Back in the day, BC – Before COVID – Wootton Leisure Strip at Christmas was a sight to behold. Alongside the twinkling twin takeaways of Miga and Balti King, Terry’s fish and chip shop had a refulgent festive lighting display that warmed even the coldest of heart-cockles.
As we popped in to order our New Year’s Eve fish supper, we noticed, slightly crestfallen, that the light from the facade’s remaining seasonal star was extinguished. Was this a metaphor, or just perhaps sustainability?
However, inside at the counter, the lights shone brightly, and at the back of the shop an illuminated menu scrolled with dizzying rapidity through the various traditional options (battered sausage) and modern alternatives (popcorn chicken) to the bewildering ‘wally’, which turned out to be a pickled gherkin. Incidentally, in the bohemian Shoreditch-by-Sea (the resort formerly known as Ventnor), a pickled gherkin is pimped into a frickle – a portmanteau of ‘fried’ and ‘pickle’, a sort of edible Brangelina for the hipsters. But we digress.
Wight’s of Ryde is our go-to chippy, so we thought we’d replicate our usual order and see how Terry’s compared. Any takeaway aficionado (which is all of us, now the Island has dishonourable tier four status), will know that a chip can be anything from a puny ‘shoestring’ fry – basically a deep-fried worm of reconstituted spud – to the triple-cooked ‘jenga’ chip which usurped the surprisingly long-lived fries-in-a-bucket trend. But we, as ever, continue to digress.
Matt’s large haddock was an absolute unit; it had to be folded to fit in the box. This mighty slab of fish was cooked to perfection, hot, steaming and flaky. Cat’s cod came crisply battered. Unexpectedly skin-on, the white fish was enhanced with a squeeze of our own lemon, and good sprinkling of sea salt.
Medium cod and chips £6
Large haddock and medium chips £6.60
Onion rings £1
The fish was good, but let’s not mess about, we go to the chip shop because we want chips. Dress up your chips with pies, chicken, curry sauce, saveloys or even frickles if you will: the one thing that is constant in all these traditional chippy classics is chips. And decent chips are worth travelling for. Like the batter, Terry’s chips were nicely browned, giving an earthy flavour to the potatoes and a good bite in the mouth. Better than anaemic chips in our opinion, but the more faint-hearted may prefer a paler, softer chip. Those people should go to McDonalds. And, for a ‘small’ portion, there was a chip-mountain, so top points for generosity. Few would be disappointed by these chips. The onion rings were similarly above par; slightly caramelised, almost sweet.
Terry’s is in a busy, prominent roadside location which for some businesses, seems to be a licence to sell generic food at high prices. Neither is true here. We enjoyed good value and quick service, despite it clearly being a very busy evening, and the simple in-and-out service arrangement made it easy to stay COVID-safe. So if you’re passing Terry’s on an essential journey we recommend you drop by: you will not find it wanting.
This is the full-length version of the review first published in the Isle of Wight County Press.