Monday, 11 November 2013

Barnaby's Fish and Chip Restaurant, Stratford-upon-Avon

This is not an establishment designed for comfort or leisurely enjoyment of a meal. Think of it as a kind of Ryanair of fish and chip places - it is a lot more expensive than you think and you need to be alert to add ons. Ask for sauces and you are directed to a display of condiment sachets and charged for the privilege. This is a place made to shift large groups of people, very, very quickly. Queue, serve, pay, eat, out. No debit cards are accepted, which I suspect has less to do with the bank charges imposed upon the business and more to do with cash being quicker. Service is perfunctory; staff are not there to wait on you but to clear the tables quickly when you leave.

The whole layout of the place is akin to that of the seaside chippy, all shining tiles and formica, tables and chairs bolted to the floor, with an ice cream franchise and pictures of fish on the walls. There are tables and chairs outside, the cheap aluminium stuff. Access inside and out is impossible. Of course it is - wheelchairs are far too slow. There is a step up into the place and the seating plan means that the aisles are too narrow to negotiate and the fixed furniture means you cannot create a through route by shifting some chairs. Your best bet, if mobility is limited, is to look through the doors to the right. There is a table for four flush against the right hand window where a wheelchair can be placed on the end of the table. The outside area is no good either. The tables and chairs have been crammed onto a raised platform, and, assuming you could negotiate that step, there is simply not enough room to manoeuvre.

It is not the best fish and chips in Stratford, but by no means the worst. The cod is not substantial as the portions tend to be covered with a thick layer of batter. It is quite tasty and with a satisfying gravelly crunch. The chips are very thick cut, not always crispy, but golden brown and fluffy on the inside. Hot, too. And by that I mean not snatch-and-swallow hot but hoohoohoohoohoo hot.

The best option is to eschew the restaurant altogether and opt for the takeaway if you are not put off by the queue - or send Drew. Find a spot on the Bancroft Gardens and eat there. There is not a lot that can beat sitting on a bench together eating too-hot, salty chips with the ever present threat of rain, the drifts of pungent wet leaves, the sting of cold mucky river water in your nostrils, and fat, greedy animals vying for your attention.*

*And that's just the kids. The geese are a pain in the bum, too

Access: *****