We speak to Luke and Amelia Brady from Brady’s Fish and Chips in Wandsworth, one of the finest fish and chip restaurants in London.
When did you set up Brady’s?
Luke: In 1989 on Old York Road, which makes it 24 years we were there.
Amelia: We’ve now done a year here [in the new premises].
How are you finding the new premises? Do you prefer it to the old one?
A: Oh Gosh, yeah. It’s harder work but streets ahead of the old place. The old place is like a hovel compared to this!
L: It’s a completely different ball game.
Why fish and chips?
A: Good question! We used to run a 10 bedroom country hotel in suffolk with a 50 seater restaurant with silver service and all the gubbins. We sold that and then one day Luke sat bolt upright in bed one morning and said “I know what we are going to do next, fish and chips!”, so I just said “Ok!”.
L: It’s timeless.
A: We didn’t have to worry about the laundry for the table cloths, we could just keep it as simple as possible. You didn’t have to have a hugely experienced Michelin starred chef or anything like that.
L: A lemon sole is a lemon sole. Fish and chips is fish and chips. You don’t want these things messed about with. We just like to keep it as simple as possible – just good simple fish and chips. Our chefs are not allowed to mess with any of our recipes.
So these are your recipes then?
A: We sat down at the kitchen table one night and thrashed them out. What would people like that is simple, quick to make but good old fashioned food that people really enjoy?
L: We’ve not really changed the pudding menu since we’ve opened, other than our specials.
A: And people come back for the apple crumbles and the treacle tart!
So is the menu we see here on the wall the same menu as when you opened?
L: Well those boards on the wall are the same format as when we opened.
A: Yes, they are from the old restaurant.
Have you got anything big or exciting planned for 2014?
A: We have our 25th birthday celebrations coming up – 25 years of trading.
Have you got a party planned?
A: Yes we have, the 14th, 15th and 16th of March.
What have you got planned?
L: On Friday we are having a wine tasting. About 6 wines. They’ll be about £12 or £13 to buy but we will allow people to drink them with their meal for a small corkage fee. For this quality of wines in other restaurants would be something like £40 so it’s quite good value.
A: Patrick (Luke’s Brother) will probably provide recommendations based on the wines and the menu.
L: And we would love to get some craft beers in if we can.
A: On the Saturday night we are going to have a jazz band. But they will to play some other music too so people can dance. On Sunday there will be more music and lots of oysters and mussels hopefully with the oyster man to demonstrate how to shuck an oyster.
Where do you get your fish from?
L: We get our cod, haddock and plaice from Grimsby direct. The lemon sole, dover sole, hake, skate, smoked haddock and scallops come direct up from Newlyn in Cornwall.
A: There is no middle man, we get it straight from the quay side so it’s fresher. We do a lot to make sure we can get our fish as fresh as we can. Because our menu is based around simplicity we always try and get really high quality ingredients. So for example, we just had our first Surf and Turf lunch on Sunday and we had the best steak we could get hold of. Rib eye, dry aged and all the rest.
You are always quite reasonably priced here, is that something you actively try and do?
L: Yes definitely. Take our wine menu. We have 15 wines on our menu and apart from 2 they are all under £20. We try and keep down the cost to our customer so they don’t get nasty surprises when the bill comes. We all know what it’s like when you go out for dinner with a group and when the bill comes you realise someone down the other end has been ordering really expensive wine. We try and avoid that. You can come and enjoy yourself without looking at your credit card bill thinking blimey!
You have a bar in your new venue, how are you adjusting to that?
A: Well the bar is really lovely and it overlooks the river.
L: Yes, but people don’t associate Brady’s with having a bar yet. They are only just getting used to the idea that you could come here for a drink as well as dinner
A: It’s starting to pick up, and we have a great selection of beers and spirits so once people try it they usually come back!
L: You often have pubs that become gastro pubs, but don’t often get restaurants that then develop to have a great bar. So it just takes a little bit of getting used to.
Brady’s will be celebrating their 25th year of trading over the 14th, 15th and 16th of March.