Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published December 9th 2014
Return of the Chippy
98 The Broadway Wimbeldon, London, SW19 1RH
Since 2012 and the sad passing of George Poupides, who owned Broadway Place on Hartfield Road, Wimbledon had been without a proper fish and chip restaurant. Then one day in the late summer of this year I was on the bus, when I suddenly spotted a boarded up shop on The Broadway advertising Cousins Fish Shop. Excited by the prospect of a long awaited chippies returning to the town, a quick Google search brought me to their FaceBook page.
Cousins is a family business, and the family bought the old salon building at auction. They were asked to take part in the BBC Homes Under The Hammer Television series, with its creation being filmed for an episode.
For the next few months I kept in the loop as they slowly teased followers about when it would be opening. As a follower, I was invited to their launch party on the 3rd December; unfortunately was working that evening, but it didn't take me long to poke my nose through the door.
In a way, it was an advantage to wait a few extra days because it meant I could spy upon the menu on their website. I was really pleased to see that alongside traditional battered favourites, there was also a unique offering of healthy dishes. Great for those who love their fish and chips, but are at the same time watching their waistline.
Cousins also has a children's menu aimed at those eight years old and under, which includes classic cod & chips, chicken nuggets, bangers and mash, tempura prawns, and ice cream (two courses for £6.50). For kids up to eleven, they host after school parties for £8 a head.
They have a third menu especially for takeaways, which is a bit different. While most takeaway menus offer a small range of what's on the main menu, Cousins takeaway menu has things that you can't get when eating in, such a saveloy/battered sausage, pickled egg/onion, fishcake, and the ultimate comfort - a chip buttie.
The layout of Cousins is well divided, as the takeaway section is separated into a 'walk-thru' area, so you don't actually have to enter the shop. That means you won't get a long and potentially noisy queue inside.
The restaurant itself has a light, bright 1950s diner theme. white tables and Aqua walls stencilled with fish provide that all important seaside atmosphere, while accents of green, red, and yellow on the furniture adds a subtle retro feel.
As the name suggests, Cousins is owned by a group of six siblings and cousins who support the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. 75p from every platter ordered goes towards the RNLI. They work closely with their suppliers to ensure all their seafood is harvested from sustainable sources. All dishes are cooked fresh to order, so while it might take a little bit longer, the results are worth the wait.
Would you believe my dad asked 'which one's the ketchup?'
When my dad and I arrived, Antonia told us to take a seat, and that she would be with us in a moment. That moment never came. Despite only having one other customer, it took about fifteen minutes for someone to come and take our order. Antonia had disappeared to deal with a takeaway, so we were greeted by Panos (who for some reason had not realised we hadn't ordered). He was polite and friendly, but had a habit of walking away before we'd finished making our order.
Fish Soup (£4.75)
For starters I asked for the fish soup (£4.75). When it arrived, I was a bit worried, because I saw large chunks of salmon - a fish I really don't like. After a few mouthfuls, however, all my doubts vanished, because it was absolutely beautiful. Along with the salmon, there were chunk pieces of sea bass, cod, and haddock. It was a truly filling dish, and probably had more fish in it than an actual main course.
Dad ordered whitebait (£4.75). Wherever I have seen whitebait served before, it has always come coated in breadcrumbs, which I generally consider a waste for such a little fish, and puts me off because of the added calories attached. Cousins, however, serve it as nature intended. Dad received a substantial bowl with dozens of eyes staring up at him - which were quickly dipped in tartar sauce.
Sea Bass with New Potatoes (£13.75)
All the fish mains come accompanied with the choice of chips, mash, or buttered new potatoes. For our mains, we decided to share a steam seabass with new potatoes (13.75) and a side order of mushy peas (£2.50). Panos warned us that the sea bass was too small for two people, and that we should either order one each or a battered fish between us. Since the starters were so filling though, we made the right decision and stuck to our guns. For the price, the size of the sea bass was small, and not the kind of money we would be splashing about everyday; but for an occasional treat, it was just right. Well almost. Although the fish had been filleted, I did find a small bone, and the sea bass was made even smaller by the fact that one small corner had not been cooked throughly enough to be eaten. Despite this, the fish was divine.
Mushy Peas (£2.50)
For a long time I had been put off fish after trying cod and finding it was pretty tasteless. I came to the naive conclusion that all fish must be like this, and didn't eat anything other than tuna for ages. I then started to become more adventurous, and this was my first taste of sea bass. Flaky and melt in the mouth, it was haven on a plate. The new potatoes and mushy peas were equally gorgeous. One portion of potatoes was enough to serve three people.
After a goodly rest, we went on to tackle pudding. Dad had a warm chocolate brownie with raspberry coulee (£4.85), which was sweet, rich, and dense. Dad enjoyed it, but after sharing a bite, a bit too sickly for me.
I chose apple crumble (£4.85), which came with a choice of ice cream or hot custard. Given the weather, I chose the latter. And I got a lot of it. The jug was enough to cover three crumbles, and Dad - being a great lover of custard - ended pouring half onto a spoon for himself, and eating it on its own. The crumble itself was wonderful, and so juicy it actually didn't need custard at all.
Although it took a while for our orders to be taken, and a small amount of our fish was underdone, overall, Cousins gets a big thumbs up. I love that the menu offers that bit more than your usual chippy, and that you can be sure your fish is coming from a sustainable source. There might be a few details that need to be ironed out, but for being less than one week old, I say, bravo.