DISH DETECTIVE: A perfect mix of takeaway and simple restaurant dining

Mother Kelly's Fish and Chips, Southampton Road, Portsmouth
Mother Kelly's Fish and Chips, Southampton Road, Portsmouth
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The best restaurants are often the ones which do the simple things very well.  

In the age of celebrity chefs and swanky Michelin-starred eateries, it is easy to forget that sometimes the best food does not require vast amounts of preparation and has that distinct homely feel about it.

Fish and chips at Mother Kelly's

Fish and chips at Mother Kelly's

Mother Kelly’s has built up a reputation over nearly three decades for its fresh fish and chips, including at its two sites in Paulsgrove and Emsworth.

Unlike many takeaways of its kind, the Paulsgrove takeaway has an adjoining restaurant for those looking to dine in rather than trudge home and risk their food getting cold.

After a long day at work, the Dish Detective decided to take advantage of the restaurant’s close proximity to the office, and see what the fuss is all about.

The idea is simple - why rush home with your fish and chips supper, when you can relax and enjoy it in a restaurant setting, a matter of feet from the takeaway?

It’s target market is pretty clear. Even the menus depict a picture of a man suggesting to his wife that instead of the effort of cooking at home, why not go out for food instead?

When you first walk in to the restaurant section, you notice there is a funny juxtaposition to the place.

At first glance, it could be your typical mass-market American diner, but on the other hand the ambiance and smell of fresh fish cooking could almost make you think you are relaxing right next to the coast.

When I walk in I am quickly shown to a table near the window. The place is not that busy, but the customers already there give a good flavour of the clientele.

There's two sets of couples, who like the menu probably opted for the easy option of eating out, and there's a group of four catching up over coffee.

Forgive me for being unadventurous, but I opted for the large cod and chips with a can of Coca Cola.

At just over £12 for the meal, it's probably more expensive than you would expect to pay at your typical chippy.

But given that you can instantly sit down and enjoy your meal, it is a price that is easier to swallow.

Being a joint takeaway, there's a major advantage in that your food arrives quickly. 

Within two minutes of ordering, my meal and drink had been placed in front of me, not even enough time to peruse the menu and start regretting the decision.

So what can I tell you about the food? The cod certainly does not disappoint.

The idea of a 'large' cod may be subjective, but this meal was certainly enough to fill me up after a long day at work.

The fish had that perfect amount of crisp in the batter, where it was deliciously crunchy but still held together well rather than falling apart at first touch.

As the food would have come straight from the takeaway next door, it was still hot and didn't lose much of its heat as I ate.

The chips were slightly disappointing, less soft and flavoursome than your usual takeaway bundle - but it did not spoil a very pleasant meal out.

If you are looking for a tatsy and simple meal out that will not cost you the Earth, Mother Kelly's is the place to go.

Arguably its menu is fairly limited in terms of what meals it can serve – a few more options for mains would be useful, as well as choices of dessert.

But then again, if you're after a simple meal less choice is something to be celebrated rather than criticised.

Like I said, simple food done well. 

So if you're coming home from work, or get home and can't face the pots and pans, then head to Mother Kelly's for some great home-style food.