I've kind of lost touch with the mesmerising number of awards Frankie's, our local chip shop, has won, is in for, almost won or is in the process of winning. But there are loads. Despite the fact that I am fairly bamboozled by the variety of 'best fish and chip shop' competitions it would appear you can enter (and I presume there are all sorts of professional bodies to join and entry fees to pay) there is no question that Frankie's is among the best in the UK, and we're very lucky to have it. Well, 10 miles or so away, in Brae. You want carefully-sourced local fish, cooked from fresh? Come to Shetland.
Now, one of my issues with Frankie's is just that: being 10 miles away. So that any carry-out, even transported home at top (safe) speed, is going to be just slightly too cool for ideal consumption. Fish and chips should be eaten sizzlingly fresh. And therefore, if we can, we 'eat in' at Frankie's, which opens up the possibilities of its 'catch of the day' menu and, err...puddings.
So yesterday, we headed down for a late (2.00pm, the sun just setting over Muckle Roe) lunch (booking a table; this is a very busy place, though as it happens there was plenty of room). The 'specials' menu included home-made fish cakes, langoustine tails in batter, and pan-fried scallops in Cointreau and fennel (£15 with chips). The mussels menu has been up and running for a while (Blueshell locally-farmed mussels, same as in London chain Belgo, recipes from Mussel Inn, Glasgow) but we were in the mood for frying. Susan had the langoustines, I had the 'Muckle Haddock' In batter. Chips, of course.
Now, we have eaten in Frankie's a lot. It's always been good. If I've ever had a slight quibble, it was that an occasional heaviness crept into the fish and the chips, which I put down to batter recipe and possibly the new-fangled oil-recycling super-efficient ecotastic fryers. I'm an industrial west of Scotland guy with a taste for lard that's been superheated all weekend and used for deep frying pizzas and black puddings. Whatever has happened, if anything, yesterday's food seemed on a different level. Everything, chips, prawns, fish, appeared lighter, crispier (and not brown and over-fried either). There was an almost tempura-like texture to the batter.
Maybe we were just very hungry. But for the first time at Frankie's I had a sweet - sharing a sticky toffee pudding and ice cream with Susan. Home made and delicious. Hey, half each! Moderation!
The coffee has always been a slight letdown at F's. It's pre-programmed 'Cappuccino' and in a Brae of scallops in Cointreau, we should really be talking just-roasted beans and a barrister-made espresso. Or is it barista? Or if Cappuccino's too tricky, maybe a V60, Clever or Aeropress.
So, that's Frankie's. Never mind the awards. It's really very good. And that view...