Catch 22 Review | Battered & Blogged
As a rule, I don’t tend to read the views of the food critics when it comes to new openings, but the claim by The Bristol Post that Catch 22 served “The Best Fish and Chips Ever!" was too deafening to ignore.
With a playful nautical theme somewhere between Spongebob Squarepants and Loch Fyne, a lot of money has clearly been thrown at the Bristol restaurants interior and securement of a prime location opposite College Green. Opened back in 2015, Catch 22 had previously seen a number of local food critics invited for free meals in return for feedback.
It was a gesture that paid off for the owners of the restaurant, with many of those critics who took advantage of the complimentary meals (and the most expensive dishes) writing lovely comments about the place within hours of their free night out.
We visited to investigate the big claims.
First noticed was the oval plates. An oddly satisfying culinary statement. Ergonomically speaking, they gives you good access. Some say F1 steering wheels were modelled after oval plates.
I also ordered a pot of mushy peas to complete the picture. Mushy peas were actually created when fishermen got fed-up with whole peas rolling around their plate in rough seas*.
When the fisherman had weathered the storm and reached their exotic location, they would swap their catch for local produce, often for local spices that they could take back with them. Thus, curry sauce also became part of the traditional British meal.**
**Also a lie
The large cod was quite the catch. You can really ruin a nice bit of fish like that in a number of ways. But this was really nicely cooked, big white flakes that didn’t crumble apart. The batter was even, and crunchy all over without being greasy. Nice big air pockets from light batter the secret - and it tasted as good as it looked.
Boil em, mash em, stick em in a stew
The chips, uniformly sized and again managing not to be greasy. Not like that sleazeball Mr Chips from Catchphrase. Evenly cooked, a few crispy bits to keep the purists happy. The large plate proved to be an ample vessel and I couldn't finish them all. I guess they’re not extortionate to produce. As cost effective as they can be. Really affordable potato-based foodstuff. As keenly priced as a starch snack dare present itself. That is exactly how I would describe the chips and in no other way whatsoever.
We also sampled the calamari main, which came in the form of long strips rather than rings. I must admit, I rather like the thin ringed approach - with crispy batter and a good squeeze of lemon. This was not that, but the calimari flesh itself was pleasant and had the right springy texture. We ate it all if that’s any indication (It is). Again, there was a lot of it - probably the best value calimari dish in Central Bristol (and I’ve debated that long and hard).
Catch 22 is definitely worth a visit if you are after a large portion of tradition. I’d also recommend taking a seat in the restaurant to enjoy your very own oval plate. The menu caters for some more adventurous tastes with dishes such as a Halloumi and Orange salad available, but when the fish is that good there’s little reason to deviate. Classic fish and chips, and yes, one of the best in Bristol.
Editor's note: We were invited to try the menu for a reduced cost but this did not affect the outcome of the review.