States and South Africa, no doubt regaling their countrymen with tales of the mysterious ‘Fish and Chips’ we Brits love so much. So I’m taking this opportunity to highlight simply what many people already know. The local and national cricket and rugby teams know how good it is, the press in general love to come here, and now you know.
I’d like to think it testament to my amatuerishness, or maybe the fact that I don’t do sit-down interviews that much that prompted me do forget to take any pictures of the actual food. But in reality the food was simply too good from the start and as soon as we started eating it was game over – Food time. Apologies – it won’t happen again. You’ll have to go have a meal to see the goods.
Bretts Fish Restaurant
12-14 North Lane,
Headingley, LEEDS LS6 3HE
Tel 0113 232 3344
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