What do tourists eat in England? That's right, fish 'n' chips. Great big pieces of questionable white fish, lathered in a thick soggy batter, and fried in oil so filthy it could pass for crude. They'll pay dearly for the privilege and leave thinking England's culinary excellence is as overstated as its football team. A big 'Thank you!' to every chain-owned pub around Covent Garden.
It doesn't have to be like this and The Fish & Chip Shop shows how it should be done. Delicate white fish, encased in a light crisp batter. That's it, nothing else needs to be said - on the fish at least.
The Fish & Chip Shop 'chain' have two restaurants, one in Islington and one in the City. Tucked along an alleyway just off Liverpool Street, next door to the picturesque lawn of a church, and opposite the old Dollhouse Gentleman's Club, this new branch sparkles warmly through an L-shaped wall of glass. Inside, an oval bar is surrounded by small round tables for four and booths for a couple more. It's clean, crisp like the fish, and very welcoming - the theatrics of the guy on the door would please the tourists too.
Served promptly and politely, with two courses polished off in an hour, there aren't many complaints from me really. The insistence on bringing my food in separate bowls is a slight gripe. The fish looked lonely and less than impressive sat on its own. This is a hearty meal and I want to see a piping hot plate, spilling over as chips fight fish fight peas for the precious space of the enamel. The chips are the wrong sort too. They're fat, but they crunch. Where are the soggy chips that fall apart in your hands as you overload them with ketchup or curry sauce?
The minor gripes aside, plus an additional one for glass of ice with my beer (really? I don't know what that's about), I'd give The Fish & Chip Shop a healthy seal of approval, if I gave out such things. Definitely worth a visit if the queue for Poppies is too staggeringly huge, which it always seems to be.