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Feb 21, 2010 08:27 AM

Dover sole in London-- delicious and well-priced?

Love dover sole-- which is hard to find here in NYC and expensive too-- are there any recs for dinner spots in London (not super high end) where I can get a perfectly prepared Dover Sole (prefer they remove it from the bone before serving)?
Also, I've heard that john dory is similar, can anyone comment?

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  1. You don't see John Dory too often on the menus. But as most other white flat fish, it's a nice delicate flavour - so in that respect it's similar to sole.

    I'd have thought Simpsons in the Strand or Wiltons would be classic places for your Dover Sole.

    1. Well, it's expensive here too, so few mid-range places will have it on their menus. The Carlton Tower hotel charges nearly $60, with sides & service extra! You should be able to find it for about $40 though.

      Sheekey's in Covent Garden, Sweetings, and Swithin's ( both near Cannon St underground station) would be good. Best to call ahead to check they have any.

      Anywhere that serves Dover Sole will take it off the bone if asked.

      Edit: I've just looked at Sheekey's website, and I'm afraid it's just as expensive as the C.T.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Robin Joy

        I saw it on the menu at Hix at The Albemarle for 32.50 pounds, for 350g, fwiw.

      2. I rarely see it out but get it fairly often from the fishman at the farmer's market - they're about £4 each and incredibly fresh.

        28 Replies
        1. re: greedygirl

          £4!!! Where is this farmer's market? Unless these are tiny soles, that is amazing value. I rarely see them for less than £8, quite often over £10.

          1. re: chief1284

            It's in Brixton and the guy comes every other Sunday. He also does South Kensington. There was a feature on him the other week in Time Out - he used to work in the City but gave it all up to become a fisherman.

            The £4-5 soles are quite small - but plenty for one. The best thing about the fish he sells though is you know it's as fresh as it can be given that we don't live by the sea!


            1. re: greedygirl

              Right that's it, between that and hearing ad nauseum about franco manca, I'm definitely making a trip down one sunday.

              1. re: chief1284

                Franco Manca isn't open on Sundays.... However, I recommend Honest Foods on Coldharbour Lane for one of London's best breakfasts.

                1. re: chief1284

                  Here's another article about the fish man. If you go to the website, you can sign up to get e-mails about what will be on his stall and when.


              2. re: chief1284

                Church St market ( just north of Edgeware Road tube) has fantastic fish stall ( the one furthest East by Alfie's Antiques, also worth a visit). Only there Thurs- Sat when they have Dover Soles , it is dependent on supply they are about 8 pounds/kilo. will skin them etc. Also Waitrose often has them too and not much more expensive.

              3. re: greedygirl

                Are you certain it is Dover Sole and not Lemon Sole?

                I thought Dover sole was about £25 kg so £10 to £12 a fish, whilst Lemon Sole is about half this price at £16 kg or £5 to £6 a fish and Megrin Sole which looks like Dover Sole is even cheaper at £8 kg or £4 kg.

                If he sells Dover Sole this cheaply I can see why he is popular.

                1. re: PhilD

                  It is definitely Dover sole - I had one for my tea on Monday and just looked up a picture on the internet to make sure! I guess that on a Sunday he wants to get rid of his stock so if he has a lot of Dover sole he discounts it at around £16 a kilo. Also there are a lot of fishmongers in Brixton, unlike other places, so he prices competitively. His fish is so fresh that I would rather buy from him on the days that he is there even though the selection is pretty limited.

                  1. re: greedygirl

                    They must be very small fish at £4 each given that small whole Dover Soles are usually over 400g.

                    1. re: PhilD

                      Blimey - it's like the Spanish inquisition in here! All I know is that I have bought Dover Sole from him twice and they were in the region of £4-6 each both times. The first time they were unusually cheap as he had a lot and was trying to get rid of them.

                      1. re: greedygirl

                        "it's like the Spanish inquisition in here"

                        No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition. Cue further Month Python lines........,.,

                        1. re: greedygirl

                          Isn't it reasonable to ask questions if the price seems to good to be true? I assume as these are the end of day specials his normal price is higher earlier in the day and at the Saturday market at South Ken and Bermondsey.

                          1. re: PhilD

                            That's entirely possible. As I said, Brixton is his last market of the week so prices may be lower depending on stock. Plus it's a much less wealthy area than South Ken or Blackheath. Why don't you e-mail him?


                            1. re: greedygirl

                              Sorry for opening this can of worms for you greedygirl! Aside from this whole dover sole debate, the fish sounds great and I've joined the mailing list for them. My girlfriend lives near Blackheath too, so I might head to that market more regularly than Brixton, but both will be good. Super, super fresh fish is just about the best thing on earth (well, food wise), so this def sounds like a go-er.

                              1. re: chief1284

                                I thought it was Bermondsey not Blackheath, they are a few miles apart.

                                1. re: PhilD

                                  Yes sorry, I thought he was at Blackheath as well but I was mistaken.

                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                    His website says he does go to Blackheath. In fact I've emailed to ask to be on both the Brixton and Blackheath mailing lists.

                                    1. re: chief1284

                                      I wasn't imagining it then - he must alternate between Blackheath and Brixton. It is very dependent on the weather as well - didn't see him at all in January.

                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                        Just got an email from him, he does alternate between them. He also said the next few months are the leanest of the year fish-wise so he'll be using friday's catch all weekend rather than getting in a daily load fresh. Very honest. But as he pointed out a number of fish get better after a few days, dover sole a prime example!

                                        1. re: chief1284

                                          I haven't been able to skin the Dover sole I got from him, it's so fresh. Perfect just simply grilled with a bit of olive oil or butter.

                            2. re: PhilD

                              Raymond Blanc's TV show tonight had him out fishing for Dover sole off of Rye. The prices for a good-size fish are enormous, so I think you have every right to question how this man sells even small ones for so low a price. Lemon sole is quite similar and in America we also had grey sole, whatever that was.

                              1. re: zuriga1

                                The grey sole from Maine that I've had were probably more meaty/hefty (but held together less well) and less delicate than dover sole.

                                Prices are dynamic, depending on supply/demand (look at the variation in Maine lobster prices, there was a piece written about it in the NYT a couple years ago). It would be surprising if demand for expensive fish hasn't tracked with the economy, and thus forcing fishmongers to adjust prices accordingly.

                                1. re: zuriga1

                                  It's an interesting question why it's called Dover sole. Anyone know?

                                  I mean, Dover has never been a fishing port so you might have expected it to be Rye Sole or something. Needless to say, 22 miles away at the other end of your ferry trip, you'll find it called the Calais Sole on menus. Oui, c'est vrai.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    Cookipedia claims Dover was a large fishing port in the 19th century, and they used to catch the most Sole, that's where the name comes from.

                                    Also of interest, it says they are born like normal fish with eyes on either side and metamorphise into flatfish with the eyes moving together. Weird! However, I'm probably just sad and this isn't interesting to anyone else! Oh and they grow to 70cm!!! What the hell!? I've never seen one longer than about 35-40. I'd love to see that.

                                    Here's the entry:


                                  2. re: zuriga1

                                    The prices are good because there's no middleman. You can also get great meat at the farmer's market, and it's very keenly priced.

                                  3. re: PhilD


                                    I know you used to travel to Spain quite often. Sole is something that regularly appears on menus there and is always very reasonably priced. Any idea what sort of sole it's likely to be?


                                    1. re: Harters

                                      Was it called lenguado or mendo limon?

                                      Lenguado is Dover Sole, Mendo Limon is Lemon Sole.

                                      1. re: chief1284

                                        I've never seen it described as other than lenguado.

                        2. I had a lovely Dover sole at Bentleys in January, posted briefly on it here. It was around GBP 25.00 I think. Sweet as a nut.

                          1. Fish Central in EC1 always has it on the menu. It is market price, but usually comes in around £15. I always get it whole, but would guess they would fillet it for you. The fish is usually very well cooked, but not always.

                            Cheap starters and wine.