I recall many glorious post-school days spent in the Victoria Street cafe called Byzantium. It’s where we went to smoke cigarettes, drink crap coffee and generally think we were the coolest teenagers in the world.
Since then the premises have been through many changes including burning down when Khushi’s and resurrecting as a Festival pop-up beach bar called Bar Bados.
The latest incarnation is Bertie’s, a fish n chip restaurant from the team behind Vittoria, La Favorita and Divino Enoteca, amongst other places.
When I had a request to book a table for around a dozen diners – a party of Italian revellers including my friends Agnes and Massimo, who were visiting for the Six Nations rugby – Bertie’s seemed like a potentially very good fit.
After a beer and chinwag with Agnes in the nearby Bow Bar, we joined the rest of the party.
The place has been given a fresh refit with plentiful seating across a split-level dining area up the main stairs. We were seated at a long table on the upper level. Menus were on the table in the style of table mats.
The heart of the menu was the expected fish n chips but there was a decent selection both of other local favourites – haggis and the like – as well as seafood treats and chipshop staples.
We kept things fairly simple with a shared starter of mussels. Then one portion of haggis aside, we all ate fish n chip main courses. Most opted for cod while a few, including me, chose haddock.
The Shetland mussels were simply prepared and of very good quality. We mopped up the white wine, garlic and cream sauce with good rustic bread.
The main course fish was very good with crisp batter encasing moist white fish. The chips were plentiful and the accompanying tartare sauce suitably piquant.
The Italians very much the sticky toffee pudding to finish, also.
Overall, Bertie’s looks likely to fill a niche for those who fancy a hearty fish tea in the centre of town. This will include both a strong tourist crowd and locals mourning the loss of sit-in chipshop options such as The Tailend. It doesn’t rival The Fishmarket for quality but for convenience and large party dining, I think Bertie’s will do very well.
We ate: mussels, fish n chips, haggis, sticky toffee pudding,
We drank: white wine, red wine, water, sparkly water, coffees, espresso martini
We wore: big game build-up apparel
Total bill: £309 (12 diners)