Wednesday, 16 May 2012
Tony's Fish Bar (aka Mario's), 6 Southway, Eccles, Salford
I confess. I never used to be a chippy kind of girl. I always dismissed them as bland, greasy and not the most comfortable dining experience. Fancy standing up in the street eating out of paper, for goodness' sake! Not to mention the fat, grease and the fact it goes against my commitment to spicy, exotic cuisine. They say your tastebuds change as you get older, and as I'm about to enter my 4th decade, mine have decided to become a bit more welcoming to good old English grub. Maybe it's my time in Dubai that's done it to me and the five years I spent living in Berlin's Turkish community, the onset of spice fatigue. Or maybe it's seeing all these other cultures and watching how in touch they are with their own traditions, it's become high time for me to explore mine.
Eccles is a quaint, old fashioned town in Greater Manchester, often overlooked by foodies in favour of its cosmopolitan neighbour central Manchester or its new, up and coming competitor Salford Quays. However, if it's good honest grub you're after, Eccles is a safe bet. After wandering through and absorbing its old-fashioned charm, I spotted the kind of establishment that's becoming a rarity since the advent of healthy eating, kebab culture and identikit Ikea furniture. Tony's Fish Bar. Nestled under an equally retro-looking Indian (which is definitely on the to-do list too), Tony's fish bar is known locally as Mario's, which apparently was its former name and has stuck. A bit like us Liverpudlians calling Home Bargains 'Home and Bargain' as that's what it used to be called on the Mersey, dear fans of useless trivia! Furnished with cosy booth-style seating which probably hasn't changed since back in the day, I was instantly overwhelmed with a sense of nostalgia, a refuge in a world populated with Costa Coffee and its ilk.
The menu is standard chippy fare with some dishes that would be considered old fashioned, like Spanish Omelettes, and calorie-laden fry ups and pie dinners. Far from selling paninis and wraps, this place goes back to basics with filled barms- and they are much loved for it. No chorizo or halloumi cheese here. I ordered a plate of chips with curry sauce as you can see above, which came in at £1.90.
The chips were chunky, fresh and not a slither of grease upon them, the curry sauce being perfect for a discerning Vindaloo Queen. It appeared to be home made with some evidence of peppers in- kudos to Tony's! The staff were friendly and I was greeted with a warm smile despite appearing like an obvious newbie- this place definitely has its fan base of regulars, everyone seemed to know each other.
Tony's is like a time-capsule. In today's modern age of hideous commercialism and the attitudes of people only being seen where it's 'cool', this place, like much of Eccles, is a breath of fresh air. If you've got a hankering for the good old days and for a calorific belly-buster of a dinner, this is your place.
Ultimately, I could never decide between foreign and English grub though. The world's a big place full of fascinating customs and cuisines. I'm just enjoying the culinary ride- I'm having my Victoria Sponge and eating it!