With four successful London restaurants to their name, fish and chip experts Kerbisher & Malt have opened a fifth location in north London’s Clerkenwell – but this time the new eatery is a little different
Nick Crossley and Saul Reuben, the brothers in law team behind Kerbisher & Malt, opened their first restaurant in May 2011. Now after opening their fifth restaurant in London – Clerkenwell to be precise – they still continue to redefine the way fish and chips are made.
The idea of their popular fish and chips restaurant came when they realized there was a gap in the market for good fish and chips shops. Saul, previously a chef at OXO Tower, and Nick, with a background in business and finance, decided to combine forces.
Saul decided to approach the idea of a fish and chips shop from a chef’s point of view to create a unique take on the classic British food, starting with their chips. Kerbisher & Malt double fry their chips to create a perfectly fluffy interior with a crunchy exterior. Unlike other fish and chips shops where preservatives are main ingredients in their fish and chips, Saul and Nick had another idea.
‘Everything we do comes from the chef’s angle of let’s do it in the best way we can, let’s get fresh fish, let’s make our own mushy peas, let’s make our own tartar sauce, let’s make our own batter,’ says Nick passionately. ‘We don’t really buy anything in other than the ketchup and the vinegar – and were working on the ketchup!’
Even though Kerbisher & Malt uses only fresh ingredients with homemade recipes, do not mistake them for a posh seafood restaurant. When they set out to create a fish and chips shop they only wanted to do fish and chips – and nothing else. They thought if they put other fish dishes on the menu suddenly they would lose the feel of a fish and chips shop.
But unlike conventional fish and chips shops, Kerbisher & Malt’s restaurant design is fresh and modern. No grease or neon light, but trendy and clean designs span their five uniquely designed shops. With a 60 seat restaurant in Ealing, a café style shop in Brooks Green and the new Kerbisher EC1, each shop has a different style.
Their newest addition, conceived to be a takeaway shop, has 12 seats for a quick bite or a drink. ‘It’s a place where you can definitely come and sit down and have a beer and relax, but we do a lot of takeaway from here,’ says Nick.
With a lot of businesses in the area, they see a mixture of takeaway and sit down orders. The restaurant is aimed at a younger crowd than their previous restaurants, with its relaxed urban feel and louder music. About to launch is online ordering where customers can easily click and collect their food.
‘It’s quite easy to get carried away if you’re designing for fish restaurants, so you don’t want to overplay the sea metaphor. If all these burger places can look cool, why do fish and chips shop have to look like neon light and simple white tiles,” questions Nick.
While Nick thinks haddock is a more interesting fish, cod is the most popular item on the menu due to its subtle flavour. Nick’s favourite? ‘I really like the calamari. It’s really good. I like a fish finger butty too.’ And Saul? ‘He really likes the fennel and dill salad.’
Nick believes Brits love fish and chips because it makes them feel British, and as such have a romantic love towards it that other countries wouldn’t understand because it wasn’t part of their heritage. ‘We are saddened to see that it wasn’t being taken seriously so we kind of approached it with a passion to get everything right and get it as fresh as we can,’ Nick adds. ‘It’s always that obsession with trying to make it better and that’s what I think has made us successful.’
Words: Dani Segelbaum
59-61 Rosebery Avenue EC1R 4JD; 020 7833 4434; kerbisher.co.uk