Brian Monteith: I'm craving a fish supper after May's dog's dinner

It was quite refreshing last week to find something to write about that was not one of the two dominant issues of the last five years. Occasionally something happens that allows me to write about education or health or transport and such like '“ but invariably there is a dimension to the story that involves Scottish independence or Brexit, or both!

Wednesday, 12th December 2018, 5:00 am
Staff in Bertie's Restaurant & Bar in Victoria Street. Picture: Ian Rutherford

So after last week, when I wrote about silent discos being not so silent as ­residents might like, I thought I would try and find something different to ­follow up with.

In one of those previous weeks when I’ve needed a non-political topic, writing about my love of Edinburgh’s fish and chips – with our city’s famed chippy sauce – has provided a ­solution. Lo and behold I thought I had beaten the challenge with this week’s opening of Bertie’s, the ­massive new chippy in Victoria Street.

Sadly, I have to confess I have failed. After the events in the House of Commons, I cannot let the failure of the Prime Minister to put her withdrawal agreement to a vote pass without ­comment. Nevertheless, I shall not miss out on leavening my offering by first cheering on this great culinary venture.

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It pleases me to see this new offering from the Crolla family come to ­fruition and I will be making a beeline there at the ­earliest opportunity. Ironically, I was ­actually having a curry at the old Khushi’s, that occupied the main hall of the former John’s Church, on the night in 2008 when it caught fire.

There were lots of jokes that evening about the heat of the ­curries as we stood on the street outside watching the fire tenders arrive, but it was a serious enough fire to close the restaurant for good.

I have eaten fish and chips across the whole of the UK and I believe we are blessed in Scotland because our fish of choice is haddock, which is far tastier than cod. Then we have the good sense to completely fillet it and skin it. I can still remember the time I bought a fish ­supper in London for the first time only to find one side of the fish still had its skin on and on another occasion it even had the bones in too!

Then in Edinburgh we have the choice of “salt and sauce” rather than the more usual salt and vinegar – taking our fish and chips up to a higher level.

I know curry sauce has made an entrance in the last decade, but that’s really just pandering to the ubiquitous hunger for curry flavours – just like Berliners love to serve their street ­sausage in curry. Brown sauce, ­haddock fried in a golden crispy batter and freshly fried chips will undoubtedly remain the signature dish of Edinburgh take-aways.

With such a big sit-in restaurant, it’s only right that Bertie’s will be offering all sorts of new variations on the ­classic fish and chips menu to entice customers in – but the key for me will be that I can get some bread and ­butter and a pot of industrial strength tea, just like my mum would serve it up at home.

Having a high tea of fish and chips is what I need right now to ­console myself after one of the ­lowest moments for democracy in recent years.

After around 140 MPs had spoken in three days of debate, the Prime Minister ran away from having a vote – to go to Brussels and try and get some cosmetic concession, that we now know she told EU bosses about before she told her own Cabinet.

We need a new Prime Minister with a new government as surely as chippy sauce goes with a fish supper.