There are many reasons to go to Brighton: the seaside, the fairground, the genuine cosmopolitan feel of a buzzing city. Add to that list a visit to the brilliantly named fish restaurant Fishy Fishy.
The best kept brasserie in Brighton, Fishy Fishy have built their reputation on fresh, locally sourced produce. Owners Paul Sholvin, James Ginzler and Dermot O’Leary gave birth to the restaurant two and a half years ago and have since opened another branch in Poole. Our advice to the people of Brighton and Poole? Go fish! Londoners keep your fingers crossed the boys will take a swim up the Thames soon. i-D online caught up with James Ginzler to talk about fish at large; the plates, the facts and the pet goldfish called “the goldfish”.
How did all of you meet? Through Alice, James’s wife and Dee, Dermot’s partner. Alice was friends with Paul and Dee in Manchester and over time we came to know each other. So without the girls, Fishy Fishy would not exist … which they keep reminding us of regularly!
Where did the idea come from to start a restaurant? Sitting around a dining table. We could never find a restaurant which covered everything we cared about, service, ambience and of course really good fish and seafood so decided to create Fishy Fishy and opened our first restaurant in Brighton around 2 ½ years ago.
How did you think of the name? It’s what we say when we’re deciding what to eat,“shall we have a bit of Fishy Fishy tonight?” It seemed a good idea at the time and now we get to say it a hundred times a day – people seem to like it.
Your staff are all very well tutored on their Fish, is this something you look for when hiring or are they sent away to Fish school? Like the idea of Fish School, it sounds like a Pixar movie …! We are constantly teaching our staff about the fish they serve and where it’s from and obviously they get to try all the dishes and suitable wine.
You have restaurants in Brighton and Poole are there plans for more Fishy Fishys? It honestly depends on the economy. We have been really lucky so far where many other places have failed. Initially we said we’d look to have four, but there are no definite plans.
Where do you source your fish? All the fish comes from either Brighton or Poole fishing fleets. Nothing comes into our kitchen without us knowing where it is from and how it was caught.
How is Fishy Fishy different to other Fish Restaurants? We pride ourselves on only providing local, fresh and seasonal fish and seafood and do our best to work alongside the local fishing community as closely as we can to ensure that the fish we serve is ethically sourced. We have cooks in the kitchen and from first thing in the morning you can smell food being prepared, whether it’s the sticky sauce, base for the fish soup or the chocolate brownies.
As one of the members of your team is in the public eye do you find this makes Fishy Fishy a bit of a Celeb hotspot? Brighton and Poole are pretty familiar with local celebs so seeing Dermot is something they are used to and he’s in quite a lot as he’s hands on. We get the occasional hen party walking past looking in on a Saturday night, when X Factor is on and we have to explain that he’s on the telly, not serving. Sometimes Dermot will send in mates to visit who are familiar faces but, whoever comes in is treated exactly the same.
What is the most popular fish? Apart from the fish and chips where we use various white fish, Seabass or Monkfish is up there too, as is the crab linguini although it’s not technically a fish.
Did you ever have a pet fish? If so, what was it called? We had one called “the goldfish” which my sister won at a fair. It lived for ten years with my parents … until they went on holiday and forgot to ask someone to feed it. Sad times.
What would you recommend a punter to try? I love oyster virgins… a customer who tries an oyster for the first time. It can go really well or really badly, but it’s always fun.
Tell me a fact about fish that people may not know… Cod eat more prawns in the North Atlantic than we catch!
Check out the Fishy Fishy cookbook here.
Text: Elgar Johnson