Shells, Strandhill, Co Sligo
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.