I have come across many great Fish and Chips. The historical Magpie’s Cafe in Whitby with its superbly fresh fish in light and crispy batter or the rustic Papa in Weston Super Mare where the menu was just ridiculously extensive. And they did deep fry shark!! It’s just that when it comes to the chippies in London, I can’t find a decent place. But, a friend of mine insisted I should at least have a post dedicating to the Great British tradition in London (though, you know, it was said it was the Jews who imported this dish to the UK!). Not sure if she was being ironic but here it is.
THE ROCK & SOLE PLAICE
My god chef Alain Ducasse recommends this and there are always loads of Japanese tourists popping in. The staff are not only trained for waiting service but also to deliver excellent photographic skills. The price tag (on the board below) is reasonable and all eat-in fish comes with chips. You’ll get free ketchup and tartar sauce, too. Fish-wise, they do haddock, rock, sole, plaice (as the name of the restaurant suggests) and cod. Nothing too daunting. Do note that some fish takes longer to cook than others. You’ll get food envy – I did – as the waiter doesn’t usually tell you that and you – I – wait and wait, looking at diners who come in after you get food ten minutes or so before you..
I had cod, regular size. Great batter – golden and crispy throughout! The fish was greaseless, fluffy and sexy. Very white, fresh and o-so-perfectly-cooked! Smoking hot as the fish is deep fried to order. The chips were disappointing. Chunky, yes, but flappy, with no crunch whatsoever. My advice would be to get two fish and leave the chips. Overall, the wow factor here was still below that of the Magpie’s Cafe and it fetched 7 out of 10 from me.
Cabbies recommend this. I love, love, love the retro look from the outside and the slightly Ed’s Diner decor inside, where the walls are adorned with press cuttings. Cheaper than Rock & Sole Plaice but things come with no garnish. I have to pay extra for tartar sauce.
This was not fried to order. Three seconds after I placed my order, the cod made its way onto my table. Hot it was and seemingly greaseless. Taste-wise, the batter was no longer crispy – I wondered if it ever was – and sponged up grease. I ate the meat but not the batter. Chips were crispy enough but I’d rather have good fish. Rating-wise, this is a 5 out of 10.
PS Did they take the piss with that slice of lemon?
This is my next-door chippie in Islington. They claim to be modern which I think reflects only in their 60-min-makeover-inspired decor. Mums and kids appear regular clientele. Price is good – damned good for their £5.50 lunch deal. But, it seems, when the deal is not on, the fish and the chips are sold separately.
Good enough batter. Crispy but not light. Good quality fish. This is the sort of place I couldn’t moan about but couldn’t bring myself I rave about either. Just decent and comforting. The chips were, however, anaemic and a bit greasy. This is a 6 out of 10.
THE ROCK & SOLE PLAICE
45-47 Endell Street
Tel. 020 7836 3785
19 Theobald’s Road
Tel. 020 7405 4114
205 Upper Street
Tel. 020 7354 0276