Fresh fish fetish

Steve Hatt, Islington

Peter writes: My mum says when I was a toddler she used to have to make a detour so that we didn’t pass the fish shop, the sight of all those lovely fish laid out on the slab would have me bawling my eyes out. By the time I was fifteen or sixteen I’d got over that and had a Saturday job working in Macfisheries. Remember them? The perks of the job were I got to take home any fish that was left over at the end of the day, which my mum was very pleased about. The downside was that despite having two baths and dousing myself from head to foot in Brut before going out on a Saturday night, I was always convinced I still smelt of fish.

Anyway, fast forward to the present day, what’s all this about a fish fetish? Well, to be honest, we just thought it was a nice bit of alliteration, but we do have a thing about fish. We love it. Some of our best meals have involved fish.  It’s much easier to cook than many people imagine, the trick is to keep it simple. And there are so many different kinds of fish out there to try.

Really good wet fish shops are thin on the ground these days so The Italian and I were really pleased to find Steve Hatt’s fish shop on Essex Road in Islington. It’s been there since 1895, and has been in the family for four generations. We love shops like this, compared to buying your salmon steaks at the fish counter in the supermarket it’s a whole different kettle of fish. (Did I really just say that?)

The morning we went there were about twenty different kinds of fish on display – bream, cod, conger eel, Dover and lemon sole, grey mullet, hake, mackerel, monkfish, octopus, plaice, rainbow trout, red snapper, sardines, sea bass, sea trout, skate, squid, turbot, wild salmon – I just love reeling off the names – as well as a host of smoked fish and shellfish – brown shrimps, clams, crabs, mussels, oysters and scallops.  They sell only the best, and they’re discriminating about where they source it. Regulars range from OAPs to TV celebrities, service is boisterous and jovial. Get there early if you can. Shops like this are what it’s all about.

Steve Hatt, Islington
88-90 Essex Road
London N1 8LU

020 7226 3963

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