What can you tell us about Gilly's?
Simply put, it's a new fish and chip restaurant in Finsbury Park. But at the same time, it's a lot more than that. Coming from the same people behind the very popular Season Kitchen, also in Finsbury Park, this adds a lot more to the whole package than you'd usually see in your local chippy. And it also just happens to be our local chippy.
So what's so different about it?
There's a significant Asian influence to the menu, from the raw dishes, to the tempura battered main event (with soy sauce for dipping). And you get the choice of chopsticks or knife and fork (if you're not feeling dextrous).
Where is it?
It's tucked away in the street behind Finsbury Park station. So you can be at a table here mere minutes after your tube or train gets in.
Where should we meet for a drink first?
There are a growing number of very interesting places opening in the Finsbury Park area, but we'll winnow this down to just two. Firstly, and closest, there's Oak. It's a relatively new wine bar and wine shop that has become a personal haunt of ours in recent months. Highly recommended for charcuterie and a good, curated choice of bottles.
And we're also fans of nearby Walnut - which has a truncated cocktail list as well as a decently priced wine list.
Where should we sit?
It's not huge, so wherever you're told (or fancy if there are a few spaces free). Although we rather liked the tables by the window. And there are some higher stools/tables which are ideal if you're just popping in for a quick snack on your own.
So - that menu, what's on it?
It's something that they're continuing to evolve, and one that's also dependant on that week's fish deliveries. But you can expect a mix of raw dishes, tempura battered fish and veg and plenty of extras.
And what should we order?
Most dishes are priced around the £5 mark, so you'll really want to roam around the menu as much as you can afford. And it's similar to Bao in that you tick the dishes you're after on a chit, before handing it in.
Plates will come out as they're ready, so we recommend ordering the raw dishes first, then going on to order all the fried goodness. And note that they're more tapas-sized as opposed to a big fry-up, so you'll want to order accordingly.
Our particular favourites on the night:
- Both the seabass ceviche (£7) and chopped salmon sashimi (£7.5) dishes were excellent, particularly the latter which is mixed with cucumber, finely chopped ginger, shredded shiso leaf, and dressed with a miso and ginger vinegarette.
- The chips with curry sauce (£4). Despite being a staple of the fast food spots of our youth we've only just started getting into these. And god, these are VERY good curry chips.
- The tempura hake (£6). One of the best fish dishes we've had in a while. We honestly debated just continually re-ordering this dish all night.
- Tempura aubergine (£5) - because, aubergine.
But frankly, we barely scratched the surface of the menu and plan to return to make our way through all of the fried section...
How about dessert?
Be warned - you'll want to leave a bit of space for these. Sadly the ice cream sandwich wasn't on when we visited, but the deep fried Celebrations were (£3). And frankly, who wouldn't want a teeny battered and fried mini Mars bar?
Do also try the mini doughnuts (£4) but eat them carefully - the custard explodes in your mouth.
Will there be takeaway too?
There will be takeaway soon, so keep an eye out for it. And delivery too, but expect that to stick to the more traditional fish and chips elements of the menu.
And how about drink?
On the wine front, there's a single option per drink (white, red, rose etc), which ranges from £18 a bottle for the house to £60 for a bottle of Ruinart Champagne, to really pimp up that visit to the chippy. And we were also fans of the "Don't be Koi" sharing punch (£10) - with rum, shiso, lime, lychee and apple.
It's a local and we'll definitely be back, no question. But mixed together with some great nearby bars, its closeness to Finsbury Park station and a damned fine menu, we think this one's worth travelling to. We're just very happy that it's so close to us. Sorry (not sorry).
Hot Dinners were invited to Gilly's. Prices are correct at the time of writing.
What: GIlly's Fry Bar
Where: 4A Clifton Terrace, London N4 3JP