We finally made it to Eric’s last week, arguably Norfolk’s finest chippery which opened last April. We were in the area anyway, staying at Cley Windmill for a mini-break and after a beach walk in Holkham with fresh air in our lungs and an ache in our bellies, we decided to visit the rumoured holy grail of chip shops. We’re pretty spoilt for choice here in Norfolk, with over 90 miles of stunning beaches not to mention neighbouring Suffolk’s shores too, the East coast is home to a plethora of chippies. You could say that I’m a semi-professional chip buff. I wouldn’t be offended.
Run by chef supremo, Eric Snaith from Titchwell Manor (another of my favourite hotspots in North Norfolk) Eric’s is based in a quietly stunning village called Thornham, over an hour from Norwich and over three hours from London but oh boy is it worth the drive.
The interior is contemporary canteen, inviting and spotless inside, not too dissimilar from the retro-chic style you’d find in a Shoreditch eatery. Beautiful shiny green, yellow, grey and black tiled walls.
Old school wooden chairs painted yellow, light bulbs hanging from kilner jars, a selection of chilled wine bottles in a cooler on the wooden counter and a handful of energetic young chaps running the show.
We were encouraged to help ourselves to distilled table water in thick glass bottles and to the homemade sauces: Eric’s seafood sauce; Buffalo – a tobacco based hot sauce made with buffalo milk; and Black garlic – squid ink, lime juice and aged garlic.
Most of the time I’m vegetarian but I do occasionally allow a piece of fish (or chips cooked in beef dripping) into my diet. Yes, I’m a bad vegetarian, it’s true. I’m weak. Today was one of those days. I went for a piece of line caught cod, mushy peas and chips. There were lots of other delights on the menu, some of which we vowed to try next time including:
- Halloumi and Spinach Arancini
- Battered Squid
- Half Pint Shell on Prawns
- Cod Fishcake
- Curried Haddock Fritter
- Pea and Ham Fritter
- Potato Fritter
- Black Pudding Fritter
- Battered Dingley Dell Sausage
- Battered Gherkin Baby gem salad cream
- IPA pickled onions
- Bread and butter
- Mushy peas
- Manor Made Ice Cream
- Banana or Pineapple Fritter
Frying is also available in rapeseed oil and gluten free! There’s also a children’s menu.
However, I had to simply try the traditional fish and chips in hope that they would knock my socks off. You can order take away but we decided to eat in and soak up the interior.
We were presented with a large plate brimming with deep-fried goodness.
However, I was a little worried when I noticed that the fish was brown and crispy. It’s usually the one thing I can’t abide – over-crispy or dark coloured batter. I don’t like the texture nor the taste. I prefer the batter light and the colour of wheat beer, not dark ale. Of course, this is a personal preference and every Brit has pre-determined ideas of how their fish and chips should taste and look.
But, when my fork revealed chunky pieces of succulent cod I had hope. And oh my, there was something different going on here. Hang on. This was the first time I’d enjoyed batter this dark. The flavour was pure poetry. Often beef dripping makes for a more flavoursome portion and is another factor to the hue of your cooked batter. I have had cod cooked in beef dripping many times before. But not like this. Not only was the batter extremely tasty but the fish was clearly fresh from the sea that day and a prime cut too – thick and moist flakes and a generous size. We didn’t manage to eat everything, although we gave it a good stab.
We had a generous portion of mushy peas and a shandy. Old school.
For a plate of cod and chips it cost £9.50. Expensive for your average chip shop, cheaper than a pub portion, and undoubtedly better quality than most.
Norfolk PE36 6LS