A local couple from Ballynahinch are behind an innovative new fish and chip restaurant and takeaway serving healthy options in Belfast city centre.
No ‘ordinary’ fish and chip restaurant, with a focus on the importance of healthy eating and sustainability, family-run Fish City opened late last summer at 33 Ann Street and has already celebrated a plethora of awards, including a Quality Award from the National Federation of Fish Friers.
The business was also named amongst the Top Two in the UK for Healthy Eating Award, as well as Top Three for the Good Catch – Sustainable Seafish Award, by Seafish UK.
Owners John and Grainne Lavery are passionate about supporting local businesses, serving up the finest produce Northern Ireland has to offer.
They believe in full disclosure resulting in their achievement of being the first restaurant in Northern Ireland to provide calorie and nutritional information on their extensive menu, as well as full traceability for a fully sustainable menu.
Employing 22 members of staff, from chefs to potato peelers and front of house, the couple believe strongly in offering healthy options for those wanting to eat out whilst adhering to a calorie controlled diet.
“We believe firmly in making food from scratch, and cater our menu to all tastes and appetites.
“People assume that just because we are a fish and chip restaurant we don’t have healthy, light options. But we set out to change that assumption with Fish City.”
It is also the policy of Fish City to visit and speak directly to local producers to gain an understanding of their business and processes to ensure they meet the high-quality standards they require, right down to the ice cream and the Bramley apples used in their desserts.
John, who begins his day every morning at 4am creating the batter from scratch, explained: “Great care is taken in making our own batter, ensuring a light and tasty covering.
“We strive for perfection in the cooking of every portion, everything is homemade, from our tartar sauce to our mushy peas and sauces.
“Our oil is changed daily, and our chips are made on the premises cut to measure 14mm x 17mm, which is scientifically proven to be the healthiest size, absorbing the least amount of oil when frying.”
The current menu includes a Lite Bite section, and most meals are available as half portions to promote sustainability.
Meanwhile, the couple are set to launch a new menu at the beginning of March, which aims to provide even more health-conscious options for those on a calorie restricted diet.
With all of the dishes on the menu made from scratch and cooked to order, the ingredients used are completely transparent, so there are no ‘hidden calories.’
In addition to current lighter options which include fish tacos, fishcakes, red fish, hake and sweet potato fries instead of chips, the menu will also boast new seasonal, fresh options.
The couple added: “The choices and new menu options are exciting, as not only have we vegetarian, beef and chicken options, the fish will always take centre stage. We have choices including cod or haddock in pea puree with steamed broccoli, MSC hake with paprika and Moroccan salad, grilled salmon in lemon beurre blanc, or smoked salmon on gluten free blinis coated in homemade tartar dip.”
Wife Grainne, who can be seen at front of house, helps greet and serve customers in the customer led restaurant.
“Customers are at the heart of our business. We opened at the heart of the tourism season, so we have been extremely busy from the moment we opened our doors.
“When we first opened there was a huge demand for menus to be available in different languages, because it was the height of tourism season.
“One of our many success stories was when we had our menus translated into different languages, supporting our tourism industry.
“Another is the introduction of our children’s portion sizes and the 100g servings of fish as a ‘light bite’ which has become a lunchtime favourite.”
John and Grainne added that they are not only conscious of supporting local food producers, but ensuring that Fish City supports local businesses in other ways with conference room facilities available and free wifi for businesses who wish to host meetings.
Fish City is set to officially launch its new menu from Wednesday March 1, with renowned guest speaker Professor Christoper Elliot of Global Food Safety, Queen’s University, Belfast set to speak at an event held in their restaurant for food experts and media focusing on the importance of sustainability.
Alongside the new health-conscious menu, there is a wide range of gluten free options available every day, with a focus on ‘Gluten Free Wednesday’ for customers.
To find out more, visit fish-city.com.