The best fish and chips in London
Despite external appearances, this Brixton newbie is more than your average takeaway. Inside, it gleams in the glow from modern light bulb fixtures, making you want to stay and eat in, and the food really is top-drawer. Battered cod is delicate and crisp, chips are pleasingly thick and fluffy, tartare sauce is extra zingy. Plus the service is as warm as you might expect had you been coming here for the last 20 years.
In 2014, the Golden Hind celebrated 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 and perfectly seasoned mushy peas were a treat, providing more than just a splash of colour on the plate.
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.
Innovative cookery is the hallmark here, with dishes like sea bass in a lime, mint and wasabi batter, applied sparingly, and Cajun spiced hake. The menu changes daily, since Hook gets some of its fish from Cornish day boats and catches vary from day to day. Don't even expect curry sauce on the side – it's all about a splash of homemade chipotle sauce. Yep, you'll be hooked in no time.
There are so many possible variations on the theme of deep-frying seafood and potatoes. Hence, the kitchen team at Kerbisher & Malt 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.
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. Anything other than chips and simple salad on the side would have got in the way.
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.
With monkfish, Maldon oysters and moules marinière on the menu, this is smarter than most chippies. But Sutton & Sons knows on which side its bread is buttered, catering as it does for Stoke Newington foodies. Natural and attentive staff, sustainable fish (from its fishmonger across the road) and locally brewed beer signify a top-notch chip shop.
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.
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.
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Fresh and clean, fun and colourful, and undoubtedly Eastern Mediterranean – when it comes to this cute little Levantine diner nestled just off Old Brompton Road, those adjectives could either be describing the food, the decor or the staff. A bustling open kitchen is the first thing you see when you go in, but the eye quickly shifts to the brightly coloured walls, clashing with dizzily patterned furniture. The clientele seems to be a mix of tourists and locals, but all are given the same merry reception, as if they’ve just come back for the third night running. Ceru promises the best of an area covering Turkey to Syria to Israel (and everything in between). Of our dips and green bits, the crisp apple, mint and pomegranate salad outshone the pancar beetroot offering by a country mile, but there were plenty of other intriguing numbers that will guarantee our return. Shish taouk, chicken tikka by another name, was perfectly cooked and plenty for two. Persian kaftas (beef patties) came slighly dry but were lifted by a tarator (tahini and lemon) sauce. Elsewhere, the zucchini and feta fritters were too stodgy to finish but a failsafe go-to of halloumi with harissa and grilled peppers more than saved the day. If you somehow have shares in pomegranates, rejoice! They have a way of studding, sprinkling or topping most things with them, but not to the point of overdosing. And be warned, the thanks and goodbyes were even more enthusiastic than the welcome. But you can’t really have to
Venue says: “Inspired by the flavours of the eastern Mediterranean coast, open all day until late for breakfast/brunch, all day menu and afternoon tea.”