“My eyes are still open, ain’t they?” says Jack Mills, pointing at his left one to prove he’s still very much alive, and therefore at work.
It’s 11.30am on a Monday morning, and I’ve told him I’d been worried that, it being Monday and all, the famous Traditional Fish Smokers café he runs on the seafront with wife Linda might be shut.
I order a hot kipper in a warm buttered roll (£3.80), and coffee. You can get all sorts of seafood, but kippers make the most sense. The herring are smoked in the little black hut opposite the entrance, having been caught by local boats in the sea beyond. They don’t come fresher than that…
I tell Linda, who pops both kippers and rolls in a folding grill, that I often go to Craster, where they claim to have invented kipper smoking. “Ours are better,” she says, without a pause.
I perch at the silver table outside, and within a couple of minutes she’s brought the food. “Mind out for seagulls, they’ll have it, if you’re not careful.”
I last had a kipper roll in Northumberland about two months ago, and she’s right, this one’s better. The toasted roll is crunchier, and the kipper meat is softer.
Jack tells me, as I go order another, that him and Linda have been running their little takeaway – in the Fishing Quarter arches near the Carousel – for 21 years. Before that, since just after the war, he used to work on the fishing boats. A man who knows his fish, then… long may his eyes stay open. [read more]
Kings Road Arches