There’s a plaice for us. It is at Wetherby and is therefore, or can be, on the way back from all the clubs we’ve played in the Premier this season, which will tomorrow include West Ham. To hear some people – our Pete Sixsmith among them – drool about it, you might even take a long detour on the way home from St James’ Park next season …
No more fish jokes for cod’s sake. But the mind wanders towards the winter of 2007, and the back and back-but-one rows of a bus in Jaipur, when two people of similar age got talking.
It wasn’t such a huge coincidence that both of us came from the North East because we were part of a tour group on a holiday in India booked through Hays Travel, Sunderland-based with branches all over the region.
But Heather and I had something else in common. Her family ran Robinson’s fish and chip shop when we were kids and I was a faithful customer as often as the pocket money allowed. And what was so great about Robinson’s was the fantastic amount of scraps they’d pile on you fish and chips, or just chips, as if you’d paid for them.
Fish and chips and football seem to go together. And I thought of India, Heather and her parents’ shop in Diamond Street, Shildon while I read a mouth-watering thread – in truth, mainly a non-football thread – at the Blackcats list.
It began with Jeremy, exiled in Canada, musing about the things he wanted to stock up on or re-sample during a flying visit home in July. You see his list in Salut! Smiles to the left: Crunchie biscuits, Greggs corned beef pasties, fish n’ chips from the place across from the pit gates in Murton, an Indian (the Millan) in Easington Lane.
Among the replies came a host of recommendations for the best fish and chips in the north.
Here’s a selection:
Claire (Washington): “I feel I have to stand up for North East fishies here and say that Queen’s Cafeteria at Seaburn makes the best fish and chips in the known universe. Even my fussy bairn will eat fish from there, and usually he wont go near it. Best fish, best chips and best batter. And then the best view lookin over the sea when yer scrannin it.”
Jeremy (memory prompted): “There’s a canny one on the old A642 which I always used to use to connect between the A1 and M1 before they put in the Leeds bypass. The ‘red and yellow chippy’ … but there’s nothing in my experience that can touch the one across from the Murton pit gates, although generally I agree that Yorkshire has the highest overall standard.”
David: “The wife’s family, living in Guisborough, don’t think you find better fish and chips than those served at the Magpie (or the Maggie as they’ll have it) in Whitby. Obviously, unfortunately titled, but the haddock and chips I had in there on Monday were canny.”
Mick: “I had some from there on Good Friday and can confirm they’re magnificent. Colman’s in South Shields is also up there. And there’s a plaice in Seahouses as well.”
Rob (Kent):“Bimbi’s in Durham by the bus station was my preferred chippy . . . . they always gave you plenty of scrapings/scramptions/batter (deleted as appropriate).
Terry: Saturday night was fish and chip night and ‘get plenty of scranchions’ rang in me ears when I legged it up to Venus’ chip shop on Brinkburne Avenue in Gateshead. They had to be back down home by the start of Armchair Theatre, and latterly Public Eye with Frank Marker. Top class entertainment for the whole family (unless you were nine years old).
Mike (USA): “Bimbi’s used to be top class (especially the one at the Durham bus station) but like many chippies went flying downhill when they stopped using beef dripping to fry in. Last time I was there (2005) they were verging on the minging (Gmail wanted to correct that to munging which is harsh but nearly accurate). Colman’s is very good indeed, Mick. I still had a soft spot for Crozier Street Fisheries near the stadium to be honest, though this was probably influenced by the fact that I’d usually had six pints before the game started, especially evening ones.”
But it is the Wetherby Whaler that gets the votes from the travelling fans I know (though Claire also gave a mention to another Wetherby chippie, “the Frying Pan round the other side of town – Denis Smith’s team used to call in there as well in the late 80s early 90s” – and see Pete’s comment below).
Back to the Blackcats discussion:
Ian: “The Wetherby Whaler happens to be a convenient comfort break point on the trek between the Smoke and the NE. I believe I first started using it as a result of a report that the team coach used to stop off there (after ‘phoning the order ahead) on the journey back from an away game. Probably in the Reid era. Can anyone in that area vouch for the one at 250 Green Lane, Shields? Don’t know its name but it has been recommended to me.”
Stephen: “There is a cracking fish and chip shop in the High Street (or whatever it is called) in Tynemouth. There used to be a fantastic one in Morpeth about 20 years ago.”
Andy: “I can heartily recommend Seashells in Monkseaton too. Whale and chips!”
Maybe Sunderland fans who stop off on their way back from Upton Park will send in their own Egon Ronay ratings – or suggest better candidates for our Golden Cod award ….
* Unsuspecting Hammers with no interest in fish and chips – and here’s a challenge: name one decent London chippie – can start our pre-match build-up at this link and work backwards and forwards
See also: the best fish and chips in the world
** There was also a vote for the chippie at Dyce airport, Aberdeen but that’s probably off most SAFC fans’ matchday route. The top photo? Not Wetherby, nor Tynemouth nor Seaham. Step forward the Big Grill at Sigla, eastern Singapore as recommended at the Flickr pages of Punzy: among “the best battered fish and chips I’ve had. Thick crispy and fresh…the fat chips are heavenly. Comes with a good portion of salad with red vinegar dressing”.