Opening an independent restaurant is always going to be an act of bravery, especially in the current economic climate. But opening a high-end seafood and Champagne restaurant? Some might say it’s plain foolhardy.
Yet this is what husband-and-wife team Stuart (CEO) and Kanyana (executive chef) did last September, in Harrogate, launching Fisk on Cold Bath Road – a fashionable quarter which has seen its fair share of independent eateries come and go.
Kanyana, the daughter of chefs in her native Bangkok, has been carving a reputation in her adopted Harrogate creating menus for special events, shoots, holiday letting companies and private dinners. She regularly chefs for the Harrogate Club, including a monthly event pairing wines with courses, and this idea is modified for Fisk, which offers a “Flight of Pol Roger” (£27), a glass of three Pol Roger Champagnes with any three courses.
Here she has created a menu that aims to combine the best of East and West, with sustainable fish and shellfish at its heart, offering bold, modern dishes with twists of influences from throughout the world (Fisk is the Scandinavian word for fish).
There are bold plans for Fisk, which is planning a second branch in well-heeled Prestbury.My dining partner and I decided to try Fisk one weekday evening, early doors. We knew that it was small (20 covers) and that bookings have to be made and confirmed at least 24 hours before dining. At weekends, Fisk offers two sittings in the evenings, the first starting at 6pm and the second at 8pm. Early doors diners are warned to be prompt.
The restaurant is certainly small, but with an expensive, thought-out feel. Granite walls and large mirrors plus floor-to-ceiling windows give a surprisingly roomy atmosphere, with views across the street (of Olivers fish and chip shop). The black tables are also spacious with no sense of being cramped. The most prominent feature is the chic Pol Roger Champagne Bar with four stools for those who like to quaff their champers in elevated style, or dine from the a la carte menu sitting there.
Champagne is definitely a speciality, specifically Pol Roger, Churchill’s favourite tipple. A bottle of the 2004 Prestige Cuvee created in tribute to him costs £250. The basic Brut Reserve is a more modest £59 (£109 for a magnum).
We were greeted in a friendly and welcoming manner by the manager and two young female waiting staff, who were immediately eager to take our coats – a concern I have sympathy with; coats do look untidy in a small room, as I note whenever my relatives come round.
Fisk undoubtedly has Champagne prices. The speciality seafood kicks off with oysters from £3 to £5 each, a Langoustine starter costs £16 and the cheapest starter, Vegetable Tempura, is £7.
If you’re really splashing out, you can share a Grand Fruits of the Sea dish of grilled fish, wild king prawn, whole lobster and squid (plus two sides), £65.
We decided to forgo Champagne and instead ordered a reasonably priced bottle of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc Reserva Antano (£22). Along came a pair of prawn lollipops as a complimentary taster – succulent and absolutely delicious, described so even by my partner (who doesn’t like prawns).
For starters, my partner had Tori Kara Age Japanese Chicken (£8), a substantial, delicately cooked dish with tempura style high quality chicken and an excellent salad.
I had Cod Tikka, Mango Salad (£10). The cod was lightly spiced and beautifully cooked. I could have done without quite so much sliced mango, as an accompaniment. The sauce was like tartare meets raita, beautifully light and delicate.
My partner’s main was Spicy Fillet of Beef Thai Salad (£19), again with delicious, expertly cooked and spiced quality meat and a superb, tangy salad (although he did feel there should be a little more of it, or something else, for the price).
I had Monkfish Massaman Curry (£19), which I can only describe as incredible. The generous chunks of monkfish were meaty and succulent in a sauce so deliciously fragrant, I would love to be able to recreate it.
The desserts were less successful for us. My companion had Mango, Sweet Sticky Rice, Ice Cream, Coconut Milk, Mung Bean (£7), which was heavy, just mango puree over a wodge of rice with vanilla ice cream. My Banana Poached in Coconut Cream with Pistachios (£7) was an unappealing chunk of banana in a watery, slightly coconut-flavoured sauce.
The total bill, including two digestifs – Graham’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port (£6) and Baileys (£4) – came to £115, with VAT and an optional service charge of £10.50. The first two courses and those prawn lollipops justified the price for me, but I suggest the desserts are rethought, certainly before opening a new branch.
FISK, HARROGATE Address: 61 Cold Bath Road, Harrogate HG2 0NL
Tel: 01423 564634
Opening times: Mon-Fri, noon – 3pm, 6-11pm; Sat-Sun noon-11pm