MARKS and Spencer’s controversial new fish and chips pie hit the shelves this week — so The Bolton News took a sample along to a traditional chippy for the ultimate taste test. Neil Robertson reports
THIS is not just any old fish and chips.
This is M&S fish and chips — and it comes not wrapped in newspaper but shortcrust pastry.
The supermarket has taken Britain’s favourite dish — ripped up the recipe book — and brought shoppers the world’s first fish and chips pie.
The all-butter pastry pie contains minted pea puree, chunks of cod, a bechamel tartar sauce and is topped off with a layer of chips.
Part of the store’s “Gastropub range”, the pie costs £3.50, contains 531 calories and takes 35 minutes to cook in the oven.
But does it cut the mustard as an alternative to the humble chippy tea?
At Olympus Fish and Chip Restaurant, manager Tasos Pattichis ran the rule over the pie.
He said: “I think the fish and chips pie is a wonderful idea — very simple, very unique. I never would have imagined fish and chips coming together in this form.
“In terms of how the pie tastes, I wouldn’t say it’s brilliant, but it’s acceptable. It’s hard to compare the two, but fish and chips has an edge, because the taste of the fish comes out more than in the pie and it’s much healthier, because it has fewer additives than the pie.
“The pie tastes more like a fish pie — the taste of the chips doesn’t come out very much. Maybe it would work better if the chips were inside the pie, rather than on top.
“For me, the pie doesn’t have a wow factor, but it was a different and good experience.”
Olympus chef Tanya Craven added: “I think it’s nice, but it’s lacking the batter. It’s not got that distinctive fish and chips taste. It’s a clever idea and I think it will sell, but I still think proper fish and chips will be more popular.”
Grant Bramwell, store manager of the M&S in Bolton, said: “Fish and Chips is a well-loved British tradition and this unique take on the classic dish combines those favourite flavours that everyone loves. The pie is already a big hit with our staff and customers since its launch on Tuesday and we are certain that it will fast become a firm favourite.”
OUR reporter Neil Robertson gives his view on the new fish and chips pie
Traditional fish, chips and mushy peas — 9/10
THIS dish only loses one mark because I’m not a fan of mushy peas. I’m often very fussy about fish and chips and analyse each meal right down to the most minute detail —
but this dish hits all the right notes.
The batter is crisp, giving the fish a fresh, steamed taste. The fish itself is perfect and the chips were neither too greasy nor too crunchy.
Fish and chips pie — 5/10
AS a pie in its own right, this dish is passable. But as a direct substitute for fish and chips, it doesn’t work.
It tastes more like a fish pie than a fish and chips pie, because the chips are almost undetectable.
The taste could be stronger — it is not immediately obvious that this product is trying to replicate a fish and chips supper.
However, the tartar sauce and peas inside the pie are a nice touch and they provide a rich flavour to what is an otherwise bland meal.
But while I chose the good old-fashioned fish and chips supper, this should not put people off the concept of the fish and chips pie.
As a product, it ticks all the boxes of clever advertising. It’s unique, it’s brave and it’s got everybody talking.