Crispy and comforting – when done well, a plate of traditional British fish and chips is simply irresistable. Our critics have rounded up their favourite restaurants serving fish and chips in the capital. Do you agree with our choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.
There are restaurants you go to for the food, and restaurants you go to for a good time. Fish and Chip Shop is one of the latter. It’s the solo venture of Des McDonald, who was once head chef at The Ivy before rising through the ranks to become CEO of Caprice Holdings (J Sheekey, Scott’s, and so on). Suffice to say, he knows a thing or two about fish. So we were a little surprised that our meal didn’t make a bigger splash. It started well. Plump and sweet, the prawns in our ‘cocktail’ lounged on a pile of posh greens (pea shoots and the like) with a light, tangy marie rose sauce. Dessert shone too: a raspberry knickerbocker glory achieving that harmonious balance of sweet, tart and texture. In between though, the boat rocked. Our haddock, battered in Beavertown ale, was beautifully moist but woefully underseasoned. A shrimp burger again showed off terrific sourcing, but the promised ‘spicy tartare’ was too meek. Halfway through service, a chef rushed through the restaurant with a box full of emergency potatoes. One bounced to the floor and under the nearest table, as if making a bid for freedom. It clearly knew its fate: to be an unexceptional chip, lacking in either crunchy outer or fluffy middle. But if it’s buzz you’re after, you’re in the right place. The restaurant combines the buffed vintage styling of the J Sheekey Oyster Bar with the loud music and casual affections (T-shirted staff; wine served in tumblers) of Polpo. This is not a place for seafood connoisseurs. It’sRead more
Though your waistband might complain, your conscience need not as all the fish at this great little London chippy are sustainably sourced, with coley topping the bill. And that ethical alternative to haddock and cod is popular for good reason: it more than passed muster, with flaky and tender flesh beneath a perfect honey-coloured batter. The twice-fried chips were good too: chunky yet crisp. Perhaps the chilli and garlic sauce on our whole bream was a little overpowering, but only because the fish beneath was delicately fresh, and in no need of adornment. Potted crab, smoked sprats and meat pies take their place on the menu alongside the likes of beetroot salad, beer-battered halloumi and sweet-potato chips, making for an interesting mix of the modern and the retro. Only the unsubtle aquarium-style decor misses the mark – but you’ll be enjoying your fish too much to notice.Read more
Although this looks like a London cabby’s chip shop, its adherents are far more widespread. Every lunchtime, businessmen, hungry locals and passing trade wander into this blast from the city’s culinary past. Furnishings don’t seem to have changed much in the 50-plus years since fish were first fried here. It’s a cosy little spot, with Formica-topped tables, long benches and an old-school menu up on the wall. New restaurants may try to recreate this ‘retro’ look, but Fryer’s is effortlessly genuine. Even Giuseppe, the Italian boss who’s been frying in London for the past 45 years, is a no-frills man; he claims not even to like fish, but he certainly knows how to fry it. Cod flakes were moist, against dark, dry and crisp batter, fried the old-fashioned way in beef dripping (or vegetable oil for veggies). Try rockfish as a stronger-flavoured alternative to cod, and make your own butty with a doorstop of bread that comes slathered in butter.Read more
In 2014, the Golden Hind will celebrate 100 years of providing solid fish suppers to the residents of Marylebone – almost as long as the dish has been in existence. It’s therefore no surprise that the kitchen team have their craft well honed. Our haddock was exceptional, with a light, wonderfully grease-free batter. Chips were chunky, less well done than the norm, but crisp and fresh-tasting (if not quite melt-in-the-mouth on the inside). Perfectly seasoned mushy peas were a treat, and provided more than just a splash of colour on the plate. This attractive no-nonsense little chippy clearly has a broad appeal, with suited office workers sitting alongside off-duty workmen and ladies who lunch. A gleaming vintage fryer provides an interesting focal point for a room that is otherwise only modestly nostalgic.Read more
Cast an eye over the menu and it’s evident that Golden Union can talk the talk – fish delivered daily from sustainable waters, grade-A potatoes, a combo of two frying oils changed at least four times a week, and freshly made beer batter. The point is, it can walk the walk too. Fish is chunky, flaky and perfectly cooked in a light, crispy, complementary casing; chips are crisp, firm and fluffy; pies and fish cakes are own-made and look it – there seems to be no weak point. Decide to eat-in and the top-of-the-range large cod and chips will set you back £12.95. Side dishes are priced at the expensive end of the scale. The decor is retro with a knowing wink: tiled walls, plastic-topped wooden tables and chairs, and plastic tomatoes filled with ketchup. The music is up to date and not too intrusive, combining well with the busy atmosphere – and the vibe is maintained by young staff who seem genuinely proud of what they’re serving. Chances are you’ll be planning your return visit before you’ve even paid the bill.Read more
Perched at the zenith of London-based fish and chippery, Kerbisher & Malt works within pretty tight strictures. There are, after all, only so many possible variations on the theme of deep-frying seafood and potatoes. Hence, the kitchen team tweak every stage of the process to make the food as appealing as possible. This means high-quality fillets dunked in floaty-light batter, cooked freshly to order. Chips are double-fried, the tartare sauce is rich and made in-house, and the onion rings have been ‘pickled’, adding an appealing vinegar tang. So committed are the owners to transparency that they’ve installed a CCTV screen to allow punters in the dining room to watch the chefs slicing haddock and mushing peas. Extras are good too; fish finger butties, lightly spiced fish cake burgers with a twist of lemon mayo, and pots of piping-hot breaded calamares all add to the experience. The long shared table is permanently filled with families tucking into piles of pollock; regulars pop in for boxes of whitebait; and there’s a steady stream of custom from noon until 6pm, attracted by the early specials.Read more
Frills there aren’t, but this white- and blue-fronted spot often produces gasps of delight at the sheer freshness and just-so cooking of its fish. The second thing you need to know is that batter’s off the menu: it’s matzo, or matzo and egg, if you want the fish fried. Portions are generous and fillets of cod or haddock typically stretch off each side of the plate. Lemon sole – in other hands a pretty ordinary species – was a sweet, minerally feast, sensitively grilled on the bone. Anything other than chips and simple salad on the side would have got in the way. Matzo-crusted halibut, a golden orange cutlet of meaty white flesh, was similarly fresh and accurately cooked. Groundnut (peanut) is the oil of choice and its clean flavour is tastily apparent in Nautilus’s wonderful chips. Keo beer, taramasalata and houmous add to the Greek-island feel of the decor, which features pine panelling, boat pictures and raffia chairs. Early opening for dinner makes this a smart choice to take kids, and the little fried nuggets served to them have all the quality of adult portions.Read more
Poppies’ pick and mix assortment of shiny British kitsch – including a jukebox, mini red telephone box and a monochrome photo of heart-throb Cliff Richard – makes it look like a simulation of a fish and chip shop. The food on the plate is also better than the real thing. The Billingsgate-sourced fish is so fresh that diners are offered the option of having it grilled as well as fried. Extending beyond the staples of cod and haddock, the menu encompasses mackerel, seafood platters and jellied eels. Lemon sole was simple, crisply battered and matched well with Meantime London ale, while chips were irresistible. Takeaway orders in faux-newspaper wraps are doled out by waitresses in diner-style outfits complete with retro headscarves. Service on our visit was outstanding: friendly and unforced. There’s a gleamingly clean feel to the place (powder-blue Formica tables and all) that draws in everyone from neighbourhood hipsters to grandads with little ’uns on their knees. The bill, however, gives the game away – Poppies is a cut above. It’s spawned a second branch in Camden: not suprising, since this is as good as fish and chips gets.Read more
The dark-wood panelled interior probably seemed retro when Toff’s was established back in 1968. This Muswell Hill stalwart is a true one-off; the corporate slickness comes from being a long-established family business that knows what it’s doing and knows that people like it. Little changes here, but we were pleased to note that, unlike many London chippies, the business has joined the Marine Stewardship Council and sources fish from sustainable stocks. Fish is cooked to order and batter is the norm; egg and matzo, or grilling, bring a surcharge. Starters include fish or vegetable soup, deep-fried camembert, fish cakes and avocado vinaigrette. Our main-course grilled king prawns with herby butter dressing were lovely, but seemed pricey at £15.95 for a modest portion. No complaints about the gigantean battered haddock, however, which arched across the plate as though in yoga posture. Fat chips were fabulous. To drink, there are a dozen wines, three bottled beers and a range of spirits. In the unlikely event you have room, finish with Marine Ices ice-cream or one of the school-days puddings.Read more
Though your waistband might complain, your conscience need not as all the fish at this great little London chippy are sustainably sourced, with coley topping the bill. And that ethical alternative to haddock and cod is popular for good reason: it more than passed muster, with flaky and tender flesh beneath a perfect honey-coloured batter. The twice-fried chips were good too: chunky yet crisp. Perhaps the chilli and garlic sauce on our whole bream was a little overpowering, but only because the fish beneath was delicately fresh, and in no need of adornment. Potted crab, smoked sprats and meat pies take their place on the menu alongside the likes of beetroot salad, beer-battered halloumi and sweet-potato chips, making for an interesting mix of the modern and the retro. Only the unsubtle aquarium-style decor misses the mark – but you’ll be enjoying your fish too much to notice.