Fish and chips at the seaside is one of those quintessentially British meals, no matter the weather. Our last visit to Hythe in Kent was a bit of a blustery one but it didn’t dampen our appetite: we drove along the seafront, up Princes Parade to Seabrook Road, home to the Chameleon Cafe.
It’s in an odd spot with its large windows overlooking the delights of a BP petrol station, and an outdoor seating area beside the car wash. The sea is ridiculously close, just not visible from any part of the cafe as it’s behind a wall with the beach sloping down out of sight.
The inside makes up for its somewhat drab location, though, with its metal chairs in various shades of blue and pink, and the framed food photography on one wall nods to the place’s nature.
You see, the Chameleon Cafe isn’t just a regular seaside cafe. During the day you can expect breakfast and lunch menus that are, for the most part, pretty standard. Look closer, though, and you’ll spot a chicken tikka wrap and a couple of curries, and the Indian food photos on the walls will start to make more sense.
In the evenings, the cafe menu gives way to an Indian tapas menu, which is served Tuesday to Saturday and has been very well reviewed.
Vowing to return and give it a go sometime, we started with a latte each (£3.50) while waiting for our food to be cooked. They arrived incredibly quickly, looked very uniform and didn’t completely fill the latte glasses which suggested to me that they were a “press a button” job rather than being made from scratch. Nevertheless, my coffee was hot, wet and caffeinated and came with a Lotus biscuit, which was appreciated by the child.
Now, we’ve eaten a huge number of fish and chip meals this summer, and the price point here (£10.95) was on a par with others we’ve tried. It came with mushy peas as standard (although garden peas are available if you ask), and it was refreshing to see it arrive with a small, dressed side salad on the plate, as well as a decent wedge of lemon.
The thick-cut chips were great, lovely and crispy and a massive portion. I was impressed with the crunch of the golden batter, but felt that the fish itself was a little mushy, sadly, despite having a good flavour. Top marks for presentation, though, and I was very tempted to steal that beautiful plate.
While I can’t say it’s the best fish and chips I’ve ever had, it was ok. I wouldn’t necessarily rush back for lunch, but I’d definitely give the evening Indian street food offering at the Chameleon Cafe a go.