Bronek’s International Fish Cuisine – Northfields, LondonAdvertisement
With a vibrant mix of independent shops, restaurants and cafes, Northfields Avenues in Ealing, west London, makes for a fascinating stroll.
It’s on this very stretch, you might recall, that award-winning Indian restaurant, Patri, won #FtLionsAwards Best Curry House last year, while also serving us Best Main and Best Kebabs.
Well, we’ve encountered another eatery only a few doors down, though one that swims on the other end of the cuisine spectrum, called Bronek’s International Fish Cuisine.
As unique and quirky as this place is, we don’t know what’s more so, the owner, who looks every inch the captain of a fishing vessel, or the interior of this dual-functioning fishmonger-cum-seafood restaurant.
It all begins with an ice-filled display unit outside, which aims at showing off the impressive array of seafood the restaurant’s owner, Bronek (after whom the restaurant is named), has managed to procure on the day.
The day we visited, for instance, there wasn’t just a grouper and a barracuda, but there was also room, believe it or not, for a huge spider crab, which, for those who know anything about seafood will know, is unusually rare for a 40-cover eatery as unassuming as this.
There is then the paraphernalia, memorabilia, ornaments and furnishing being used to evidently build an ambience that’s meant to create a particular experience this restaurant is aiming for.
As decor, you won’t fail to miss the wall-mounted 8-spoke Whitby ship’s wheel; or the boat propellers and the maritime clocks. And what to say of the overhanging fish nets filled with lobsters and other plastic models; or the giant green glass balls suspended from ropes; or the flickering lanterns hanging overhead?
The whole setup succeeds in creating what the restaurant appears to be aiming for: a memorable dining experience at the heart of which is Chef and host, Bronek. And given his years of culinary experience, their USP couldn’t be more clearly defined than below:
The menu is only a guide. The Chef will tailor to your taste and requirements. Please ask. … The Chef is happy to hear your comments and suggestions.
What we encountered inside, was a soft and stringy textured filling of caramelised onions, Norfolk brown shrimp and calamari, with a Far Eastern-oriented mild spiciness that was well tempered by the accompanying sweet and sour sauce.
There’s simply no comparison between freshly-made spring rolls and pre-made frozen ones!RECOMMENDED
With the process of enjoying these fresh and plump looking morsels being simple enough, we dispensed with the lemon, deciding instead to approach these as simply as possible, with a small spoonful of shallots followed by a few drops of the sauce.
In doing so, we got to experience an utterly delicious mouthful of tender, meaty goodness, with the zingy freshness of the shallots followed by the tangy heat of the tabasco.
Honestly, we could have downed half-a-dozen of these and still asked for more!
On first impressions, and in comparison to the various soft shell crabs we’ve enjoyed during our time, this certainly was different.
For one, the batter was unlike any we’ve encountered before, which, rather than being delicate in nature like all the ones we’ve had before, turned out to be made of fine oats, and, thus, thick and quite crunchy. As a result, whilst the relatively soft and wet crab on the inside was barely discernible, the rest just tasted of the batter, which was disappointing.
If there was a redeeming factor here though, it was the accompanying chilli sauce, whose heat built up slowly, but not to the point of being overwhelming.RECOMMENDED
Complete with their bright orange coral, the cooking of the seared scallops couldn’t have been any better, turning out unbelievably soft and tender.
Smartly presented in a seashell full of vibrantly green and mildly salty samphire, and slices of soft mushrooms, with pieces of smoked haddock dotted about the plate, everything had been cooked in herb butter, and served with slices of buttered bread.
Had altogether, we just couldn’t get enough of picking and nibbling on what was, essentially, a small taste of the sea on a plate.
À LA CARTE
And if the above was a small taste of the sea, then this glorious platter was an unmistakable bite of the vast ocean, with half a lobster thermidor topped with grilled cheese, a large scallop, a pair of Madagascar deshelled prawns, and a fillet of grilled mackerel.
Arguably the weakest of the quartet was the lobster, but only because the grilled cheese reached our table slightly less fresh, and thus chewier, than it should have. The lobster beneath too wasn’t as moist as we’d have preferred. Having said that though, the prawns were undeniably good, having managed to retain that tender chewiness. Similarly, the plump scallop was masterfully executed, with the knife just glidding through a velvety piece of flesh. As for the oily mackerel, then this was delicate and flaky, with gorgeous grill marks across the top lending that hint of smokiness to each satisfying bite.
The way in which this grouper was cooked by the chef was just inspired, with the fish firstly being carefully deboned, before being separately barbecued on the grill alongside its skeletal frame, only for the two elements to then be reconjoined, and finished with a mildly spicy curry sauce being poured all over.
With a mound of Thai noodles also added on the side, what we received was a moist, but fairly firm-fleshed fish, with a rich depth of smokiness permeating throughout, and culminating in one of the most scrumptious seafood dishes we’ve had in quite some time. Needless to say, this was our dish of the review!RECOMMENDED
Similar to the above, this lobster was another of the chef’s specials, with the crustacean, though thoroughly mixed in with a curry sauce of sorts, and despite conveniently being broken up into manageable pieces, still turning out to be a messily joyful affair.
Accompanied with West Indian peas and rice, and some lightly spiced noodles, this plate also came with an assortment of half-a-dozen salads.
It should come as no surprise by now that the lobster was cooked impeccably (though it’ll take some patience prying out all that precious flesh).
All that was required by us was to crack open, extract, eat, suck and enjoy all that yummy spiciness.
As for the salad, then there was beetroot, cucumber and sour cream, two kinds of coleslaw, red cabbage, and sauerkraut – all of which were inhouse made.
FISH & SHIPS
Tell us you wouldn’t get excited by a Fillet of Cod or Haddock being placed before you with a golden batter that’s as light- and crispy-looking as these?
For review purposes, we ordered both the garden and mushy peas – the latter done really nicely. But it was the inhouse tartar sauce, with the hint of spice courtesy of the horseradish therein, which we adored with the fish.
If we did have a criticism, then the chips didn’t quite deliver on that rusticity one seeks after in chips with a crispy-light exterior and fluffy interior.
Nevertheless, for a tenner, and given the portion size of the fish itself, this is worth the admission fee alone!
Fentimans is available at most good food stores. We went for the Mandarin & Seville Orange Jigger, and the Curiosity Cola, with the former being the better of the two.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
At the heart of it all is owner and Chef, Bronek, who's as hospitable as he is charming; and whose vision and eccentricity have combined to create what is essentially an experience for seafood lovers. To be sure, the man loves what he does and wants his customers to leave happy and satisfied.
Given that this venue functions as a fishmonger before noon (until 11.30am everyday) and a restaurant thereafter, Bronek's International Fish Cuisine does manage to source and offer, as part of its daily 'Catch of the Day', some unusual selections, such as, if you're lucky, spider crabs and barracudas.
The restaurant, from what we saw on the day and from what we've been told, usually begins to fill up towards the late evening; so if you're planning on coming as a large group, it might be a good idea to phone and book ahead, while inquiring into what's available on the day. We visited on a Wednesday and the place was packed by the end of the evening.
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