Which is your favourite fish and chip restaurant in Bristol?
For me, Catch22 on Park Street is up there. Located just opposite College Green, it’s half-takeaway, half-licensed restaurant – and since opening four years ago, it’s still going strong. With the in-laws visiting, we were after a quick and easy weekend lunch with both healthier and more decadent options, and somewhere that was family-friendly, too. Catch22 fitted the bill perfectly.
While Catch22 has embraced the sea theme in its restaurant decor, they’ve managed to get it on the right side of the tasteful/tacky line. Flyers advertising wreck sales and framed sea-themed movie posters sit alongside pirate-related prints in driftwood frames in every semi-enclosed booth, the whole lot topped off with artfully draped netting on top.
There’s two tables per booth, giving diners a semi-private dining experience. It’s a tiny restaurant, though, so fitting the pushchair and highchair in along with four adults without blocking the path through to the toilets was a struggle.
The menu’s changed a bit since we last visited, too. As well as the regular battered fish (plus halloumi, chicken and pea fritters) there are breaded choices for something a little healthier. There’s also a selection of fish without batter, along with salads, burgers and pies – plus both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, the former (our waiter told us) popular on Friday and Saturday nights when the restaurant has more of a party atmosphere than at lunchtimes.
Of the four adults there, two of us had bigger appetites than the others…so it was the large haddock (£9.50) and chips that swayed us. Beans on the side for me, too – mainly because the baby loves them, and I knew I’d have to share.
My only complaint would be that charging £2 for that tiny pot of beans is more than a little ambitious. The rest of the meal? Fantastic. Proper chippy chips (and plenty of them, including the lovely crispy scraps), tender, flaky fish with a batter that wasn’t at all greasy, and an incredible zingy tartare sauce – traditional fish and chips, done very well indeed. With the size of that fish, though, that sliver of lemon didn’t really do much…
On the other side of the table, two members of our party chose from the “lighter” section of the menu: fresh fish (no batter) with a choice of sauces and three different heat levels depending on taste – not too dissimilar from a certain chicken restaurant just up the road. Their fish was beautifully cooked, and the sauce tasty enough – but the plates were swimming in it and it was a bit too greasy for their liking.
There’s the promise of vegan “fish” and chips on its way too, which will add to the range of vegetarian and gluten-free choices already on offer. We were impressed back in 2015 when we visited Catch22 for the very first time, and we’re still fans in 2019, too: it’s great to see how the place has evolved into a fully fledged restaurant. The restaurant’s a lovely place to sit and eat, but there’s a big discrepancy in prices between the dine-in and takeaway menus – so if the weather’s nice, grab your fish and chips to go and head over to College Green just over the road to enjoy it.