It's Friday. A good excuse to deliver up some of the best examples of 'modern' fish and chip restaurants across the land. Here's seven to put on your list:
The Fish and Chip Shop, London
Shaking things up on Upper Street is the newly opened ‘posh chippie’ by Des McDonald, former CEO of Caprice Holdings. Fresh (never frozen), line and hook caught cod, plaice, haddock and Pollock can be grilled or fried in The Fish & Chip Shop’s own recipe batter, made with local Camden Beer.
Expect hand cut chips, experimental condiments as well as Dorset Rock oysters, scallops and fish pie. They’ve also promised BYOB nights and master classes in the near future.
Oliver’s Fish and Chips, London
Tucked away in Belsize Park, Oliver’s Fish and Chips perfectly combines British charm with the best Mediterranean cooking techniques. To accompany its traditional offerings of battered cod, haddock and plaice, Oliver’s offers sauces including Salsa Verde and Tomato Mediterranean, which are a welcome twist on this British classic.
Although the refreshing culinary combinations may not satisfy fish and chips purists, the décor certainly will: wooden tables, aluminium chairs and brick tiling are all reminiscent of a mid-century British seaside chippy.
Rick Stein’s Fish & Chips, Falmouth
Having put the Cornish town of Padstow firmly on the foodie map with his cookery schools, restaurants, delicatessens, pubs and patisseries, Rick Stein’s next move was fish and chips — his Padstow original and this new Falmouth outpost, right on the quay.
Asked what makes his fish and chips so good, he says: “We make our own chips, we fry everything in beef dripping and we use fillets of large cod from Iceland [the country, not the frozen food store — duh].” And it’s the dripping that really makes the difference, creating a gnarled, crisp, full-flavoured batter shell in which to steam the fresh local hake, monkfish and John Dory.
If fried’s not your thing then try fish roasted from the barbecue oven. If the weather’s squally, grab a seat behind the glass-fronted windows; alternatively munch on fish and chips wandering along the quay.
When Geales started frying fish in 1939, Notting Hill was a very different place: less chichi mews houses and millionaires, more slum landlords and salty characters. It catered for the working classes doing what fish and chips does best — giving a hot, filling, sustaining meal.
Geales in 2011 is significantly smarter, with white tablecloths, large glasses of buttery Chablis and plenty of bourgeois menu additions (tempura soft shell crab, lobster spaghetti, etc) confirming its metamorphosis from chippy to fish restaurant.
What it cooks is excellent, with the haddock best enjoyed at an outdoor table, watching the well-groomed world walk by.
Poppies of Spitalfields, London
From its Formica-topped tables and fish bar to the restored AMI jukebox, you’d be forgiven for mistaking Poppies for a Fifties-style American diner. Look a little closer though, and the Second World War memorabilia, London Underground nameplates and Vera Lynn-esque soundtrack place it firmly in old Blighty.
What you might not realise is that Poppies only opened its doors last year. They offer a wide-ranging choice, including sole, skate and scampi on the fish list sourced daily from the local Billingsgate market, plus traditional alternatives such as saveloys and battered sausage.
The mushy peas are delicious (though not minted), and their pickled onions are damned tasty with pretty much anything fried. Poppies also has a license: we rate craft brewers Meantime’s Pale Ale.
The Smokehouse, Folkestone
The Smokehouse’s website boldly declares, “At The Smokehouse, you’ll find proper fish and chips, done just as they should be”. Although this sounds almost dangerously confident, never has a statement been more true.
Founded by Gordon Ramsay’s protégé Mark Sargeant, The Smokehouse uses only the best of locally caught fish and its mushy peas are some of the most raved over in the country.
As The Smokehouse is perched on Folkestone Harbour, its famous fare is best enjoyed sitting outside on a summer’s day.
Kerbisher & Malt, London
Thanks to fine-dining expert and ex-Oxo Tower chef Saul Reuben and his brother-in-law Nick Crossley, Kerbisher & Malt is fish and chips done properly. The freshly battered cod is flaky, pearly white and perfectly cooked.
The lemon mayonnaise is unctuously, gloopily delicious (like the tartare and regular mayonnaise, it’s homemade). The chips taste earthily of potato, managing to be both crunchy and fluffy.
The menu has something for everyone: crushed potato salad for your girlfriend; chip butties for students and fish served in matzo — a Jewish flatbread — for those in search of something a bit different.