First Plaice: We Visit Britain’s Best Independent Fish and Chip Restaurant

Pete Fraser, owner of the Harbour Lights in Falmouth
Pete Fraser, owner of the Harbour Lights in Falmouth | © Culture Trip

Food & Drink Editor

With its sustainable approach to sourcing fish and warm welcoming atmosphere, it’s no wonder Harbour Lights in Falmouth has been voted best Independent Fish and Chip Restaurant of the Year 2017.


There’s something special about eating fish and chips while looking at the sea. Harbour Lights offers just such a view, and this, along with its forward-thinking menu and sustainable approach has seen it crowned Independent Fish and Chip Restaurant of the Year 2017 at this year’s National Fish and Chip Awards in London.

It’s been a long 17-year voyage for owner Pete Fraser. After 19 years service in the Royal Navy, where he hunted Russian submarines from a Sea King helicopter, he longed to have his own business. ‘I did an Open University MBA, and the homework was really hard, so in order to get our heads round it, we opened the local paper and decided to buy a business. It could have been a taxi company or a hairdressers, but there on the page was the Harbour Lights. In those days it was like a works canteen thick with smoke, there was even a fruit machine. The only thing going for it, was the view.’

The inside of Harbour Lights

Since then the interior has been through three iterations, and is clean, bright and modern, the waiters nip about taking orders on iPads which are sent through to the kitchen. ‘These are my favourite recent additions,’ says Pete, pointing to two spotlights on the ceiling. ‘I want to start a comedy club and compere it, and the wife said “Pete, you’re not funny,” but I really want to do it!’ Pete readily admits he’s not a chef, ‘there are some real fish and chip connoisseurs out there, so to win this award is really something. This is a really friendly industry’.

Sustainability

A key part of Pete’s business is sustainability. In 2005, he began asking his suppliers about fish stocks, ‘I was worried I was selling the last haddock in the ocean, but there was no one to talk to.’ He found the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a global independent non-profit organisation which sets a standard for sustainable fishing, who offered advice and support. ‘Ten years ago we took the decision that 100% of our fish served would be responsibly sourced,’ says Pete. Also, Harbour Lights not only sells MSC-certified haddock and cod, but also locally caught Cornish hake, mackerel and pollock, with all the fish coming from local fish merchant Matthew Stevens, who delivers it daily.

There’s the option of having your fish grilled, as well as swapping out some of the chips for a fresh salad. Or keep it traditional with mushy peas

Healthy eating

As well as the traditional batter coating, there’s also the option to have it grilled, rather than deep fried. Not only that, you can also swap the chips for a salad, or ‘half and half’. And being a fully licensed restaurant means there’s a choice of wines or local ales to enjoy with your fish supper. On the evening Culture Trip visit, the place is packed with families, young couples on dates, pensioners, all enjoying a classic British dish.

Why the British love fish and chips

You could say fish and chips is the closest thing we have in Britain to soul food. It’s enjoyed the length and breadth of these isles, from Falmouth to Fife. When you think about it, where else can you get freshly cooked, natural food for under a tenner? The beauty of fish and chips is that there’s nowhere to hide, you can’t muck about with sauces and reductions and cheffy techniques. Its simplicity, freshness and value are part of its charm. To borrow from Woody Allen: fish and chips is like sex, even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. As Pete says, ‘It’s not just for the belly, it’s for the mind, and what never ceases to amaze me is just how much pleasure to people a good plate of fish and chips can be.’

1. Harbour Lights Fish and Chip Restaurant

Fish and Chip Shop, Restaurant, Seafood

Harbour Lights Restaurant, Falmouth

.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article