Eating Out: Fisk Seafood Bar, Downings – a much better bet than self-catering
Fisk Seafood Bar
The Harbour Bar
AH, BLISS. Two weeks’ holiday in Downings, tiny jewel of the Rosguill Peninsula. Green hills, golden beaches, blue sky, soaring temperatures, the shimmering magic of all things pelagic. Life doesn’t get better than this.
Wait, what’s that you say? In a self-catering cottage? Oh, well, in that case, life very much does get better than this. Don’t get me wrong. Self-catering has its plus points. You get to go away while still having all the comforts of home. You’ve got space; you’ve got freedom; you can listen to the Radio Foyle Breakfast Show and get that warm, familiar thrill of leaping for the off switch just as the Nolan Show starts.
But you’ve also got to do the cooking and the cleaning and the washing up. You sometimes think you might as well have stayed at home and stuck a picture of Mount Kiliman-flipping-jaro over the kitchen window.
So what do you do? Stop complaining and make the best of things? Never! Eat ready meals with your bare hands straight from the tinfoil? Well, my wife and I gave this a go, but the one, solitary supermarket within a thousand miles only did two ready meals – chicken curry and curried chicken – so that wasn’t going to work for a fortnight. Which just left us with… eating out.
Of course, we didn’t know any of the local restaurants, and finding somewhere good when you’re away is a tricky business. But one day we spotted this place, Fisk, as we set off to explore the Atlantic Drive round the peninsula. There was just something about it that told you it was going to be good.
High above Sheephaven Bay, on the road out of Downings, sitting next to a lovely pub, the first impression from the outside was one of quality, and the only thing wrong with this first impression was it underestimated just how good the place was.
A couple have come close, but I honestly can’t remember having a meal better than this. Now I know I was on holiday, and the weather was fantastic, and I was having a great time, so the situation may have lent itself to exaggeration but still, taking all that into account, it was nevertheless fantastic.
It’s only a small place, maybe seating for 20, almost more a kitchen diner than a restaurant, and I don’t think you can book, so you may have to wait in the pub next door for a table, but it’ll be worth the wait, trust me.
It’s all fish (that’s what Fisk means, in Swedish), and the dishes are small plates, so it’s made for sharing.
A catch of mackerel had just come in that morning, so we went for that. Soft, delicate, gentle, perfectly cooked, and just ace with a forkful of potato salad. The crab toast was sweet at first and then kicked in with that sea-savouriness the white meat has. Talking of kicking in, the celeriac remoulade it came with was dotted with eye-watering capers that kicked like the Tiller Girls.
Incidentally, the salads and vegetables that came with each dish were given just as much thought as the main event. We came back later in the week (we’d planned our second visit before we’d finished our first) and there was a beautiful sweet and aniseed blend of fennel and apple salad served with the fish cakes.
The squid rings – perfectly cooked, soft and tender – were covered in lovely panko breadcrumbs which kept their crunch throughout, and drizzled with a creamy, spicy mayonnaise.
I loved the Fisk tacos. The flatbread discs were soft and just the right thickness, the coleslaw was colourful and delicious, and the firm flakes of haddock were encased in a beautifully crisp batter, all coming with a warm chilli hit.
However, pudding, and a fault. I had a slightly runny lemon posset. (I know, it sounds like something you might lower your voice for when telling the GP). In truth, though, it didn’t matter. The sharp, sweet, smooth confection still tasted gorgeous, runniness notwithstanding.
Self-catering holidays are best when some other self does the catering. Flavours, tastes, textures, Fisk does it brilliantly.
Fresh mackerel and potato salad €10.50
Crab toast €9.50
Fisk tacos €9.50
Squid rings €7.50
Spicy rice €3
Lemon posset, shortbread biscuit €5
Glass of Pecorino €5.50
Total: €50.50 (£44.74)