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UPDATE DEC 2014: Since my last visit, Starfish has come under new ownership. And the good news? They now do gluten free EVERY NIGHT! I had a gluten free cod and chips from there recently and it was delicious. Crispy batter, perfectly crunchy chips - I can thoroughly recommend them!
When I posted this photo on social media last night, it caused a lot of excitement among the gluten free community. But possibly not as much excitement as it caused me when I discovered the new fish and chip shop in town, Starfish, was going to be offering gluten free options...every Tuesday.
Starfish, which unfortunately does not have a website I can link to, caused a lot of interest when it first appeared on The Square in Barnstaple, North Devon. This was no regular chippy, oh no. With its stylish interior and branding, including quotes from Oscar Wilde brandished across the wall, this was a step up for our sometimes a little backwards town. Starfish was clean and classy, something a little bit fresh, yet offering decent, English grub.
And so when one of the sales reps at my paper came rushing down with an advert stating Starfish would be offering gluten free nights on a Tuesday, well I was first in the queue. Braving the rain, I rushed down there and quizzed them on their offerings.
It would seem they have a whole range for both eat in and takeaway - and they keep a fryer separate to ensure that nothing is contaminated. I had a browse of the menu, and all the options marked with a cross below will be available from next Tuesday (Jan 21, 2014) gluten free:
Being a newbie on the fish and chip scene, I asked what I should go for, and opted in the end for a regular cod and chips - a good starting point - with some mushy peas on the side. I was also told Starfish have sourced gluten free burgers, and will be offering gluten free bread rolls that have been made in the town.
Dessert wise, there are two options on the restaurant menu - chocolate Sundae or pineapple fritters, though they are hoping to add another option. It seems they have really thought through what they can offer those with coeliac disease, and I think it's a move which will pay off in a fast-growing market.
After browsing through the menu my meal was ready and I hastily sped through the door, eager to get the wrapping off and see what surprises were in store. It was a pleasing sight - the portions were generous and it had just the right amount of salt. The fish looked golden and crispy, and the chips were that brilliant consistency where they're slightly crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
The fish itself was beautiful - a delicate flesh with a crispy, crunchy batter. Every bite was satisfying, and I really enjoyed my fish and chip experience. Unfortunately, the portions were so generous I only managed just over half of mine - even PT Steve was defeated three-quarters of the way through his portion - a rare sight!
If I'm honest, I don't think I'm the sort of person that will be visiting the chippy every week - after eating such a clean, unprocessed diet for so long (one of the benefits of having coeliac disease!) I find it hard to eat heavily processed foods such as this. However for a treat, this will be the perfect end to what's normally a busy deadline day. I can just see myself swinging by on the way home and grabbing something quick for those rare occasions where I simply cannot be bothered to cook.
If you miss fish and chips, you simply must get to Starfish. There is no excuse not to - their range is impressive and their knowledge is brilliant - get down there or miss out!