When my plate of fish and chips arrived at the table, the fish appeared to have been burned to a crisp. Cinder and chips – that’s what it looked like. I wasn’t unduly alarmed. The waiter had warned me what to expect.
“We like to do things a little differently here,” he told me while I was placing the order. “The fish will look burned, but it’s not. We make the batter black.”
Fish and chips with the batter of the fish died black! That is different. I’d never heard of such a thing and I’ve got decades of experience eating fish and chips. I was intrigued.
I was at the Alchemist cocktail bar and restaurant in Eldon Square. In case you are not familiar with the place, I’d better explain. Eldon is a shopping center in Newcastle upon Tyne. It’s pretty big and, in addition to lots of shops, it also has plenty of places to eat.
The Alchemist is one of 20+ restaurants located in Grey’s Quarter on the ground floor. If you want black fish and chips or simply to experience a slightly different vibe, the Alchemist is a good place to go. [MAP]
So there I was sitting with what appeared to be a cremated cod in front of me. At ￡13.50, the dark delicacy was considerably more expensive than the fish and chips you’d get from your local “chippy” but a hell of a lot more interesting.
Either by design or fluke, and I’m guessing it was done intentionally, the black fish wasn’t sitting flat on my plate. It was curled in a way that made it look like a designer cinder.
If I’d gone to Newcastle on another day, I may have missed this unusual eating experience and opted for something else instead. I often eat fish on Fridays though so, when I looked at the menu and saw Alchemy Fish & Chips, it was the obvious choice.
When I looked at the description and saw it was “black activated charcoal battered fish, mushy peas, tartare sauce, curry sauce, and lemon” I was a little mystified.
I’m going to sound like an idiot admitting this but I presumed “black activated” must refer to a species of fish.
By giving me a prior warning, the waiter missed out on an opportunity to see a very perplexed look on my face.
Cutting into the fish was a very interesting experience. The batter crumbled under my knife in a very cinder-like way and all that black around it made the fish seem unusually white. It tasted good. So did everything else on my plate.
Although I’m a curry lover, I don’t normally have curry sauce with fish and chips. I wasn’t going to let the sauce go to waste though so I got busy dipping my chips. Like the rest of the meal, it was very tasty. As for the tartare sauce, it was excellent and the serving was very generous. It was a very interesting meal.
If you are ever in Newcastle and fancy something a little different, I100% recommend the Alchemist black fish and chips. I also recommend the venue itself. The decor is somewhat unusual but what else would you expect from a place with an alchemy theme?
When I got home, I became curious and did a quick investigation online. I wanted to know if the Alchemist is a one-off or part of a chain. It turns out it is part of a chain. There are similar establishments in various parts of the UK.
The menu probably varies a little from one city to the next but, if you can’t make it to Newcastle there’s a chance you may be able to get some black fish and chips somewhere closer to home.
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