We took a trip out of Cornwall into Devon the other weekend and spent the night in Barnstaple, where we found, in my humble opinion, what may just be the best fish and chips in the south west.
Since moving to Cornwall about eight years ago, fish and chips have become a staple part of our diets. If you find the right place, the fish is fresh, the batter light, the chips fluffy and the price affordable, and there’s nothing better than sitting on a bench overlooking the beach with paper wrapped fish and chips to eat. In Perranporth there’s a great place to pick them up – Browns, by far the best in town. But on our trip to Barnstaple we stumbled across something on another level all together.
We found Squires, in Braunton – just a few miles outside of Barnstaple, quite by accident. We were staying the night in our van, it was dark, we needed some food and just happened to drive past. There’s a double fronted sit down restaurant, and take away next door, both of which are bright, clean and very welcoming. And on this particular Saturday night, whilst we thought it was busy – there’s two floors of seating that were about three quarters full – I overheard someone else commenting on it being quiet.
The place is family owned, with the front of house run by her and the kitchens run by him. The service was great, attentive, relaxed but eager to please, and it seemed to be packed full of regulars – everyone from tweed clad country types drinking fizz, through to older couples ordering pots of tea and bread and butter, before jumping on the bus home (there are bus stops conveniently located just outside).
The menu is handsome, with straightforward fish and chips (haddock, cod and plaice), alongside more extravagant dishes such as salmon and prawn thermidor. There are ‘lite’ options, with poached and grilled fish, attention to detail to gluten free recipes and even a vegetarian menu with Quorn dishes. Whilst the main theme is fish, there are other very worthy contenders. It feels almost criminal, but we didn’t actual opt for fish and chips – I was desperate for a bit of green stuff (and ordered the chicken Caesar salad) and he was tempted by a burger. Both of which came in at about the £7-8 and were well worth the money – huge, freshly cooked, tasty portions.
The other thing I loved about this place was it’s drinks menu – there’s your staple soft drinks and hot beverages, but there’s also a fully stocked bar. Having as I do a thirst for wine, I ordered a glass of Merlot not expecting the world, but was really impressed by what turned up. It was served in a very nice glass and was a well rounded drop at about £5. Lovely.
And we’re obviously not the only people to love this place (in fact it looks as though we’re pretty late onto the scene – it’s been run by the same family since 1969) – the menu is punctuated with recommendations from the likes of Damian Hirst, Rick Stein and John Major.
If you’re in the area you should definitely go. And if you’re not in the area? I’d recommend a detour.
Squires Fish and Chip Restaurant
1 Exeter Road | Braunton | Devon | EX33 2JL | Tel: 01271 815533