The Fish & Chip Detective: The Fryer's Delight, Holborn

M@
By M@ Last edited 65 months ago
The Fish & Chip Detective: The Fryer's Delight, Holborn

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Where’s the best fish and chip shop in London? Our Fish & Chips Detective tours the capital’s chippies armed with an experienced palate…and a trusty weighing balance to discover who gives the best portions. For fish aren’t the only ones with scales.

The Fish & Chips Detective compares the chippies of London on a number of criteria. To help the comparison, we focus on just one meal: haddock (the king of takeaway fish), chips and mushy peas. If you’re more of a fishcake person, or prefer to be slipped a battered sausage, then speak up in the comments with your assessment. All shops will be visited at least twice.

The shop

The Fryer's Delight is rather famous. Inside and out, the fixtures are fixed, with little apparent update since the shop opened to a neighbourhood of lawyers, council flats and MoD staff in 1962. Even the mascot — a blue-eyed, puffy-lipped cod — raises an anachronistic bowler hat as it commends "the tastiest fish and chips in town" to passing customers.

Incongruously, the Fryer's Delight became perhaps the first real-life chippy to appear in a video game, when its traditional frontage was included in the 2002 release of The Getaway. Otherwise, there's nothing 21st-Century about this cabbie's favourite. Formica tables, black and white tiles, pickled eggs behind the counter...splendid stuff. But does this treasured relic still deliver a meal worthy of its reputation?

What's the food like? (The subjective bit)

  • Haddock: The batter was golden and attractive, if a little soft for our tastes. The meat inside was decent enough, though unmemorable.
  • Chips: An excellent, meaty taste enspudded in a thick, superior chip.
  • Peas: Not bad and not minted, but nothing special.
  • Service: The dictionary definition of perfunctory. Efficient on both visits, but no sign of a smile, or even a 'thank you' from the counter staff.
  • Packaging: Wrapped in paper and handed over in a thin carrier bag.

What are the portions like? (The objective bit)

  • Haddock: £4.90. 250g (visit 1), 235g (visit 2). That’s 2.0p per gram.
  • Chips: £1.50. 365g (visit 1), 400g (visit 2). That’s 0.4p per gram.
  • Peas: £0.80. 180g (visit 1), 160g (visit 2). That’s 0.5p per gram.
  • Total: £7.20. 795g (mean). That’s 0.9p per gram (after rounding).

Summary

The food is, in our opinion, nothing more than average despite the shop's towering reputation. But the Fryer's Delight still offers much delight, with its unimpeachably charming old-school atmosphere. The portions, while not huge, offer good value for money when compared to other central London chippies. One to eat-in, rather than take-away.

League Table

We're only two instalments old, so don't read too much into it. We've ranked them by value (pence per gram), and also included a subjective score to encapsulate the quality of the food and service.

Shop Total cost Relative cost (p/g) Subjective score
Fryer's Delight (Holborn) £7.20 0.9 6/10
Poppie's (Spitalfields) £9 1.0 9/10

The Fryer's Delight can be found at 19 Theobalds Road, WC1X 8SL.

We welcome suggestions for future instalments of the Fish & Chip Detective.

Main image by buckaroo kid in the Londonist Flickr pool. Other images by M@.

Last Updated 13 February 2012

Robbie

The Pheonix cafe on Coldharbour lane in Brixton does a wicked fish and chips. Worth a shout.

Hokey

Don't go to Olleys in Herne Hill. Really disappointed in that one. Flying Fish in Camberwell's a nice one. Plus they do a cheap lunchtime deal where it's only £4!

Abby Garner

I'd love to know how you rate the Rock and Sole Plaice at 47 Endell Street, WC1H 9AJ. Surely it deserves a visit for the name alone?

Tony Maxwell

Best chippy I know - Traditional Plaice on Leather lane.

The waitress in the downstairs restaurant is a legend!

Flegend

Fish Central in EC1 is an old favourite. Though it's now also a restaurant they still do traditional fish and chips to take away...

Cole Ryan

The best thing about the Fryer's Delight is that they cook their chips (and possibly their fish) in real beef drippings--gives it that extra hint of flavour

Sm

Yeah, Fryer's Delight is definitely living on past glories, even the interior needs freshening up a bit. Traditional I like, sloppy no. Try also Toffs (Muswell Hill), Faulkners (Dalston), Golden Hind (Marylebone), Masters Super Fish (Waterloo).

Sheelaghcullinan

Gigs Fish & Chip shop near Goodge street is great. Not the cheapest but top fish & chips.

Abby Garner

I must admit I've heard horrible things recently about Gigs, but always worth a try to make your own mind up.

A colleague said the food was tasteless and greasy, the decor was tired and charmless, and the 70's pop soundtrack made all of the above even harder to bear. Maybe it's their other food that's not so hot these days and the fish'n'chips are still good.

Webmaster

Quality Fish Bar in Richmond gets my vote. The food is delish, the service is great and the restaurant is a bit of a 70s relic. OAP Monday nights is where it's at.

Anon

Kennedy'd on Goswel Rd is lovely

MattFromLondonist

Cheers for the suggestions, everyone. This series could run and run...

Mittendorfer

Tanya's Fish Bar on Barnes High Street. Lovely Cypriot family run it, huge portions and great haddock. Not exactly cheap but worth it.

doreen

North Sea in Bloomsbury, near Judd Street. Go there. 

Junesles

Ooh what about Golden Union on Poland Street, it's right by my office - have always wanted to go but it's quite pricey - would love to know if it's worth it for a Friday treat!

Donna

you are going to get fatty fat fat after all these trials! but someone has to do it - i want the best and cheapest fish n chips in london!

Another Challenger

The Beach Hut at Highbury Barn is, without question, the best fish and chips on the planet, or possibily in the universe. The fish is fresh from Billingsgate fish market, the portions are huge if you get a regular or large haddock/cod/rock/skate and you can also get fresh oysters, fresh mushy peas etc.
 
The prices are pretty reasonable for such good fish - around £6 for a large fish and chips to take away or marginally more to eat in. In my opinion it can't be beat. Don't be deceived by the good music, exhibitions or location either - it may all suggest non-traditional fish 'n' chips but that's misleading.
 
I challenge the Fish & Chip Detective to give it a try.
Faulkners used to be pretty good too, but haven't tried it in a while and it was getting pricey....

Yura

Fish Club on St John's Hill in Battersea is a top establishment, check it out. Deserves all the rave reviews it gets.

Trip_dont_fall

I ate here and really liked it! Good food, cheap prices, friendly staff!

http://www.tripdontfall.xyz...