Bertie’s Proper Fish & Chips
We’re heading into winter now, and it was a wee bit ‘bertie’ (cold) when we visited Bertie’s restaurant & bar for Friday night ‘proper fish & chips’. Opening last year, a massive £3M investment from the Vittoria Group transformed the former St. John’s church on Victoria Street into an enormous restaurant, spread out over three floors and seating 300. The building had lain dormant for a decade following a serious fire in the previous occupant’s restaurant, Khushi’s Indian.
From India to Italy…Italians have a long history of running chip shops in Scotland, so it may come as no surprise to learn that the ‘Bertie’ in question is in fact Alberto Crolla, founder of the Vittoria Group, a family-run Edinburgh-based restaurant business who also own the likes of La Favorita and Taste of Italy. Bertie is grandfather to staff who work there today and family portraits grace one wall of the restaurant. Cartoons from the former Edinburgh Evening News cartoonist Frank Boyle surround the open staircase between the two main restaurant floors and there are quirky references to seafood and fishermen around the two rooms. You can tell that serious money has gone into making the restaurant ‘ship-shape’.
We were seated near the busy kitchen, watching staff in constant motion wearing t-shirts with cheeky slogans such as ‘Fry me to the moon’, ‘Come fry with me’, ‘Show me your mussels’ and
‘Get salt and saucy’. At your table you’ll also find a bottle of ‘Edinburgh chippy sauce’; it’s clear the emphasis here is on fun. The cocktail menu continues the theme with an Irn-Bru Spritz (Irn- Bru, Prosecco, Aperol and Angostura) and a Buckfast Bramble (Tanqueray gin and Buckfast). We opted for Bertie’s signature cocktail – Johnny Walker black whisky, vanilla and cream soda. Quite possibly the first time we’ve had cream soda and whisky together, but it works. And why not, given the well-known vanilla quality of American oak bourbon barrels. Our other cocktail choice was the Cotton Candy martini (Smirnoff vodka, cranberry and lemon, candy floss) which looked the part, like a cloud floating on the glass, and surprisingly not overly sweet.
For starters we shared fish tacos: full of fresh flavour from the tomato salsa, guacamole, and red pepper with spicy cajun cod, alongside a black pudding Scotch egg, mixed with pork sausage meat, coated in breadcrumbs and then deep fried to deliciousness.
The barometer of any good chippy is how well do they do a simple fish supper, so a battered haddock was ordered up, with twice cooked chips and tartare sauce. Sides were mushy peas and bread & butter, which came in big, fluffy slices. The portion of fish & chips was massive, and the fish itself was chunky and flaky with a good crisp batter. We couldn’t finish it, so had to take a doggy bag home.
Bertie’s ‘Fritto’ was our other main course, comprising 2 battered cod bites, 2 breaded haddock goujons, 3 Whitby scampi and 6 squid rings, served with chips again – so another mountain of food. Incidentally, the fish is MSC- certified and therefore sustainable. The board on the wall even tells you which boat caught it. The variety of potato being used to make the chips is listed here too.
Michelin-star chef Tom Kerridge was recently in the news for saying that £32.50 was ‘easily justifiable’ for fish & chips, but at Bertie’s the cost is a modest £11.95 for a portion three times the size!
Despite being fit to burst we were cajoled into sharing a dessert. Well, why not when it’s a deep fried Mars bar? A melty delight with sticky nougat, Mr Whippy ice cream and raspberry sauce. Although looked upon as a bit of a joke, it actually does taste pretty damn good. A Snickers version is also available, and if you can handle it they have a sharing dessert platter for £11.50. They also have dessert cocktails and we hear that more Buckfast cocktails will be added to the menu soon.
So, simply put, Bertie’s was fantastic! What else can we say? They have vegan and gluten- free options, you can order a takeaway at the entrance, there’s disabled access via a lift. They do
10% NHS staff discounts. And, often overlooked when people pick a dining spot, we heard staff speaking French and Italian with customers should you prefer to converse in your mother tongue. Booking recommended at weekends.
Bertie’s Proper Fish & Chips, 9 Victoria Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2HE
Massive main courses
10% NHS staff discount