The Little John Eater is more than a counter opening onto the esplanade – but not a great deal more. For sit-down meals there’s the Long John next door, but this new place is obviously intended to soak up some passing trade on that crucial junction at the bottom of Union Street. At such high-exposure locations the temptation must surely be to sell poor quality food in high volumes. Certainly other chip shops in comparable places seem to do this and little else. After all, if your visitors are all day-trippers who might not return for another year, if at all, is there any incentive to cook decent fare?
Because of this effect, Matt and Cat have a rule of thumb about fish and chip quality and proximity to the seaside. In their review of Alexander’s (another Ryde chip shop) they posited: “it seems to be a general truism that to get the best chips, you must simply turn your back on the coast and head inland.” So by that prediction, the Little John Eater should be pretty grim. But oddly enough, it isn’t. In fact, it’s not too bad at all. Matt took his fish-and-chip-reviewing buddies, Bill and Jack, down to the new place to try it out – and they were pleasantly surprised.
The shop is brand new, and although it was doing decent trade it seemed almost unfinished when the lads wandered in one chilly night.
Stuff was still in a bit of disarray behind the counter, but reassuringly there was a big sack of fresh potatoes on view, so clearly the chips here are cut from real spuds.
Matt ordered haddock and chips, the boys both went for cheeseburger and chips – perhaps lured by the glowing illustrated menu board up on the wall, fast-food style. The cheery bloke working the fryer chatted away as he prepared the food, and pretty soon all was wrapped up and ready to be taken home.
On arrival chez Matt the unpacking of the delightful fragrant bundle took place. The anticipation generated by a hot, damp paper parcel of chips is hard to beat, and the triumvirate soon had the food onto the waiting plates, and got to work on it.
The fish was perfect, crisp and fresh rather than greasy and soggy. It hardly stuck to the paper at all. Inside a very substantial haddock fillet was piping hot and delicious.
The chips were excellent examples of the chip-makers’ craft: tasty, variable and clearly cut from real potatoes. A dash of vinegar and a sprinkle of salt and the meals were just what was required.
So, what do you know? A decent chip shop by the sea. Whatever next?