The last time I visited Sutton & Sons was 6 years and 227 days ago, back in 2008. It was a very memorable experience. It was full of excitement, the unknown, hunger, nervousness, stress and a few emotional tears. My sister had begun having contractions with her first child. Not sure how we ended up out for dinner. Or how my poor best friend had been dragged along to witness my sister telling me each time she had a contraction and having me note it down, while the reality hit my brother-in-law of imminent fatherhood and tears of excitement filled his eyes. But there we were in Suttons & Sons just ‘leisurely’ hanging out and having dinner. As you can imagine, I can’t remember what I had but I do remember that I would definitely return, albeit 6 years later.
Quite fittingly, but purely by accident, we returned this Mother’s Day. My sister had run the North London half marathon that morning (yep, super mum) and wasn’t sure if she would be up to join us. So my Mama and I had booked to go to The Beagle.
Finishing in a good time and filled with adrenaline, my sister felt she was deserving of a double celebration and would join us with her family. Obviously this last minute change meant it was impossible to change the booking or find somewhere that could take 6 people. Trying to find somewhere was becoming nearly as stressful (but clearly not at the same level) as that night back in 2008. I had sent a text to my sister just saying that we needed to go to Sutton & Sons soon and then I thought I’d give them a try. We were in luck as they could accommodate us.
Sutton & Sons is one of the many ‘posh’ fish and chip shops that have popped up over the years. It’s unique selling point is that its fish is supplied by its father, Sutton and Sons Fishmonger just across the road*. You’ll find the classics of a chippie, the battered cod and battered sausages, in their heated glass display waiting to be tucked into. Then to the left, you have the wonderful fresh fish exhibited in its own cool display cabinet screaming out to be ordered. So as you can imagine, from this mix of old school meets new school chippie, you get more than your standard battered cod or haddock. You can get oysters, black coley, lobster sub and even samphire as a side!!! There are also a few homemade items knocked up by Mrs Sutton such as the sticky toffee pudding and pickled onions.
I was wrong in thinking that it wouldn’t be that busy on Mother’s Day but all 5 benches that take up to 6 people, and another bench taking 10, were all taken when I arrived and a long queue was also forming for takeaways. Oh, and there are also a few window seats where you can watch the people of Stoke Newington go by.
The kidlets ordered sausage and chips while the adults checked out the menu, and my Mama made herself at home by putting her cards on display…up on the wall!! Yes, she really did!
I suggested to my niece to have battered sausage and chips as I secretly wanted a bite. Battered sausage reminds me of my childhood when my sister and I would pass by the fish and chip shop after our swimming lesson. I would always get battered sausage and chips for the journey home (ahem – it was only one stop on the train!). I remember the cold air hitting the wrapped food as we stepped out of the shop, and the steam escaping and smell of all that vinegar I had doused it in filling the air. I told my niece this little memory of mine – she was sticking to her sausage with no batter.
My brother-in-law and I went for oysters to start. I can’t not order oysters if they are on a menu.
These gigantic oysters were meaty and actually mighty tasty for their size. My Mama went for mussels and my sister the cromer crab on toast. I asked my sister how her crab was but I think by this stage the adrenaline rush was far behind her and that wall was right in front of her. She said, ‘it was good’. Mama’s pot of moules mariniere was massive for a starter. The kidlets had finished their food and she was still trying to get to the bottom of the pot. My Mama enjoyed it but thought it had great flavour due to the good amount of garlic used. She wasn’t blown away by the sauce..
For mains I went old school and was the only unhealthy one (and the one doing it right) by going for a classic – well, battered monkfish and chips. I actually did not give anyone the chance to try to monkfish until there was only about a third left. The monkfish was firm as it should be and cooked to perfection, even coated in the crisp batter that was just the right thickness. It didn’t overshadow the fish. Monkfish can give out a lot of water when cooked and the trick is to salt it to draw out the water before cooking and then pat it dry with a kitchen towel. I suspect this is what had been done as there was not one bit of that batter that was soggy. It was light, crispy, crunchy and perfectly caramel in colour.
The other adults went with the mackerel. The mackerel came whole, head and tail included, so this is not one for you to order if you aren’t one for seeing what your fish looks like or can’t be deal with bones. Originally both my Mama and I had opted for the battered skate but it was off the menu that day. Everyone thought it was fresh and well seasoned but my Mama said next time she would definitely want to try the skate. My sister and brother-in – law loved it and talked about cooking more mackerel at home.
We got a few sides – Mrs Sutton’s pickled onions, which I thought at first were whole garlic cloves as I didn’t hear them being ordered, and some humongous gherkins. You must get the pickled onions – they were divine, sweet and hit the spot. I could so sit on the couch and happily eat a bowl. Clearly only if I had no plans to go out that evening, and maybe the morning after too.
The chips – let’s just say after my nephew finished his full plate of sausages and chips he then proceeded to scoff the extra bowl that was for the table to share. Yes, kids will eat chips without any complaints but my nephew would also be the first to reject chips if they weren’t up to scratch. One thing I did miss having were the chip scraps which would be a nice touch to add.
When asked we were all sure we were not going to have desserts, then … someone shouted out we should try one of Mrs Sutton’s sticky toffee puddings….then someone said they had never had a deep fried mars bars…this was quickly followed by, ‘We’ll have 2 sticky toffee puddings, a deep fried mars and deep fried snickers…to share.’
I have never been a fan of sticky toffee pudding but I am now!! Mrs Sutton had added walnuts to hers and it worked fantastically with her light sponge and toffee sauce that was sweet but not sickly sweet.
There was silence for the first time during the meal after a few people had said that they were not going to have any of the deep fried snickers. Man ALIVE!!! I think everyone should be making this! The caramel oozed out and then you were hit with a big bad crunch from the nuts – YESSSSS!! I wanted more but now we were all joining my sister at that wall. I left one spoon of sticky toffee pudding on the plate and ran out to the cash point (they don’t accept cards) 5 doors down and by the time I got back…the second picture above says it all – DEVOURED. Everyone said it was the kidlets and it probably was going by these pictures.
I think you can tell by reading this that Sutton and Sons did not fail me. I failed them in not having returned for 6 years but that won’t happen again. You might find me at their pop up in Box Park at lunchtime and then slumped under my desk at work.
*If you live or hang around Stoke Newington a lot, you’ll have the pleasure of probably passing Mr. Sutton many a time along Stoke Newington High Street and being graced with a great warming smile and a hello.