Thursday, 29 October 2009
The Sea Tree, Cambridge, UK
There is something about fish and chips that makes it truly irresistable; fried potatoes=good, fried fish=good, crispy batter coating=good. How could it possibly go wrong? But the fact of the matter is that it does go wrong, frequently. I have had numerous plates of soggy chips, tasteless fish and flabby batter all oozing out vast amounts of oil, and yet am ever hopeful that the next meal will be better and will contain all the requisite elements of great fish and chips. And there have been a few times when it has. Recent experiences in Southwold and Aldeburgh seem to indicate that the coast, with presumably better access to fresh fish, is the place to be. But what of us land-locked sorts?
Well, at least in Cambridge there may be a solution in sight. The Sea Tree on Mill Road bills itself as an alternative fish bar, and apparently brings in its fish from suppliers on the east coast and Billingsgate rather than from a freezer round the back. And it thus varies its menu based on availability and seasonality. The Sea Tree not only does your traditional fish and chips but also offers pan-fried or grilled fish, with everything cooked to order rather than sitting around desicating under heat lamps. And finally, it also sells fresh fish too!
When we went last Friday it had only been open for a week or two at most, but was already doing a steady trade in both eat-in and takeway customers. Although I was rather dazzled by the unexpected choice of fish and cooking options, myself and the male companion person both chose the battered plaice with chips in order to test out the basics, and a portion of fried calimari for something a bit different. Once it had been cooked for us we were back at home and on the sofa within about 10minutes with plates of hot, lightly battered calimari (no wallpaper paste-esque coating on frozen squid here), well-cooked, non-greasy fish and fluffy yet crispy chips, all served up with big wedges of lemon.
The male companion person declared them the best fish and chips he'd ever had, and although I possibly wouldn't go quite that far they were undoubtly the best fish and chips I've ever eaten in Cambridge.
I had to be restrained from returning the next day, so am very much looking forward to going back and trying some of their other offerings. I spotted wild sea trout and bream on their menu board (I might even try those without any batter), as well as various home-made sauces and salad type things that I'd be interested to see work in a takeway context.
Based on this initial visit The Sea Tree seems to hold great potential for becoming a Cambridge favourite, and is an excellent addition to the less exotic end of Mill Road.
The Sea Tree
13/14 The Broadway
Cambridge CB1 3AH