A brief (and unsuccesful) foray into being a food blogger.


It is a truth universally acknowledged that fine dining and small children don’t mix. Something about terrible tantrums fundamentally ruins the opportunity to pay outrageous amounts of money for locally sourced pickled bullocks bollocks on tiny squares of fermented quinoa. So, for the last 10 years, the closest I have been to a Michelin star is replacing the tyre on the expensive buggy that we just had to have. I vaguely remember gastro-pubs being in, though I suspect they have been replaced by pop-ups (whatever that means) staffed by surly men with tattoos and beards who look like extras from a Tom Hardy series.

That said, we do occasionally want to eat out, our excursions to restaurants are normally linked to mark some event, birthdays, end of term, Daddy has had enough of cooking and needs to get out the house etc. They are normally overhyped, badly planned and poorly timed, leading to terrible behaviour, particularly by me.

We are geographically restricted in our choices, because driving somewhere to eat out requires a level of planning quite beyond me. We live in Epsom, which for those of you who don’t know is a medium sized town just inside the M25, that could be any medium sized town just inside the M25. Its outstanding features are a well whose water makes you shit like a racehorse and a track where you can watch racehorses shit. The town itself is run on a strict shift system: between 8am and 6pm it is restricted to people under the age of 15 and over the age of 40, who are then replaced by young people from 6 till midnight. What these young people are hoping to find here is beyond me. A small compensation for my lack of nocturnal social life is knowing that other people are wasting theirs looking for something fun to do in Epsom.

Since we live in a small town inside the M25, our food choices come down to Nandos, which smells of burnt chicken due to poor extractor fan placement, Curries (too hot Daddy), Pizza Express, but only when there’s a deal on (though this is essentially always), and fish and chips. We are spoiled for fish and chip based punnery: the Codfather, the Plaice to eat, Friar Tuck’s, Oh my Cod and Fischoteque. We mostly plump for the Plaice to Eat, firstly because it’s closest but mainly because it’s the only one that actually exists in Epsom, the rest are lifted straight from the lazy blogger's filler of choice – the internet.

The restaurant has a vague nautical theme, slightly let down by the enormous telly on the back wall. This telly only adds complications to an already tricky seating negotiation, which is not dissimilar to the problem with the fox, the goose and the corn – my son can only sit next to my wife but only if he is not facing the telly or too close to the toilet and one seat away from my daughter etc. Bearing in mind this is usually taking place in the context of a rolling argument about putting shoes on in a timely fashion and not needing every teddy bear, or even one teddy bear to come to supper with us and no I don’t love you any less just because I don’t think big bear is a real person.

Having finally sat down, wiped away the tears and said sorry (but not really meaning it) you get an amuse bouche, a bit of an exaggeration but this being a food review felt like the right term, of bread and pickles. The pickles themselves are a thing of joy – golf ball sized onions and fluorescent gherkins. The starter is also the perfect opportunity to get the children slightly too full before even starting the meal. It also delays the inevitable heated discussion about whether or not anyone can have a fizzy drink and how it is unfair that Daddy gets three beers, when they can only have one lemonade.

The Plaice to Eat offers a fairly binary menu, fish with chips or not-fish with chips. There are subdivisions within fish between different similar looking white fish, but these only tend to confuse. I once caused considerable family scandal by opting for lamb chops. A foodie feat that in our, somewhat limited, experience is only matched by my attempting to eat a 72oz steak in Texas whilst driving solo across America in what can best be described as straight road induced mania. Unsurprisingly, I failed to eat the steak (and piece of bread, plate of fries and prawn cocktail), because it was less a steak, more an entire Cow’s backside on a plate. The restaurant did very kindly give me the leftovers in a doggy bag which I immediately dumped in a garage bin and swore off meat for a month.

Apart from my reckless lamb chop dalliance, we stick with the fish option. There’s lots of it and it fulfils expectations: it’s hot, yellow on the outside, white in the middle and tastes like fish, the chips are for want of a better wordy chippy. To be honest, most things taste good if you cover them in ketchup, vinegar, salt and tartare sauce: though in our new ocean-conscious age, I would suggest they move towards bottles of sauce rather than disposable plastics. Of course, given we as a populous are eating our way to the end of all fish, maybe it doesn’t matter.

All told, a good meal, and whilst a review of a local fish and chip shop may seem parochial, I suspect more people reading this will go to a local fish shop than the next big thing in a city they live 300 miles from, which is only open for 3 weeks and only bookable if you know the secret handshake. None of which is possible with two children. Who insisted I end with a clever play on words that the Plaice to eat is the Place to eat – which is as good a way to end as any other, and certainly less pretentious than looping back to a Jane Austen book that I haven’t read, but quoted to look clever.