By Derek Robertson
There is no greater British comfort food than good ol’ fish & chips. What was once a seaside staple has come a long way since the humble “chippy” began feeding rich and poor at the beginning of the 20th Century; crispy, fried fish and thick, fluffy chips, liberally doused in salt and vinegar, providing a quick, delicious, and hearty way to sate ones appetite. There are over 11,000 specialist fish and chip shops dotted around the UK now; these are the 10 best places to sample this delight in London.
Kerbisher & Malt (various)
If the crème de la crème is what you seek, Kerbisher & Malt should be your destination. They have five locations now, and at each one you can choose how your fish is cooked – traditionally battered, grilled, or deep-fried in matzo meal. The result is grease-free, succulent, tender fish which, along with their fluffy, double fried chips and all manner of innovative sides – fennel and dill salad, anyone? – put this place in a league of its own.
Toff’s (Muswell Hill)
There’s no doubting Toff’s credentials – not only have they been serving up their fare since 1968, they’ve been voted the UK’s Best Chippy multiple times as well. And it’s easy to see why; their food is fuss free but perfectly executed – crunchy, grease-free batter, super fresh fish, and cloud-like chips keep the crowds coming back.
Golden Union Fish Bar (Soho)
A Soho institution, the Golden Union preaches sustainability, dealing only with certified suppliers (and getting daily deliveries) and using organic potatoes farmed in The Fens. They also change their frying oil – a closely guarded blend – eight times a week. It all adds up to one of the tastiest, freshest fish & chips in the capital. Oh, and if you want to try something different, they make their own pies, fishcakes, and do a mean battered halloumi.
A jukebox, wartime memorabilia, and model aeroplanes give Poppies a distinctly retro edge. The style may be “1940’s East End London”, but the hearty, quality food more than makes up for any design missteps. Their fresh fish comes direct from Billingsgate market, and their fish suppers are even wrapped in (fake) newspaper to add to the nostalgia. Thirsty eaters can work their way through a killer craft beer menu as well.
Fish Lounge (Brixton)
This gleaming purveyor serves some of the best fish and chips in the area; their delicate, crispy batter, super thick chips, and tangy, homemade tartar sauce are all excellent. They’ve also made Monday’s “gluten-free fish and chips” day, so even those with allergies can tuck into this classic. Add in outstanding and super friendly service, and it’s no surprise they have a happy, loyal following.
Golden Hind (Marylebone)
This no-nonsense little chippy has been serving well-heeled locals and workmen alike for 104 years, and for good reason; quick attentive service and deliciously fresh food, expertly prepared has made it a hot lunch spot (their mushy peas are something of a legend). They even have a huge, gleaming vintage fryer as well, a nod to their long and illustrious heritage.
Sutton & Sons (Stoke Newington)
The owner, Danny Sutton, also owns a fishmonger, so there’s no doubting the quality of the fish used in this Stoke Newington favourite. And while the food is great, everything else is too; a delicious range of craft beers, a quirky, beach-shack interior, and Danny’s wife’s homemade range of pickles – from red onion to quails eggs – make this place stand out from the crowd.
Hook Camden Town
Bored of cod and haddock? Looking for a spicy twist on the norm? Hook, a sky blue oasis that’s like a trip to the seaside, has you covered. Cajun spiced hake, sea bass in a wasabi and lime batter, and seaweed-salted chips are just some of the delights they serve up; you can also get your fish coated in panko breadcrumbs, Japanese style. They roast and grind all their spices in house too, ensuring that everything is positively bursting with flavour.
Gilly’s Fry Bar (Finsbury Park)
What do you get if you cross a traditional chippy with a Japanese-style tempura bar? Gilly’s is what. This small spot is has simple, unassuming décor, for the real star is the food. Split into “raw”, “fry”, and “snacks”, the fish and chips are excellent, but it’s worth being adventurous; try the sweetcorn scraps, or the raw sea bass with chilli. Be sure to leave some space for deep-fried Celebrations for an utterly decadent end to your meal.
The Fish Club (St John’s Hill)
Elevating the classic dish to an art form is what this place is all about, and while the vibe is more connoisseur than hoi polloi, the prices remain incredibly wallet friendly. You choose your fish from the selection on display, and specify precisely how you’d like it cooked. And if chips aren’t to your fancy, you can choose between mash, sweet potato, or boiled new potatoes. There’s plenty of other fishy options too, and they even have a stream running under the Plexiglass floor to complete to seafood vibe.