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.
Oliver’s is a year-old addition to Steeles Village, the well-to-do area between Belsize Park and Chalk Farm in Camden. The shop’s a real looker. Its gleaming green and white tiles match up smartly with the newly painted Sir Richard Steele pub next door. Oliver’s does a booming takeaway trade, but also has a small restaurant space at the back (book ahead, and don’t wear too many layers…it gets warm). The words ‘tradition’ and ‘quality’ are printed on every menu and placemat. We’re happy to say that Oliver’s largely fulfils both its watchwords.
What’s the food like? (The subjective bit)
- Haddock: a true whopper, which would give anyone called Jonah a nasty flashback. This is the biggest portion we’ve yet seen. The batter is delicious, fried to order in vegetable oil, with crispy and soft patches. It somehow looks like a natural part of the fish, in a good way. Inside, the flesh is well-cooked and chewy, just how we like it. “Responsibly sourced where possible.”
- Chips: Lightly cooked and dry, which will appeal to the healthy denizens of Haverstock Hill (as will the copious salad garnish), but might disappoint the cohort who prefer a more greasy chip. Portions come in two sizes: massive or colossal.
- Peas: whipped into a paste with hint of mint. Pleasant enough, but left us hankering for some chunk.
- Service: Variable. On several visits, the counter staff got a little flustered with the pressures of trying to juggle takeaway, restaurant and phone orders (for they also do home delivery). But Oliver’s army (or ‘crew’ as it says on their shirts) are always polite and friendly.
- Packaging: You know the phrase “couldn’t punch your way out of a paper bag”? Well, the paper bags offered by Oliver’s would make admirable props for anyone wishing to attempt the challenge. They need to be big, as each item comes in its own box. It’s fish and chip apartheid. If you order for four people, you’re likely to come away with several bags-worth. Fortunately most of this packaging is recyclable.
What are the portions like? (The objective bit)
We weighed each portion so we can compare the value with other chippies (see table below).
- Haddock: £7.25. 315g (visit 1), 340g (visit 2). That’s 2.2p per gram.
- Chips: £2.75 (large). 525g (visit 1), 475g (visit 2). That’s 0.6p per gram.
- Peas: £1.25. 180g (visit 1), 170g (visit 2). That’s 0.7p per gram.
- Total: £11.25 for 1,003g. That’s 1.1p per gram (after rounding).
Oliver’s is easily the most expensive of the three chippies we’ve visited so far. This reflects the portion sizes, which are about 25% more generous than other outlets we’ve tried, but also the quality and presentation. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, no-frills meal, this ain’t it, but if you want the nearest thing to gourmet fish and chips, Oliver’s is a reliable option. The menu also includes healthier options such as grilled fish and salads.
The following are ranked by value (i.e. how much you pay divided by how much you get). This, of course, doesn’t take into account how tasty the stuff is. You’re probably prepared to pay more for less, if the meal is superior. Hence, we’ve also included a ‘subjective score’, which reflects our opinion.
|Shop||Total cost||Relative cost (p/g)||Subjective score|
|Fryer’s Delight (Holborn)||£7.20||0.9||6/10|
|Oliver’s (Haverstock Hill)||£11.25||1.1||8/10|
Note: 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.
Oliver’s Fish & Chips is at 95 Haverstock Hill, London, NW3 4RL