London's best fishmongers
Net the freshest fish in town at one of the city’s best fishmongers
Recreate the feel of a Mediterranean summer by the sea with a seafood barbecue. To make it authentic, you’ll need fish so fresh it’s almost wriggling, which means it's time for a trip to the fishmonger. Celia Plender's trawled the streets of London to find the best. Do you agree with the choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.
If you don’t mind a very early start (the market’s generally packing up by 8.30am), then head straight to source at the London’s largest fish market. An institution since the 14th century, it’s an experience worth trying at least once in your life. It’s moved location over the years and is no longer in Billingsgate in the City of London, but rather the Isle of Dogs, where fish arrives daily from all over the world. Although aimed mainly at the wholesale trade, many of the 50 odd stalls are happy to sell in smaller quantities.
- Trafalgar Way, E14 5ST. 020 7987 1118.
Working with fish since the age of 13, the Chelsea Fishmonger’s owner, Rex Goldsmith, is a man who knows a bass from a brill. Since going solo in 1996 with a stall in Surrey, he’s built up enough trade to open two shops – one in Chelsea, the other in Guildford. A traditional open front shop reveals gleaming tiles and a counter packed with produce bought daily from Newlyn and Billingsgate. There’s plenty to lure you into the Chelsea branch. The team strive to supply fish and shellfish from safe stocks, such as line-caught Icelandic cod and jigged (hand-line caught) Cornish squid.
- 10 Cale St, SW3 3QU. 9am-5.30pm Tue-Fri; 9am-3.30pm Sat.
The name’s a giveaway as to where this business started out. Originally a fish stall in old Covent Garden market, CGF has been trading on the current spot in Turnham Green for more than 20 years. Cod and haddock are sourced from Scandinavian waters where stocks are in better shape, and the fishmongers here try their best to choose line-caught where possible. Confident that their fish is fresh enough to eat raw, they also sell sushi paraphernalia including rice, nori seaweed and soy sauce. A range of smoked fish is also available.
- 37 Turnham Green Terrace, W4 1RG. 8am-5.30pm Tue, Wed, Fri; 8am-5pm Tue, Sat.
This venerable Nunhead operation has been serving the local community for more than a century (it opened in 1897). The area may have changed a lot since then, but Soper’s reputation for flipping good fish hasn’t. Well-priced British varieties arrive daily from Cornish day-boats while the exotics are acquired at Billingsgate Market. Almost all the varieties on sale are line-caught. While most fishmongers put their feet up on a Sunday, Soper’s continues to furnish local shoppers with the latest haul.
- 141 Evelina Rd, SE15 3HB. 8.30am-5.30pm Mon-Sat; 11.30am-6pm Sun.
Nestled at one end of bustling Broadway Market, the mongers at Fin and Flounder follow Marine Conservation Society (MCS) guidelines strictly when sourcing their fish. Farmed varieties are also given the same care and attention, only coming from Soil Association approved seafood farms. Working with what’s best from the day-boats that morning, they always have a good variety of guilt-free fish and seafood including lesser known flat fish such as dab or witch. While you’re there you can also pick up fresh herbs, spices and deli items such as cured pancetta or black pudding to bring out the best in your catch. They also have a couple of local weekly market stalls – at Netil and Broadway.
- 71 Broadway Market, E8 4PH. 10am-6.30pm Tue-Fri; 9am-5pm Sat.
Opened in 2010, the Fishmonger’s Kitchen has already built up a strong reputation in west London. Run by chef Tony Licastro, who has previously worked at restaurants including Nobu, the shop sells seasonal and sustainable seafood. Licastro also puts his cheffing skills to good use with a range of own-made ready meals, prepared in house, such as lobster bisque and tiger prawn curry, plus a catering service that includes supplying seafood platters, whole dressed salmon and sushi.
- 119 Shepherds Bush Rd, W6 7LP. 9am-6pm Tue-Fri; 9am-5pm Sat.
The team at James Knight take ethical sourcing seriously, and even run the odd workshop to bring their customers up to speed on the latest issues. As you’d expect, scallops are hand-dived, tiger prawns are Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) approved. Other highlights include Devon crabs and lobsters cooked, cracked and picked on the premises. The fish slab is always brimming with other sustainable goodies too. James Knight also gets the royal seal of approval as a registered supplier to the Queen and Prince Charles.
- Selfridges Food Hall, 400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB. 9.30am-9pm Mon-Sat; 11.30am-6pm Sun.
A close relationship with the day-boat fishermen in Plymouth means fresh, ethically sourced fish arrives in store every day at Moxon’s. At its best at the moment in the three branches (Clapham South, East Dulwich and South Kensington) are plaice, squid and mackerel, all netted off the South West coast. If you get peckish after a trip to the Clapham South branch they also have a tiny fish bar round the corner where you can pick up battered cod with chips or grilled cuttlefish salad.
- 7 Westbury Parade, (Balham Hill), SW12 9DZ. 020 8675 2468.
This long-established fishmonger halfway up the Essex Road has been doling out impeccably fresh fish since 1895 (the present owner, also called Steve Hatt, is a fourth-generation fishmonger). It’s popular with the local crowd so expect to find a queue trailing out the door. An ample window display however offers plenty to gawp at as you wait. To accompany their wild and farmed fish and seafood, they also stock samphire and French sauces. Less common seafood, such as sea urchin, is available on request.
- 88-90 Essex Road, N1 8LU. 020 7226 3963. 8am-5pm Tue-Thu; 7am-5pm Fri, Sat.
In the business for more than 45 years, Walter Purkis must have scaled, gutted and filleted a fair few fish in his time. While he’s at the helm of the Muswell Hill branch, son John runs the Crouch End branch, which also has an on-site smoker that keeps both shops stocked with smoked salmon, haddock, kippers and mackerel. The Purkis family focus on supplying fish from Devon and Cornwall and opt for wild where possible. Highlights of the summer months include wild Scottish salmon, sea trout and fresh samphire.
- 52 Muswell Hill Broadway, N10 3RT. 9am-5pm Tue-Sat.
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