Restaurant review: Wet Fish Cafe, NW6

Wet Fish

Wet Fish - Credit: Archant

With the original 1930s art deco titling harking back to its days as a fishmongers, the Wet Fish Cafe retains the old school charm of its past while serving up a modern and adventurous menu.

Food at Wet Fish

Food at Wet Fish - Credit: Archant

This West Hampstead eaterie is a relaxed cafe serving brunch and lunch by day, and a warm and inviting candle-lit brasserie by night which often lays on live jazz for its diners to enjoy – but it was still buzzing on my recent Wednesday night visit in the absence of any music.

Fittingly, the menu abounds with creative seafood dishes which had me struggling to choose between, but there are also a couple of options to keep meat lovers happy.

We first enjoyed a delicious aperitif in the form of the Wet Fish Cafe’s before moving onto a beautiful Australian sauvignon blanc ahead of the arrival of our food.

Although tempted by the prospect of one of the enticing sharing platters, I ordered the scallops. They arrived perfectly cooked – tender and just slightly browning on top, complimented by the subtle bitter notes of sautéed cabbage, roast pine nuts and anchovy oil as well as the unusual, but welcome, addition of raisins, which brought a fruity dimension to the dish.

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My friend, meanwhile, opted for the pumpkin and coconut soup with giant couscous, gorgonzola and roast hazelnuts, which he was equally impressed with.

When it came to the mains, I was left torn between the special of the day – a dish of pollock with refried beans, but I eventually settled on the spice-rubbed sea bass. It came filleted and cooked with spices, which were punchy but not overpowering and allowed the delicate flavours of the fish to shine through. Meanwhile the spicy seasoning contrasted beautifully with the sweet tastes of the beetroots, marinated apple and artichoke sauce accompaniments. I also opted for polenta chips as a side, which were lovely, but the meal was definitely enough in itself.

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Fillet steak, however, was the choice of my friend – it was a tender, juicy and top quality cut of beef, cooked medium and served with fondant potato, purple broccoli and creamy mushroom sauce with all the flavours coming together a dream.

Neither of us needed dessert, but we still went for it –my friend ordering the cheese board, and myself opting for the saffron-anise crème brulée with coffee biscuits which was an unusual but thoroughly tasty take on this classic dish.

The fact that Wet Fish Cafe has survived as a small independent brasserie in a high street dotted with chain restaurants is testament to the reputation of its food and friendly atmosphere.

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