Cod wrapped in golden batter, vinegar-soaked chunky chips and mushy peas have always been a traditional British speciality but our favourite comfort food has gone increasingly upmarket for London’s trendy dining scene. Here’s where to get the best fish and chips in town…
1 Toffs of Muswell Hill
This multi-award winning restaurant has been in Muswell Hill for 1968 and is still one of the best options for fish and chips in London despite the launch of numerous competitors. In addition to the usual favourites, Toff’s serves up rainbow trout, skate, sea bass, lemon sole and dover sole, and uses a supplier that is a member of the Marine Stewardship Council, so you can feel as heavenly about the fish’s origin as you do about its taste. The fish is cooked in ground nut oil giving it a lighter flavour and less greasy texture, and the portions sizes are more than decent. Don’t be surprised if the restaurant is always full as it’s a popular go-to place for locals, especially with families who can opt for the ‘Young Toff’s menu for kids. Sides include Greek salad, homemade mushy peas and coleslaw.
38 Muswell Hill Broadway N10 3RT; 020 8883 8656; toffsfish.co.uk
2 Bonnie Gull
Who would have thought fish and chips could look so beautiful? Bonnie Gull has transformed this once humble dish into a stylish dining choice, without sacrificing its integrity. Owners Alex Hunter and Danny Clancy pride themselves on offering simple yet artfully-presented plates of fresh fish and seafood, all of which have been responsibly sourced and fished from British waters. The menu of options is mouth-watering and locates the source of each fish in the title, examples being Loch Ryan Oysters, Devon Brown Crab or New Forest Sea Trout. Dishes are not cheap, however the quality of the fish more than justifies the cost, especially when it means little touches like the batter being made from a Japanese tempura mix for extra crispiness. The restaurant started life as a former pop-up in a Hackney pie’n’mash shop, but now has two established restaurants in Fitzrovia and Exmouth Market with a traditional blue and white homely striped décor. Come for lunch or dinner and you won’t be disappointed.
55-57 Exmouth Market EC1R 4QL; 020 3122 0047; bonniegullseafoodbar.com
3 The Fish House of Notting Hill
If you want to find somewhere that reliably cooks fish and chips to perfection every time then Notting Hill’s Fish House is your place. The quality of fish is really very good and the service is friendly – a great mix for a neighbourhood joint. The interior is small but comfortable and understated: grab a window to watch the world go by as you dine on fresh cod, haddock, sole or plaice – moist on the inside and crisp on the outside. The cod comes in three sizes, while the rest of the fish has two options of large or regular. A separate takeaway menu is also available too.
29 Pembridge Road Notting Hill W11 3HG; fishhouse-nottinghill.com
So many London restaurants aim to provide an ‘experience’ for diners nowadays but Poppies nails it because it gets it right on the atmosphere and – just as importantly – the food. Owner Pop, who has been serving fish all his life, has recreated two East End London fish bars – one in Spitalfields and the other in Camden – dating between 1945 and 1955, and the retro interiors are enormous fun. The Camden entrance has an entrance stairwell evocative of a descent into a tube station in 1940s, period pendant lights and a 1950s jukebox. In both eateries waitresses dress in vibrant wartime red dresses and white-uniformed staff serve chips in authentic newspaper-text boxes or cones. There is also much to admire by way of vintage memorabilia on the walls while you wait for your food. The fish itself is fresh and delicious; it comes from Billingsgate and is sustainably caught, while the chips are chunky but light and fluffy inside. Traditional dishes are order of the day but in addition to jellied eels, cod and haddock, you will find calamari rings, hake and homemade fish cakes, plus chicken options for non-fish eaters.
30 Hawley Crescent NW1 8NP; 020 7267 0440; poppiesfishandchips.co.uk
5 Golden Union
Since opening in 2008, the Golden Union Fish Bar has built a reputation as a relaxed, friendly place to get top-quality fish and chips. The family-run café uses a blend of oils to optimise the flavour and the homemade beer batter is made fresh throughout the day. Expect a classic menu serving traditional favourites done very well. The menu has curry sauce, pickled eggs and onions, and even the good old saveloy, which is often missing from the trendier restaurants. The fish offers creamy flakes served up in crunchy bites thanks to its golden batter. The proportions are generous and just what you will want after busy day of shopping.
38 Poland Street, W1F 7LY; 020 7434 1933; goldenunion.co.uk
6 Hook Camden Town
Hook is a relative newcomer on the scene but it’s already been heralded as one of the best fish and chips shops around. What’s really exciting about this place is its innovative approach to flavours – these guys really like to experiment. The menu is an exotic odyssey of flavour concoctions, which will see you scratching your head over which item to choose. Here’s a small selection to get your taste buds wetted: Cajun Spiced Panko Haddock with Seaweed Salted Chips & Lemon Cajun Sauce, Lime, Mint & Wasabi Tempura of Sea bream with Seaweed Salted Chips & Basil Chilli Sauce, not forgetting sides such as Sea Spaghetti & Samphire Citron Salad or a vegetarian option including Deep Fried Risotto Balls, supplied by Archani Brothers down the road. It’s unbelievably delicious stuff and without a hint of grease anywhere. The menu changes daily and the sustainably-caught fish come from Cornish boats. Right now there are outlets in Camden and Pop Brixton only but, take our word for it, other locations are sure to pop up very soon.
63-65 Parkway NW1 7PP; 020 7482 0475; hookrestaurants.com
Pop Brixton, 53 Brixton Station Road SW9 8PQ; popbrixton.org
7 Sutton and Sons
Sutton and Sons started life in Stoke Newington in 1998 under Danny Sutton, who opened a fish and chips shop on the same high street as his fishmongers. Since then, a second location has sprung up in Shoreditch’s Boxpark and its reputation for serving quality, fresh fish and fluffy chips has also spread during that time. Fans of fried and grilled fish are rewarded by a diverse and considered menu that places just as much emphasis on adventurous palates as it does for old-fashioned tastes. The small bites menu has much to recommend it like the Maldon oysters, Cromer crab on toast and moules marinières. The battered monkfish is a little pricier than the other options but it’s very tasty and worth the expense. Also worth mentioning is Mrs Sutton’s pickled balsamic baby shallots and quail eggs, and her famous homemade cakes, which make a sweet treat for afterwards.
Unit 52, Boxpark, Shoreditch, 2-10 Bethnal Green Road E1 6GY; suttonandsons.co.uk
8 Kerbisher and Malt
Any place freely offering ‘CCTV’ footage of its staff slicing fresh fish and preparing mushy peas deserves our attention. Transparency and sustainability are big on the menu of this small chain of fish and chips shops based in Brook Green, Clapham, Clerkenwell, Ealing and Mortlake. The sauces are homemade – the rich tartar or zingy lemon mayonnaise make perfect matches for the crunchy double-cooked chips – and the vegetable oil used for cooking is recycled as bio fuel after used. The fish is delicious, fresh and flavoursome and you can order it fried or grilled. There are also burgers aplenty – you can’t go with a fish finger butty – and options of haddock, cod, plaice, pollock and coley. Try the picked onion rings, in which the acidity cuts through the batter to eye-rolling epic proportions. The food is consistently good and excellent value for the quality on offer and the simple white walled interiors are clean and airy.
164 Shepherds Bush Road W6 7PB; 020 3556 0228; kerbisher.co.uk
Olley’s is a much-loved South London eatery, which offers up over 20 species of fish served fried, grilled or steamed and even lists the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) rating of each dish on its website so you can see how sustainable your fish of choice is. There is a bistro-style restaurant, and takeaway option for those short on time, but a leisurely visit is definitely worth your while to enjoy the delicious food. The name is taken from a fish and chips reference in Dickens’ Oliver Twist and it has stuck since, despite the obvious misspelling. You can be assured of a varied menu consisting of the usual offerings of cod, haddock and hake etc. but you should definitely try the king prawns fried in a light batter and smothered in garlic butter, which is absolutely delicious. Mondays and Tuesdays are gluten-free fish days while Happy Haddock Wednesdays is when you can get Haddock & Chips & Mushy peas for £11, whether you eat in or take away.
65-69 Norwood Road, Herne Hill SE24 9AA; 020 8671 8259; www.olleys.info
10 Vintage Salt
If the name isn’t familiar, perhaps it’s because you know Vintage Salt by its former name: Fish & Chips. Run by Des McDonald, a former head chef at The Ivy, the brand started life on Upper Street, Islington but is expanding fast. The menu selection is classy and varied. Traditional fish and chips are available – of course – but elevated by extra touches from the indulgent truffle drizzled over chips to Camden Hells-infused batter for the fish. Leaner options won’t disappoint either. Recent dishes have included a melt-in-the-mouth roasted sea trout and sumptuous crab on toast with spiced avocado, although the menu varies slightly between the different locations. The Liverpool Street interior is a lovely place to come for a night out; the circular dark panelled bar and lino flooring lend it a refined, retro feel but the atmosphere is bustling and relaxed.
Vintage Salt, Dashwood House, 69 Old Broad Street EC2M 1QS; 020 7920 9103; vintagesalt.co.uk
Like many of the best fish and chips eateries, Brady’s is a family-run business. The location changed a couple of years ago – and for the better. Now based on the waterfront just south of Wandsworth Bridge, the restaurant’s marine-themed interior, featuring model yachts and seagull placeholders, feels bright and airy with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking its outdoor terrace on the Thames. Battered fish is sourced from the Grimsby quayside while grilled fish comes up from Newlyn in Cornwall. The chips are gorgeous lightly-battered crispy bites that are fluffy in the middle; make sure you try one of Brady’s famous fresh herbs sauces to complement your order. And if you’re unsure whether to opt for starters or puddings, may we suggest the delectable Beetroot Cured Smoked Salmon & Horseradish Mayo for the former and the apple crumble for afters. All in all Brady’s is a great choice for weekends with friends or a mid-week supper.
39 Jews Row SW18 1TB; 020 8877 9599; bradysfish.co.uk