Borough Market has a world reputation as a super street food venue. It's deserved.
But what if you want something more leisured, a sit-down meal to take a bit of time over?
Then your choice is more limited. There's Roast. It's fine, but expensive and, above all, corporate – you might feel naked without a business suit while the plink, plonk piano has driven me to insanity (or inanity). There's Fish. A lot less corporate. But I had an appalling meal there a few years ago (amazing how you remember the disasters more than the triumphs) so I have never been back. It's recently had a new owner, new menu, new kitchen and new look. It needed all of these so perhaps one day I'll try again.
Then there's Applebee's Fish. It's smaller and less assuming than the others but you can sit at pavement tables and watch the world go by if it's fine (and should you wish!). And it's part of the historic market area.
I've been there a number of times and I can say – hand on heart – that I've always enjoyed the experience.
My last visit was ahead of a local theatre performance – Borough has a number of smaller venues – so we told the server of our time constraints. No problem.
We started by sharing Scallops (£12.50) – a generous portion, delicious served with crispy bacon on a garlic potato bed. With bread, there was enough for two (remember we had to get to our performance!).
My partner's main course was Halibut (£26.50), served with new potatoes, broccoli and a shrimp sauce. Halibut is the priciest fish on the menu and it was beautifully fresh – as it should be as one part of Applebee's is a fishmonger. She pronounced it scrumptious.
I had fish and chips (£15.50). It was “sustainable” haddock plus mushy peas (a formerly north of England and Scotland way of serving peas which reached London about twenty years ago). You might go for this on the grounds that it can't go wrong.
Wrong. Standard dishes such as this are easy to mess up – the chips could be cold or greasy while the fish could be covered with too much batter – but because you know the food so well, you easily realise it is bad! In this case, it was really good including some of the best restaurant chips (for some reason, takeaway chips can often be superior).
We washed it all down with a half litre carafe of Sauvignon Blanc (£15.50), leaving us time for the theatre and a £78.75 bill.
Applebee's Fish 5 Stoney Street London SE1 9AA Phone 020 7404 5777 Website applebeesfish.com Nearest station – London Bridge