Earlier this month, a Golden Ticket fell through our letterbox inviting us to Simpsons Fish and Chip Shop in Cheltenham for their grand reopening, following a period of refurbishment. We were already super excited, having previously enjoyed a sneaky fish and chip supper or two from their takeaway, but just a few days before the relaunch, they were named Best Fish and Chips Takeaway in the UK. After such a fantastic achievement, we knew that their party was going to be a double celebration of epic proportions!
Arriving on a rather wet and windy Friday evening, we were rather glad to rush inside past the scores of people queuing for the award winning takeaway and enter the new restaurant. I can’t remember ever wanting to ‘eat in’ at a fish and chip shop before, or in fact in any takeaway really, but we were really taken aback as the owners James and Bonny Ritchie have more surpassed themselves with the transformation of their restaurant. There is a fabulous nautical mural along the back wall, industrial lighting galore, scaffolding tables, and a quirky and very apt “Long Live Fish and Chips” lightbox above the bar… I honestly wouldn’t mind moving in, provided they keep the food coming.
The whole evening was a pure delight; the food was outstandingly good, with treats including divine battered halloumi, crisp and flaky cod bites, battered pickles and, of course, chips galore! It’s easy to see why Simpsons is the best fish and chip shop in the UK, it’s so much more than the scrummy food; James was such a fantastically welcoming host, chatting away to us about the refurbishment, winning the competition, and, of course, what it was like cooking fish and chips for an exceptionally hungover Phil and Holly live on This Morning.
However, what struck me most was his passion for fish and chips, and how proud he was of what both he and Bonny have achieved together. This shines through in all aspects of the business, and is seen clearly in the most wonderful little book they have created to inspire and inform their youngest customers about where fish and chips comes from. The judges were also highly impressed with their attitude; commending them on their natural ingredients, monthly gluten-free evenings, and the traceability of the fish (you can even learn the name of who caught it!).
After over-indulging ourselves gastronomically, we were then treated to the dulcet tones of The Femmes; a retro inspired close harmony group whose performance fitted the bill perfectly, with their 1940’s style and musical twists on toe-tapping classic tunes.
The night was capped off with another local treat, a tub of Winstones Ice Cream which is another favourite of ours (check out our blog post on Winstones). Although I must admit to sneaking a final piece of halloumi after my ice cream – just because. Annoyingly we live on the wrong side of Cheltenham, but Simpsons is absolutely worth making the trip and we will certainly be back as often as we can to join the queue of lucky Cheltonians!