Reviews of Fishes, Burnham Market
Review by Paul on 15th October, 2007
Add your review Date visited: 29/9/07
Having read some rather negative feedback I approached our booking at ‘Fishes’ with some trepidation, but as things turned out I really need not have worried. We were five for lunch, my wife and I (easily pleased), my mother-in-law (very, very fussy) and two 15 year olds. Of the youngsters my daughter is a complete foody and game to try anything, her twin brother a trencherman who knows what he likes. M-in-law eschewed a starter, the rest of us tucked in. Daughter and I had mackerel tartare and very nice it was too. I really, really can’t remember what the memsahib had (I’d call her but she’s in a meeting), but the growing lad had seared tuna with a tuna spring roll, chilli dipping sauce and what looked like wasabe foam. It was brilliant, and I had to be really persuasive to get even a morsel (only the threat of an 80 mile walk home worked). For mains, son and mum-in-law had hake and chips with sauce tartare – good crisp fish, excellent ‘wedge’ type chips and plenty of them. She who must be obeyed splashed an extra fiver on the lobster and goes on about it still. I had sole which was perfectly executed with a ‘cassoulet’ of lentils which hit the spot nicely, the daughter was more that happy with smoked haddock with the de-rigueur poached egg. Deserts were fine, the cheese well kept. I was impressed with the service. When asked about vegetables the waitress was correct in observing that we were probably well provided with those that came with what was ordered, while there was no upturned eyebrows at the request for a jug of tap. We had a half bottle of Montrachet that was far from overpriced. I’d recommend Fishes!
Date visited: 29/9/07
Review by jon mitchell on 11th June, 2007
Add your review Date visited: 9th June, 2007
In a word ‘Disappointing’. In two words ‘Disappointing’ and ‘Expensive’. We had visited Fishes a few years ago and had a thoroughly good time, a first class meal, and had recommended it to many people as a result. We had been looking forward to returning, and now had the chance. But two years down the line, the prices have gone up, the enjoyment levels down, and the accountants seem to have taken over. Things started in irritating fashion. We had tried to book for 8pm but were told we could only have a table at 7pm or 9pm. Fair enough, a good restaurant staggers bookings so as not to overwhelm the kitchen, and I had left it to the day before to book. So we plumped for 9pm and had a drink in the Hoste Arms beforehand. Given the choice of times, I was expecting a full restaurant on a busy Friday night. But it was less than half full. Maybe our fellow diners had all booked for 8pm, but it was slightly annoying nonetheless. Particularly as I’d bet a fiver that if we’d walked in off the street at 8pm without a booking, we would have been seated without question. On arrival, and before we’d even had a chance to announce ourselves, we were told by a passing waitress to “hold on a minute” and were left at the front desk shuffling our feet while they attended to more important matters than the arrival of new customers. Not the warmest of welcomes. Once we were seated, and as custom dictates, we were given menus to look over. And very nice they looked too. To start with, we were tempted by a terrine of foie gras, smoked eel, and piquello peppers served with toasted brioche, along with a plate of six Brancaster oysters with shallot vinegar and lemon. Unfortunately the starters arrived before the bottle of wine we had ordered (a Constantia Uitsig 2005 Sauvignon Blanc at £25), and so we sat looking at our dishes until the wine arrived. Lucky the starters were cold. The terrine was fine although the smoked eel wasn’t particularly evident and, given the ingredients, the dish was surprisingly uncharacterful and lacking in something. The oysters however were great specimens - splendidly plump and full of flavour. The only note of criticism is that every single one of them contained shards of shell which it wouldn’t have taken too much bother for the kitchen to pick out before serving them. For mains we both went for a dish of Roast Turbot ‘meurette’ with puy lentils, button onions, button mushrooms, lardons, persillade and a red wine sauce. Turbot is one of my all time favourite fish and I will order it whenever it is on a menu and finances allow (at Fishes it comes with a supplement of £6 per head, but then it’s a pricey fish). So it’s all the more disappointing when it doesn’t delight, as was the case here. The ‘meurette’ element of the accompanying ingredients was as it should be, a dark concentrated essence of red wine, stock, and vegetables, with proper depth and flavour. But the fish was strangely lacking. Whereas I had been hoping for (and with the supplement, thought I was paying for) a nice fat fillet of Turbot, the cut on my plate was mean spirited, with about half of it’s weight consisting of bone and cartilage. It felt, and looked, like an offcut, and required good knife and fork skills to get into). To top it off, it was a few minutes shy of being properly cooked and the flesh closest to the bone had to be cut off rather then pulled away. This fish had also obviously been cooked entirely separately from the other ingredients, and was insipid in comparison. Dessert menus followed and we liked the look of a plate of local cheeses. But 20 minutes later its appeal had waned and when the waitress finally arrived to take our order, all we were in the mood for was the bill. At which point, with the prospect of a tip looming, the waitress suddenly made a half-hearted effort to get chatty and attempt a smile. The bill is the root of my problem with Fishes. Two courses are £33, three courses £38. With the supplement for the Turbot we paid just under £40 for two courses. The whole bill came to £110, excluding (pretty average) service. I am perfectly prepared to pay top dollar for top nosh, so long as there is a proper element of value for money in there somewhere. But we came away from Fishes feeling like fleeced tourists. The food was ‘fine’. The service ‘okay’. The experience ‘average’. But for that sort of money it is not unreasonable to expect a little more. Like proper service and memorable food. The best dish we had was the oysters, and we could have got them for a pound a pop down the road at the fishmongers. Also, at those sort of prices one might expect table cloths, decent cutlery, crockery, glassware, and maybe some frippery like an amuse bouche, and a smile or two. We got none of those things but did get rather too loud music coming from the kitchen. The overall feeling was of dining at a decent bistro. Yet somehow at the end of the meal we were presented with a bill for a Michelin starred meal we didn’t have. Maybe Burnham Market is now paying for its nickname of 'Chelsea-on-Sea' and Fishes has become too accustomed for its own good to the rich pickings of undemanding customers with deep pockets. We came away feeling that the care, attention to detail, and effort that had been palpable two years previously, had all but vanished.
Date visited: 9th June, 2007
Review by Berry on 8th April, 2007
Add your review Date visited: 8-4-07
Wonderful. No criticisms. Will definitely go again. Staff friendly and relaxed, food superb, ambience just right for an unhurried lunch.
Date visited: 8-4-07
Review by Fellicity Macy on 13th July, 2006
Add your review Date visited: 16/05/06
One of the best meals ever. The bloody Mry Otsters quite superb. We reccommend Fishes to all our friends without hesitation
Date visited: 16/05/06
Review by MDW Simpson on 20th March, 2006
Add your review Date visited: 11.03.06
Visited on a recommendation, with high expectations,also entertaining guests. Pleasant surroundings. Starters were innovative and well presented, if a little small(One sardine)Langoustines £3extra were delicious. The main course monkfish,alas was grim. Had been hanging around for far too many days to be fresh, and was exteremely salty, which still did not disguise its staleness. Quietly requested its removal. Other main courses varied from good to lovely. Owner, obviously more used to praise, dealt with it poorly. Highly disappointing, and leaves a bitter taste! Were charged, and paid, the full price...£18 each for 2 courses, plus extras, wine, coffees.. No gesture of goodwill for returned main course, nor an apology, in fact, the owner, disappeared, and left the lovely staff, with a limited comprehension of English, to deal with it. So a big thumbs down Fishes, which is disappointing as it could have been so different with a little courtesy. On balance the food was interesting, but the whole experience uncomfortable.Cannot honestly recommend this to anyone, even although you might get a reasonable meal.
Date visited: 11.03.06