09 March 2011
A US foodie friend of mine doesn't do fish and chips. It's not that he doesn't do real junk food (he is American after all), so is a specialist in burgers (there are definitively no decent ones in the UK or, indeed, outside the US). He also loves his kebabs (or kebobs, as he is want to call them): the place next to Lidl on the Seven Sisters Road gets the nod for these, ahead of the efforts of Topkapi which was too posh, being dismissed as: “lamb salad”. He cures and smokes his own bacon for goodness sake. But no, fish and chips he just cannot handle.
This is a shame, as not only can it be excellent, this wonderful restaurant local to us does some of the finest in town, and I should like to introduce him. The restaurant has recently taken over the crepe place next door. I'm not sure what it is with crepe restaurants and Marylebone, but the last one got taken over by the Real Greek and this one too fell to the Greek owners of the Golden Hind.
The centrepiece of the room is an enormous, old style fryer, alas no long functioning, but still giving off that small of tallow fat and beef dripping that pervades the room. The room itself isn't much to write home about – it is functional, the tables are nicely spread out and it is light. It also has that lovely smell of fat and vinegar that always lingers too long when you fry at home, seeping into the clothes, but here, it just adds to the atmosphere of the place.
The cod (sorry, I know that I shouldn't) is lovely: golden, crispy batter, opening up to allow the steam to escape from a firm, white, flakey piece of fish. The chips are good, thick and have just the right amount of sogginess to soak up the vinegar and the mushy peas an almost luminous green. Service is friendly and brisk and the fact that this is a BYO can do no harm to the queue that is ever-present, competing with the ever-present queue out side Relais de Venise opposite. Me, I would stick to the fish and chips and the luminous green mush that you get here, as opposed to the luminous green sauce that comes with your steak and chips opposite. At least you know what the mush is.