Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fish & Chip Shops

UK’s The Independent always produces “The 50 best” lists, whether delicatessens, bars, B&Bs and others but it is “The best 50 fish and chip shops” that caught my eye. Okay, it is slightly over nine months later since this listing appeared (i.e. January 15, 2011) but it’s better late than never for those of you heading to the UK and if you are really looking for good English fish and chips. I am only showing the Top 12 but those looking for the full list, do check out webpage http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/features/the-50-best-fish-and-chip-shops-2184928.html.

The panel that came up with this list are Karen Barnes, editor of 'delicious' magazine (www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk); Andy Gray, from Seafish (seafish.org), who organizes the National Fish & Chip Awards (www.fishandchipawards.com); Elaine Campbell, director of fundraising for the Fishermen's Mission, a charity that supports fishermen and their families (www.fishermensmission.org.uk); Emily Howgate (of SeaWeb - Seafood Choices) who works on Good Catch, a joint project that helps restaurants and caterers to improve seafood sustainability (www.goodcatch.org.uk); and Craig Butcher, editor of MSN food and drink (www.food.uk.msn.com).

1. Scooby Snax

Owned by former RAF man, John McNeill, 'Scooby Snax prides itself on offering healthy eating options for its customers and has recently added a mobile unit to take its award-winning fish and chips on the road', says Andy. 'John is also the organiser of Brightlingsea's biggest street party.'

Where 3 Church Road, Brightlingsea, Essex, CO7 0JE (01206 306542; www.scoobysfishandchips.co.uk)

2.Fish House

A popular chippy in Victoria Park 'village', the menu features a variety of fishy options that seem to be chosen to benefit customers taste buds as well as healthful seas. The fairly priced portions are satisfying and the batter and chips suitably crispy.

Where 126-128 Lauriston Road, London, E9 7LH (020-8533 3327; www.fishouse.co.uk)

3.Fishworks

'Escape the hubbub of Oxford Street for the more peaceful streets of Marylebone,' advises Elaine. On the high street, you'll find her favourite branch of Fishworks. 'It's always busy at lunchtime so go early, or book a table. Fish and chips here, and a glass of champagne, will revive flagging spirits.'

Where 89 Marylebone High Street, London, W1U 4QW (020-7935 9796; www.fishworks.co.uk)

4.Golden Hind

'The pescetarian Golden Hind is pretty basic inside but the art deco fryer at the back would stand out no matter how grand the surrounds,' says Craig. 'It's been around a long time and these days has a welcome Greek influence from the current owners. They've recently expanded into the former crêperie next door so it's (marginally) easier to get a table these days. Fare remains the same - excellent.'

Where 73 Marylebone Lane, London, W1U2PN (020-7486 3644)

5. Wigmore Fish Restaurant

'The Wigmore Fish Restaurant uses the best produce,' says Andy. 'Chips are made from quality potatoes carefully sourced from a number of leading British farmers and the fish is succulent and cooked to perfection. A much-loved chippy in the local community, the Wigmore boasts the latest in frying equipment to ensure that customers leave fully satisfied.'

Where Unit 6, Wigmore Park Centre, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU2 9XG (0871 960 9235)

6.Toff's

'Totally the best and always winning awards,' says Karen of this north London favourite. 'There's always a queue on a Friday night,' and no wonder. The menu is long and dependable with all the classics available as well as more unexpected choices (they'll do grilled fish to order).

Where 38 Muswell Hill Broadway, London, N10 3RT (020-8883 8656; www.toffsfish.co.uk)

7.Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill

'Richard Corrigan's place is no 'chippie',' states Craig. 'It's a temple to great seafood and exemplary wines. Prices are high, but then so is the quality of the fish. The house tartare sauce alone makes it worth a visit. Throw in a nice Chablis and you've got it made. It's high-end rather than seaside, but I think there's room for all points on the scale.'

Where 11-15 Swallow Street, London, W1B 4DG (020-7734 4756; www.bentleys.org)

8.Olleys

Karen describes this as a 'brilliant local fish and chip shop,' serving 'the crispest batter and best quality, moist fish. Needless to say, there are often big queues.'

Where 65-67 Norwood Road, Herne Hill, London, SE24 9AA (020-8671 8259; www.olleys.info)

9.Harbour Lights

'Lauded for their staff, the Harbour Lights team are helpful and welcoming - kids are especially well looked after,' sums up Emily. 'There's a big commitment to sustainability, with MSC-certified hake and pollack featuring alongside the more familiar fish options, and local Cornish potatoes used for the chips.'

Where Arwenack Street, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 3LH (01326 316934; www.harbourlights.co.uk)

10. Crab House Café

'The place is so effortlessly laid back that I find myself relaxing instantly,' says Craig. 'A brilliantly basic beach hut overlooking Chesil Beach, near Weymouth, the crab is fantastic, but their entire menu is bursting with fresh herbs, inventiveness and depth of flavours. Best of all, the menu changes constantly so there's always something to tempt. It's also one of the few places that work well day and night - it's got a lively family atmosphere during the day and a homely, candlelit feel in the evenings.'

Where Ferrymans Way, Portland Road, Wyke Regis, Dorset, DT4 9YU (01305 788867; www.crabhousecafe.co.uk)

11.Daniel's Fish & Chips

'Daniel's is committed to selling food of the highest quality; the owner is passionate about fish,' explains Elaine. 'He will only source from sustainable stocks, and is supporting research into new fishing technology to help ensure the future health of the fishing industry.Daniel is equally passionate about the potatoes his company uses - preferably Maris Piper.'

Where Several branches including 159 Abbotsbury Road, Weymouth, Dorset, DT3 0JX (01305 787720; www.danielsfishandchips.co.uk)

12.Hix Oyster and Fish House

'Definitely more than just an upscale chippie, Mark Hix's timber-framed restaurant has fantastic views over Bridport harbour in Dorset,' says Craig. 'The fish and chips are excellent (you can treat yourself with oysters to start) and wash it down with Hix's own oyster ale, from local brewers Palmer's.'

Where Cobb Road, Lyme Regis, Dorset DT7 3JP (01297 446910; www.hixoysterandfishhouse.co.uk)

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