What enticed me to go in and eat at Fishworks in the first place is that it's a fishmongers at the front and a restaurant at the back. And, with a sign outside that says 'daily landing from the South coast markets' together with the fish on display in the window, you can make an instant judgement about quality. With the fish on display looking good, I thought I'd give it a try.
Passing through the fishmonger to the restaurant, the interior is quite nice with the decor feeling reasonably fresh, the walls draped with the daily special boards and pictures of the sea (and related fishy things), and the serving staff looking smart in their white shirt and ties, black waistcoats and aprons. The interior photo posted below doesn't do the venue proper justice as I was somewhat trapped between my table in front of me, the wall behind me and a fellow diner to the side of me giving me a single angle on the restaurant; oh well, it's quite nice really.
There's a lot of choice on the fish as you'd expect with a front of house fishmonger and prices are reasonable - it's easy to forget how expensive fish has become even at the retail level. I chose to start with the Fishworks cocktail with Crevettes, Brown Shrimps and Prawns, and for my main, Grilled Dover Sole with lemon and parsley butter. Some of the fish, my sole included, are sold by weight and the waiter went to the fishmonger at the front of the house, returned with the fish for me to inspect, and informed me of the price for my approval or otherwise. I liked this idea and I liked seeing my fish come out of the shop window that had enticed me to enter the restaurant in the first place. It does give a reassuring sense of fresh fish, cooked to order for you.
And while Fishworks is a chain, it doesn't really matter because the product is good enough and fresh enough to carry it and the variation in menu reflecting changes to the daily catch means that you don't feel institutionalised as you do even at other quality chain outlets like the increasingly ubiquitous Jamie's. I left the restaurant a happy punter and will certainly return when I'm in the mood for something fishy.
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