Hello Lovelies, how are we all today?
It’s time for another serving of Alphabet Soup, I hope you’re all hungry!
So if you didn’t catch the last ladle of Alphabet Soup, or if you’ve got no idea what I’m talking about (you’d be forgiven for forgetting, it has been a while since the first course – 4 months to be precise), I’ve got some explaining to do.
After living in Chester for 4 years, I’ve visited a variety of different independent restaurants, bars, cafes and coffee shops, and think I’ve finally cracked the best places to try. I thought it would be a good idea to talk about my favourite places to eat, for tourists, students and residents alike to enjoy just as much as me, and so after a quick brainstorm, Alphabet Soup was born!
Today I’m talking takeaways…
B is for Blackstocks
Moving away from home is a big step, not just because it’s away from friends, family and familiarity but because it’s an absolute sodding minefield trying to figure out where’s good to eat.
It might sound sad, but Blackstocks fish and chip restaurant has a bit of a special place in my heart. After moving here to read for my degree, and after getting over the worries about fending for myself in a new city, I quickly realised it was probably the best, most exciting thing I’d done with my life thus far. Of course the freedom of ‘doing what you want’ is exciting, but for me, it was nice being able to decide what I wanted for tea every night. I realise that makes me sound like a right loser, and I suppose I was in my first year, but if you listen to what I have to say, you’ll thank my loser ways later!
I found it a little bit exciting when in my first week of university, some new friends and I decided to skip going to the campus restaurant for our tea (the food we paid £112 a week for..) and headed into town looking for something good to eat.
We stumbled upon the newly opened Blackstocks because one of the guys was stood outside with a tray of delicious, freshly fried chips. Who can say no to that?!
Blackstocks is situated on Northgate Street, as part of the Forum Shopping Centre. I said in my previous Alphabet Soup post that it’s common for independent restaurants to be quite small because of high rent prices, Blackstocks seems to buck this trend, because it’s MASSIVE!
Walking in to the bright, airy shop you have plenty of space to sit and enjoy your fish supper, listening to music from the 60’s/70’s and 80’s and watching the world go by through it’s floor to ceiling glass-front shop window.
The first time we visited, the owner came upstairs (we sat on the mezzanine floor) to talk to us about his pride and joy, which was lovely. Although it was a few years ago now, I seem to recall him telling us about how he and his wife had invested an awful lot into opening Blackstocks, they were immensely proud of what they’d already achieved and hoped it would work out well for them.
It was clear to see the passion for the business and a drive to succeed, which I think is half the battle; if you don’t take pride/interest in your product, then how do you expect others to do the same?
Thankfully, 4 years later, Blackstocks seems to be going from strength to strength. It’s hardly surprising to be honest, Blackstocks offers something other fish and chip places can’t, the freshest fish, the best locally sourced ingredients and a clear passion for their produce.
If you have any interest in food, you may know there’s an ongoing fight for sustainable fishing. Hugh Fernley Whittingstall has done a few shows on Channel 4 about it, Jamie Oliver has been pretty vocal about it (no surprise) and Masterchef always have a nod to the sustainable fishing list on the end credits. Blackstocks also deem sustainable fishing important (as every good chippy should), only buying fish caught from certified sustainable sources and, where possible (which is most of the time), only using line-caught fish to minimise damage to the product.
It isn’t just the fish that receives special care and attention. The chips are freshly cut, the cooking oil changed regularly, the meat pies and sausages are sourced locally, with a minimum of 70% pork in the sausage and 100% chicken breast in the nuggets (it’s not all fish and chips you know), it’s a refreshing change to some of the de-frosted, days-old rubbish I’ve seen in other places.
As a result of this, the price of the fish and chips is a little more than its rivals (although I wouldn’t consider Chip O’Dee as competition, it’s altogether different kettle of fish..*cough*). The price for a small cod/haddock and chips is £5.95, regular is £7.85 and a large is £8.85. I must warn you though, you’ve got to be VERY hungry if you order a large fish and chips, because they don’t mess about with the portions, when they say large, they actually mean ‘half a shark’.
I made that mistake once and quickly realised I’d seriously over-faced myself, now I always order a regular and still struggle to finish everything!
It’s really good to see that Blackstocks seems to have done so well, it’s been a place I could continually rely on to make me a quality chippy tea while beavering away at University. What’s also really nice to see is the mixture of tourists and locals I see visiting on a daily basis, lured in, no doubt by the tempting tray of freshly fried chips the same way I was all those years ago.
So, whether you’re looking for a comforting classic after a long day at work, or a trusted favourite in an unfamiliar city, Blackstocks is without doubt, THE BEST chippy in town.
As always, if you do head to Blackstocks in the near future, be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Till next time,
P.s. If you missed the last serving of Alphabet Soup, catch up here!