You have to like to try new things if you live as an expat, new foods, new experiences, new ways of doing things. When I first immigrated to the Canary Islands I tried everything, but, there are times when papas arrugadas and mojo just don’t fit the bill, and a craving for the familiar, especially the comfort foods you remember from childhood is just too tempting.
When that mood comes over me, the place I head for is Scampi’s Chippie in Los Cristianos. It’s true that in almost all of the resort areas in south Tenerife, from Los Gigantes to Golf del Sur you can find British food especially in Playa de las Americas, but even El Médano, which remains firmly more international in character than the modern resorts, has a lone, English bar. For a British ex-pat to single out a place, therefore, in this plethora of English food, means that it stands out from the average.
In twenty-five years in Tenerife, I’ve seen businesses come and go, change hands, improve, deteriorate and it’s clear that you have to be good to survive. Scampi’s is not just good, it’s terrific! It’s been in the same spot in the Compostela Beach complex since 1994 – almost twenty years, it’s a firm favourite with local, British residents.
Their batter is crisp; their fish succulent and plentiful; their mushy peas moist and flavoursome, and their chips, unfailingly, that perfect combination of slightly crispy outside and yet light and tasty inside. In other words, everything a fish ‘n’ chip dinner should be. Plus, they usually have those soft, floury baps, which are so perfect for making chip butties.
Not only that, but the service is unerringly cheerful. I don’t go nearly as often as I would like on account of my personal battle of the bulge, but the staff always greet me as it they know me, which is nice.
I don’t doubt that one of the reasons for its success is that it’s family business, begun by owners, John and Shirley, who brought son, Chris, into the business a few years back. But the appeal also lies in the family’s philosophy and approach to their business, everything is cooked to order, so no soggy batter or wilted chips. John claims that they do nothing special, “We only do what everybody ought to do,” he says … and therein lies the secret, creating a dish as near perfect as each serving can be, even though it’s a traditional dish to us, Brits, and even though it’s a procedure performed again and again during the course of a day.
The staple dishes are the traditional chippie delights, including meat & potato pie, steak & kidney pie, and scallops as well as three types of fish and the aforementioned, glorious chips. They’ve listened to demand, and expanded the menu in the last twelve months to include chops and steaks, which John proudly told me have been more than favourably compared by regulars to those in posh restaurants.
All this, and only one minute from Las Vistas beach – go on, you’re on holiday, and you need to replenish all those calories you used up swimming and snorkelling down there!
Category : food and drink
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