Review: Bankers Fish & Chips, Western Road
Originally, I assumed Bankers was a small family-run business. However, after a bit of digging, I discovered although it is still very much family-run, The Chester Group Company (headed up by the Lipscomb family), has more than 40 chip shops in the UK.
The website leads you to believe Bakers itself was set up by the family, but it was in fact originally set up sometime between 1997 and 1998 by Andreas Sparsis. Andreas currently owns the Fish Factory and the Fat Greek in Worthing and when he originally opened the chip shop it was one of the first to offer matzo/matza (Jewish batter). The current owners then leased it from him.
The Lipscombes themselves began frying fish back in the 1920s, setting up shop in Romford in London and three generations later, growing the business to more locations – including Bankers, now in central Brighton, Hove & Hangleton.
The Brighton branch sits on Western Road, just opposite Norfolk Square and offers both eat-in and takeaway fish and chips.
It was lunchtime when I popped in and the seated area of the restaurant was half full with OAPs. My guess is they were there for the “Senior Citizens Special” where a regular cod, chips, mushy peas and a cup of tea/coffee is the bargain price of £5.95.
Taking a seat and looking over the menu my eagle eye quickly spotted the hallmarks of gorgeous Art Deco design, a nod to the decade where it all started.
The menu was huge and usually, that’s a red flag because it indicates the restaurant is trying to please everyone, but often in doing so, does everything unexceptionally.
I decided to keep an open mind and weighed up the prawn cocktail with a homemade Marie Rose sauce, avocado and malt bread vs the king prawns cooked in garlic butter. As is often my trouble, I wanted both, plus several other options.
Unable to make up my mind, our waitress suggested we share a fish platter £10.95, enabling us to try several of the starters.
Following her advice, a huge oval plate came out in no time at all and we tucked into tender rings of calamari encased in a light crispy golden batter, succulent cod goujons, scampi bites encased in breadcrumbs, and cockles covered in a crispy batter.
On the side was a beautiful lemon and dill sauce, made on the premises along with two decent wedges of lemon. It was delicious start and more than enough for us both to tuck into.
For mains, there were all the usual suspects on the menu – Haddock, Cod, Plaice, Battered Sausages, Fish Cakes and Scampi.
For those who aren’t big on batter it’s worth noting that all of the fish can be grilled or, cooked in breadcrumbs.
If you’re someone who likes pies, as opposed to fish at the chippy, you can order an oven-baked pukka pie if you are ordering to-go or a homemade fish pie if you’re dining in. However, if you’re after pies, I would always suggest going to Wolfies of Hove for that – they are unrivalled in that department.
Tempting, as all the main courses were it was the fish special – £11.95, on a board by the kitchen, that caught my eye. On the day this was a baked sea bream, stuffed with lemon and fresh parsley, alongside a huge plate of salad and chips. The fish was firm and flaky, brilliant white indicating it was clearly fresh.
Chips-wise there were two choices, chunky white potatoes or skinny sweet potatoes (for 50p more). The latter being ideal if you want a lighter lunch and need a vitamin c boost!
The white chunky chips were fluffy inside with a crispy-dry outer shell and not trace of grease, whereas the sweet potatoes were slightly softer with a deliciously sweet and creamy flavour.
If you’re anything like me and curious about the ingredients used in the food you eat – you’ll be interested to discover that Bankers uses three varieties of British tatty to make their chippies.
Maris Piper (which stores great and fries well), Markies (which fry best of all) or Challengers (best for French fries).
My guess is depending on how the harvest goes and whether blight takes hold of a crop there’s a rotation on the variety of spud.
And all the potatoes come from British farms, which Bankers has worked with closely for over 20 years.
Rating: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a Miss
I have no complaint with the classic battered fish and chips but it’s the specials that make this spot stand out for me. It’s not going to win any awards for atmospheric dining or its wine list but it is a great local chippy – whether you eat in or take out – and anything that supports British farm gets the thumbs up from me.
N.B. I have a whole blog post coming on my thoughts and position on independents vs. chains. I’m just doing a bit of research on it as it, as transpires it’s not as black and white as we would all like it to be.
Need to Know
All Bankers fish comes from MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) sustainable sources and its chicken is barn reared and fully compliant with the Red Tractor Farm Assurance Poultry scheme.
The senior citizen special is available Monday-Thursday, 11:30am – 4pm.
Bankers Fish & Chips
116A Western Road, Hove, Brighton BN1 2AB
*Disclosure – Bankers invited me to review but with or without an invite I will always tell you what I honestly think.
Now you’ve read what I think, what’s your opinion. Who does the best fish and chips in Brighton? Leave me a comment below and tell me.