Shells, Strand­hill, Co Sligo

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - FOOD & DRINK IRELAND -

Pro­pri­etors: Myles Lam­berth and Jane Cham­bers Dish: Tra­di­tional Fish and Chips

On first glance, Shells may present as a bright, lovely and very funky 21st cen­tury ver­sion of a typ­i­cal sea­side café and that it is, es­pe­cially pop­u­lar with the lo­cal surf­ing con­tin­gent. While much of the menu wouldn’t look out of place in a sim­i­lar venue else­where, the more you dig down, the more you come to re­alise chef Myles’ culi­nary ethos is a rather more sin­gu­lar af­fair. For a start, the ‘tra­di­tional’ is some­thing of a mis­nomer, as Myles re­fuses to use cod for rea­sons of sus­tain­abil­ity, opt­ing in­stead for a mix of hake, had­dock and pan­ga­sius. He also re­fuses net caught fish, us­ing only line caught, from Gan­net Fish­mon­gers in Gal­way or from lo­cal in­di­vid­ual an­glers but, if left to his own de­vices, he wouldn’t serve fish at all, just shell­fish and sea­weed.

“A lot of places do fish and chips,” he says, “but they keep the bat­ter too thick. We use a re­ally thin bat­ter— which ru­ins our oil—but it gives an ex­cel­lent, crispy bat­ter. Peo­ple are al­ways telling us how good it is com­pared to other places. Those other places prob­a­bly change their oil ev­ery three or four days but be­cause our bat­ter ru­ins our oil, we have to change it ev­ery day but that is the sacri­fice we make. Our chips are Maris Pipers, triple cooked, start­ing at 150 ˚ C and then fin­ish­ing at a higher tem­per­a­ture, about 190 ˚ C. We serve it up with a nice lemon may­on­naise, made from scratch with fresh eggs.” Should you ever be so lucky as to sam­ple this dish at Shell’s, sit­ting on one of the outside tables on a sum­mer’s day, salty air fill­ing your nos­trils, sun beam­ing down, you may well be tempted to agree, this is the best fish and chips you have ever tasted.

Myles Lam­berth and Jane Cham­bers of Shells.

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