Sponsored by Upfield
Family-owned Fish City in Belfast won Seafish UK’s regional fish and chip restaurant award in 2015, and then in 2018 was voted the UK’s healthiest and most sustainable fish and chip restaurant and takeaway, again via Seafish.
Over the past few years the restaurant, owned by John and Grainne Lavery, has increased the range of seafood dishes on the menu to encourage customers to eat healthier, more nutritious food, or to at least aim for the recommended two portions of seafood a week, the health benefits of which are promoted throughout the restaurant.
The menu changes seasonally and the number of fish dishes certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has grown. For example, a recently added redfish species was promoted at a lower price to encourage customers to try it, with Fish City one of only a few restaurants in Northern Ireland to have it on the menu. A continual drive to source local and innovative ingredients that promote good health, such as pesto made from Islander kelp, is also contributing to the restaurant’s footfall.
The children’s menu, which offers a choice of healthy seafood dishes, encourages children to try different species. The team runs a free Fish City kids’ club, where primary schoolchildren are invited to learn more about sustainable seafood and the health benefits of eating fish, undertake a tour of the local fish market and hear from a local nutritionist about the different aspects of a healthy diet.
As well as all these initiatives, Fish City has been working closely with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to monitor the calories and nutritional content of the food it sells. It is the first independent business in Northern Ireland to be awarded the Calorie Wise certification by the FSA, with information on calorie counts offered to diners.
The award of the Health and Nutrition Catey to Fish City is well deserved and shows what fish and chip restaurants can achieve.
Judge Nicky Martin summed up: “It’s fantastic to see the nation’s favourite meal has been reformulated and packaged to align with health goals. Fish and chips may be perceived as unhealthy but, cooked correctly and portioned appropriately, it can be a perfectly balanced meal – as shown by Fish City.”
What the judges said
“Fish City has an innovative model that could be developed by other fish restaurants. Its commitment to sustainability, traceability and nutrition – and its encouragement for children to try the seafood menu – should be admired.”
“The Fish City kids’ club shone through, showing commitment to the future of fish as a source of nutrition. The restaurant’s consulting of a local nutritionist and its understanding of calories in food make it worth a visit.”
“It’s fantastic to see that the nation’s favourite meal has been reformulated and packaged to align with health goals.”
“I love the approach to taking a seemingly unhealthy option and creating a food that can improve health. The owners’ passion for sharing their knowledge is contagious.”
Fish City Belfast
Westminster Kingsway College London
Judith Gregory Senior client officer, education catering, City of Cardiff Council, director and regional chair of LACA
Craig Hancox General manager, Amadeus, the ICC Birmingham
Nicky Martin Head of nutrition, Compass Group UK and Ireland
Hayley Miller Head of marketing, CH&Co