Review: Eric’s Fish & Chips, Thornham

Sharing plates (photo: Root Social)

Sharing plates (photo: Root Social) - Credit: Root Social

Fancy fish and chips? Rowan Mantell finds Eric’s in Thornham is both fancy and fabulous

Outside Eric's (photo: Root Social)

Outside Eric's (photo: Root Social) - Credit: Root Social

How do you like your fish and chips? I’ve decided I love mine with amazing batter, melt-in-the-mouth squid, super-friendly staff, and washed down with cider from an on-site orchard and after overcoming some mild seaside peril. At Eric’s Fish and Chips at Thornham we got all of the above and more (deep fried Mars Bar anyone?)

This is the seaside-chic son of Eric Snaith’s Titchwell Manor restaurant. The fine-dining hotel, where Eric is head chef, is just a couple of miles away along the coast road, and there are plenty of posher-than-average touches to his fish and chip restaurant and takeaway – not least the wine list that accompanies the ketchup and vinegar on the tables.

The café itself is set in a thriving orchard in the ridiculously pretty Thornham, in a small just-out-of-village cluster of shops, including a farm shop, fishmonger, restaurant in a yurt, luxury lodges. Visitors can wander among the apple trees, before choosing a bottle of Drove Orchard cider, created from those very apples, to accompany their meal. It was some of the best I’ve tasted – so light, dry and sparkling it was positively prosecco-ish.

The cafe has outside picnic tables front and back; inside is a spacious modern dining room with green and white tiled walls, a polished concrete floor, lines of tables with vibrant green and yellow plastic stools and chairs, and bright, quirky lighting in big glass balls and jars.

Eric's Fish and Chips (photo: Rowan Mantell)

Eric's Fish and Chips (photo: Rowan Mantell) - Credit: Archant

It’s all very clean and fresh – which could not exactly be said of us, having taken an unorthodox low-tide beach route along the sea bed and through marshes and creeks. On our way back we were pleased to find the beautifully mown path through roadside meadows to the centre of Thornham – and a little free outdoor gym on the village playing fields where the resistance level to most of the equipment seemed to be set at about my resistance level to posh fish’n’chips.

At Eric’s we were greeted by friendly, cheerful staff and set about choosing from menus on the tables and on boards on the wall. A notice even tells you what potatoes they are frying that day. I was hooked by the haddock and chips with a side of arancini, Howard went for battered squid, black pudding fritter and mushy peas with his chips. The haddock was excellent, a sizeable succulent fish in crispy beer batter and cooked in beef dripping (just ask if you’d like your chips etc fried in rapeseed oil or something gluten-free instead.) I had to ask what arancini was, and on learning it was battered balls of spinach, gruyère and rice, I had to try it. It was amazing – gooey on the inside, crispy on the outside, bursting with flavour. I think the beer batter here might be the best I’ve ever had, the perfect texture and taste, wonderful with fish and squid and apparently excellent with black pudding and Mars Bar too (separately, obviously). I was too busy stealing squid rings to tackle them or to try the tempting-sounding black forest cookie sandwich.

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Instead I finished with two scoops of ice cream – choosing baked apple and cereal milk (I had to ask what this is too, and it is a kind of condensed milk flavour) for their unusualness, and enjoying them for their deliciousness.

Unless you are lucky enough to live in Thornham (and even then don’t go via the beach and creeks) a visit to Eric’s Fish and Chip Restaurant is not exactly a quick visit to the local chippy. But it’s highly recommended and the vibe manages to be both modern and retro, chic and relaxed, stylish and completely satisfying.

Arancini balls (photo: Roots Social)

Arancini balls (photo: Roots Social) - Credit: Roots Social

What to pay

From the eat-in menu:

• Beer battered haddock and chips £11.

• Arancini £6.50.

• Battered squid £6.50.

• Black pudding fritter £2.50.

• Mushy peas £2.

• Chips £3.

A children’s menu is also available.

Eric’s Fish and Chips, Drove Orchards, Thornham Road, Thornham. PE36 6LS. 01485 525886. Open daily noon-9pm.