diamond geezer

 Friday, December 06, 2013

If you're in touch with London, you'll know dining out is where it's at. Fine food and good company, optimally priced, are the cornerstone of many a good evening. So I'm pleased to be able to follow the trend and bring you news and reviews of top cuisine, and restaurants to die for.

Uncle Jim's Fish Bar ✮✮✮
27 Balaam Street
Plaistow, E13 8EB

You'll find Uncle Jim's on Balaam Street, Plaistow's premier gourmet boulevard. A welcoming blue gateway awaits your attention, just down the parade from Fancy Fried Chicken and the Good Friends Chinese Takeaway, UJ's has been embedded at the heart of the E13 community for many years, and is fast becoming Mecca for the East End's fried fish fanciers.

The restaurant's window proudly promotes the current à la carte menu, with signature Doner Kebabs in pride of place. A wide variety of these delicacies are available within, along with a variety of alternative dishes depicted with french fries, salad and light garnish. As the sign says, 'tasty'!

It's all in the name. Uncle Jim's has been a family concern from the beginning, although the eponymous proprietor was absent on the day of my review. Instead two jolly Turkish gentlemen, later joined by a third, stood behind the bespoke glass counter to prepare the high class meal of my choice.

My eyes alighted on the specials menu displayed to the rear. The burger selection was appealingly priced, including quarter pounder with cheese topped with sesame-sprinkled bap for less than three pounds. Meanwhile an octet of chicken nuggets vied for attention with moist barbecue wings amongst the chicken collection.

I considered briefly the selection of wrapped Peter's pies upturned upon the hotplate. That or the pair of twisted saveloys sweating softly in the compartment alongside, or maybe a composite kebab meal from the numbered four-choice set menu. But when at UJ's always dine like a local, hence fresh fish was destined to be my catch of the day.

By now the queue of patrons was growing longer, indeed some might argue a reservation to be advisable. Mums and couples and single gentlemen had arrived in their evening finery, mostly market-stall outerwear, and chatted loudly but politely whilst waiting their turn.

"I don't do cooking, I do fish and chips," muttered one Irish workman to his companion, neatly echoing the culinary aspirations of a generation. Instead he opted for the trademark twisting stick, and watched as thin slices of spitting meat were carved elegantly into a plastic tray.

When my turn came the waiter reached for a prime fillet of cod, battered and golden beneath the artificial glare. But chips large, or chips small? ...it's tough decisions like these that make dining at Uncle Jim's such a joy. Why large, of course, and soon three scoops of chipped potatoes dropped lovingly into a paper cone.

Naturally I added salt and vinegar, the latter issued from a tray of condiments including a bijou bottle of Daddies ketchup. And then my catch was expertly parcelled in paper before being swapped for the better half of a ten pound note. No need to tip, you'll be pleased to hear - impeccable service is included.

It was with great expectations that I unwrapped my prize onto an oven-warmed plate, ripped open a can of soft drink and tucked in. No complaints. The cod was succulent and light, its white flakes breaking away cleanly within a coating of batter. And all of this laid across a warm carpet of fried potato, surely cuisine at its finest.

Forget your Michelin cordon bleu, your exclusive Mayfair brasserie and your pop-up Mexican cantina. London's media are obsessed by reviewing poncey expensive dining options, the sort of thing most of us try once in a blue moon or never at all. No, to experience what the majority of the capital eats just head to Plaistow, or a high street near you, and see what's frying up.

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