Concept Venues has breathed new life into Notting Hill fish and chip shop Geales nearly 70 years after it first opened its doors. Gaby Huddart went to try the new menu
In marked contrast to their existing operations - glamorous Mayfair restaurant and nightclub Embassy and Berkshire restaurant with rooms the Inn on the Green - restaurateurs Mark Fuller, Garry Hollihead and Andy Taylor of Concept Venues relaunched Geales fish and chip restaurant in early May.
A dining institution of Notting Hill, London, that dates back to 1939, Geales was popular for many decades but had more recently fallen into decline. Concept Venues employed designer Zena Prawl to restore it to its former glory and gently modernise it, and now it has the appearance of a chic beach hut with pale grey walls, wood panelling and floors, antique mirrors and tables dressed with blue and white gingham tablecloths.
Hollihead, whose background includes cooking in many Michelin-starred restaurants including L'Escargot, Les Saveurs and Sutherland's, has created the menu for the restaurant, which has a total of 75 seats: 60 inside - 40 on the ground floor and 20 on the first floor - and 16 outside.
His key aim, he says, was to "update the existing menu, adding a new range of simple favourites that go well with the original staples". The nine starters include retro classics such as prawn cocktail (£8) and dressed crab (£12), plus more modern dishes, including roast sea scallops with burnt orange dressing (£4 each) and Thai soft-shell crab (£8). The crab is encased in a thick but deliciously light and crispy batter and partnered with a pot of feisty chilli, garlic and ginger sauce for dipping.
At main course, the most popular choice of the 60 diners currently visiting at lunch and the 130 average evening diners is one of the four varieties of fish cooked in crispy beer batter: cod, hake, haddock (all £9) or sole (£10). Side dishes are priced separately and include fat, hand-cut chips (£2), mushy peas (£2), crispy onion rings fried in beef dripping (£2) and home-made tartare sauce (50p).
For those wanting something lighter than deep-fried fish and chips, a daily-changing selection of fish is offered either grilled or pan-fried. This is brought to the restaurant daily from Devon and Cornwall and, on our recent visit, included an excellent, firm-fleshed, grilled plaice fillet (£12).
Diners with an environmental conscience can rest easy with whatever they choose, as the menu states categorically that all the fish on the menu is sourced from "sustainable fisheries only".
Desserts are very much of the retro comfort variety and among the six choices is a lusciously moist and jammy roly-poly served with lashing of custard (£5) and warm rice pudding with fresh strawberries (£5).
The global wine list has been carefully chosen to complement the food, with just two rosés and four reds alongside the five Champagnes and 16 whites on the list. Matching individual dishes with an appropriate wine is also made easy, with 12 wines available by the glass.
The restaurant is open daily for lunch (noon to 2.30pm) and dinner (6-11pm) and is achieving a typical spend per head of £25-£30.
What's on the menu
Loch Fyne organic salmon (small/large), £9/£15
Fish soup, £6
Cold or roasted native lobster (half/whole), £14/£26
Half a dozen Falmouth Bay rock oysters, £8
Poached haddock, dry-cured bacon, black pudding and poached egg, £10
Geales salmon and leek fish cake, £14
Sirloin steak served with sauce béarnaise and crispy shallots, £17
Cookies and ice-cream, £5
Mocha tart, £5
Market cheese of the day with crackers, grapes and celery, £5
Geales, 2 Farmer Street, London W8 7SN. Tel: 020 7727 7528www.geales.com