The plaices to be

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Indy Lifestyle Online
When it comes to fish, we are getting hooked, according to Simon Bradley, head chef at Fishnets, one of more than a dozen new fish restaurants to open in the capital this year.

"Fish is ridiculously popular at the moment, and I don't think it's a flash in the pan," says Bradley, who believes consumers are being won over by the fact that fish is generally more naturally produced and healthier.

It's a trend that has also been recognised by Tony Allan, Chairman of Bank Group Restaurants, who are launching half a dozen cafe brasserie- style fish restaurants, called simply "Fish", all over London, starting with one in Borough Market in October.

"At Bank, we've always had quite a selection of fish dishes on our menu and we noticed that more of our customers were choosing them. As we are also fish suppliers, it seemed the perfect marriage."

Fish in Borough will be followed by branches in St James, Putney, Chelsea, Maida Vale and Islington.

Fish is now, in fact, so popular that it is being hailed as the "new meat" - something that some people are taking quite literally according to Simon Bradley.

"Tuna is particularly in demand as it's got a meaty look and texture about it. I've even had people ask me to do a Chateaubriand with fillet of tuna instead of beef," he adds.

Fishnets, Stamford Bridge, Fulham Road (0171-565 1430)

This modern fish restaurant is part of Ken Bates's new restaurant empire in Chelsea. Apparently, he thought the slight double entendre - which may lead to it being mistaken for a strip joint - amusing. No fish and chips on the menu here - current top scorer is cod and mashed potato with truffle oil.

Livebait, 21 Wellington Street, WC2 (0171-836 7161)

Livebait, which started out in The Cut in Waterloo (0171-928 7211) and has recently opened up in Covent Garden, serves seafood as you've never tasted before. Typically exotic dishes include smoked carpaccio of halibut with horseradish and potato salad, followed by East Anglian monkfish or Honolulu mahi-mahi.

Livebait is now owned by the Chez Gerard group of restaurants and another six Livebaits are apparently planned over the next three years. Chez Gerard is also moving its sister restaurant, Cafe Fish, from Panton Street SW1 to a new, larger premises just around the corner in Rupert Street in July. However, if you want to try this at home, The Livebait Cookbook by chef Theodore Kyriakou and Charles Campion will be published by Hodder and Stoughton in September.

The Quality Fish House, 94 Farringdon Road, EC1 (0171-837 5093)

Owner of The Quality Chop House, Charles Fontaine has always had a passion for fish and now he has managed to take over the premises next door, he has expanded that side of his business. The decor is the same as the original Chop House, with the additional feature of a fish display counter, although manager John Neilson admits it is more decorative than functional. "I suppose someone could choose a particular lobster if they wanted to, but it's really there because it looks nice."

Fish Tank, 45 Sheen Road, SW4 (0181-878 3535)

The wave of new fish restaurants isn't just confined to the West End. Fish Tank, which opened six months ago, is designed, well, like a fish tank, albeit a subtle version of one. Glance up to the ceiling and you will see the bottom of a fishing boat with the fisherman's feet hanging over the side and a hook dangling nearby.

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