Fish and Comfort


This is a strange place. A few metres from my house is the second most recognisable icon in the world, the big, yellow ‘M’. Which rather puts one off visiting the little complex of restaurants – using the word loosely – with huge drive-ins which form a small local compound. Which is a shame, really, since there’s an undiscovered little jewel on the first floor. Normally, I don’t do fish. Too much poking around with a fork, separating the flesh from the myriads of spindly little bones which have a tendency to get stuck in sensitive parts of the soft palate. But, this was a find. Decor was minimalist and uncluttered, the artwork serenely abstract, which I liked. I inspected the fish laid out on a slab over ice with an air of knowledge. Huge green lobster sat next to brown, scaly crab, grouper, snapper, prawn and sea bass. I gazed into their eyes, trying to remember what I had been told about fish eyes and freshness and inspected scales and tails, as if I had the first idea of what to look for. As far as I could tell, the slab was a mortuary and the only thing they all had in common was that they had all shuffled off their mortal coils in the comparatively recent past. Having chosen what I was reliably informed was sea bass from the frozen counter, a few minutes later it arrived au naturel, grilled in butter and garlic, on large, white plates, with a remarkably good clam fettucine and green salad. Foodies who read this will no doubt turn up their educated noses, but, well, I rather enjoyed it. The place inexplicably declined to serve either dessert or coffee, which I have to say I found a little curious. I think it’s good for people sometimes  – or perhaps me – to find themselves a little outside their comfort zone, like in a fish restaurant, insofar as it’s a fair test of their coping strategies and inner defences.
My table overlooked quite a good painting and my fish was the top one on the left.

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