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

M@
By M@ Last edited 79 months ago
The Fish & Chip Detective: The Fryer's Delight, Holborn

fryerssign.png
fryersfront.jpg
fryersplate.jpg
fryersmenu.jpg

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