What makes good fish and chips and where do you get them? There’s a Toptable feature out at the moment where a few people who occasionally put their thoughts on the internet (like me) have offered suggestions of places to look. Here’s a link to the full article.

The search for great fish and chip shop fish and chips is actually a personal ongoing project. There are many restaurants and gastro pubs where you can get beautifully steamed fish in perfect light yet crispy batter, served with awesome (probably ‘triple cooked’ chips) (Lutyens, for example). But I’m in search of the best over the counter stuff; the original British fast food. I’m thinking large pieces of cod or haddock, fried in front of you and unceremoniously chucked on top of a couple of scoops of soft and stumpy chips, before being covered in salt and vineger, wrapped in paper and stinking out your car, your kitchen, or maybe just a park bench or concrete wall.

I think my suggestions for Toptable are decent (my thoughts on Faulkner’s are below and Kennedy’s and the Golden Hind will follow at some point). But I’m pretty sure there are equally good options in London and I am certain there must be many that are way better all along our coastline. I’d be grateful for suggestions on where to go next – if you know somewhere with good fish and chips AND a better name than ‘A Salt and Battery’ in New York, then let me know and I’ll drop everything and head there immediately. Probably.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for an authentic experience in London, you can’t go too wrong with Faulkner’s on the Kingsland Road in Dalston. This is a proper fish and chip shop. No frills. The lace curtains are stained with grease and maybe cigarette smoke of years gone by. The traditional service counter features pukka pies, curry sauce and rank looking pink saveloys if you want them. A picture of an old fisherman and the charity RNLI box helpfully bring you back to the fish.

I went there a few months ago in the middle of winter and ordered a couple of portions of haddock and cod, some chips and mushy peas. I think you can eat there, but this option is not that appetising and was never the plan anyway. Instead, our paper packets were rushed to my brother’s flat nearby.

The cycle back probably meant the batter wasn’t as crispy as it might have been, but it wasn’t too greasy, was nicely coloured and flavoured and about the right thickness. The cod in particular was good and the portions of both types of fish were very generous…

… not as generous as the chip portions, mind – I understand whole Icelandic fishing villages survive on the same amount of carbohydrate for a couple of months at a time.

I prefer crisper chips. But, ultimately, these are exactly what you should expect – soft and stodgy, but also moreish and a sponge for salt and plenty of vinegar. You will want plenty of Heinz tomato ketchup on the side, though.

Mushy peas are a must and the ones at Faulkner’s are authentic and gloopy. A guilty pleasure – the gastro pub style ramekin of ‘garden pea and mint puree’ wouldn’t be right in these circumstances.

All in all, Faulkners does exactly what it sets out to do: traditional, fast and cheap fish and chip shop fish and chips. It’s not pretty, dainty or in any way refined, but sometimes that’s exactly what is needed.

Faulkners in 3 words

East London fryers

The Bill

Cheap as chips

424-426 Kingsland Road, Dalston, E8 4AA – 020 7254 6152

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Voting is now open for the Observer Food Monthly Awards.  Just sayin’.



8 thoughts on “Faulkner’s

  1. Just moved to St Margarets (Richmond) and we seem to have an excellent chippy. The name’s not very imaginative though: ‘Fish Bar’. I’ve only eaten from there once (haddock, chips, mushy peas), so obviously need to try it out again before coming to a verdict… any excuse.

  2. There’s a surprisingly good fish and chip shop called Olly’s on Great Suffolk Street, in Borough, which I frequent from time to time. Probably due to the fact that when I go there it’s normally near closing, they often cook the fish from fresh then and there (hence avoiding a fish that’s been lying and drying out in the hot cabinet thing for ages) – which I think makes a noticeable difference.

    Generally, however, I must say that my experience of (takeaway) fish and chips in London have been pretty disappointing. When it comes to great fish and chips, in my opinion Scotland undoubtedly has the edge. The best fish and chip shop I’ve ever been to is the Ashvale in Aberdeen, which retired from the Best Fish and Chip Shop of the Year UK-wide award thing back in the 90s, after something ridiculous like an unbeaten decade-long run, to give other places a shot. Also excellent is the famous Anstruther Fish Bar (in Anstruther, Fife, near St Andrews) which I’ve been to many times due to grandparents handily living nearby.

    Final thoughts: fish and chips should be eaten outside wherever possible, and preferably near the sea. And, most importantly, mushy peas are the stuff of nightmares, and certainly have no place anywhere near proper takeaway fish and chips!

  3. I had a takeout from Kerbisher and Malt near Brook Green on the shepherd’s bush road last weekend. Having shared the Faulkners experience with you I would say that Kerbisher’s was better quality : possibly largely because the meal was served in a posh cardboard box rather than steamed and squashed in paper. Low on authenticity and high on new wave entrepreneurship at a guess (swanky decor and a well spoken bloke behind the counter). You’ll have to come round and try it sometime.

  4. Faulkners is my local and love it! Another one you should try is Toffs in Muswell Hill. I went there when growing up a lot! And still try and get there now when in the area. A well known local goodie.

  5. Should also add Seafish on Upper Street in Islington is very very good. It is a takeaway and eat-in place – good for groups/parties as is BYO with a top class wine shop opposite (can’t remember the name). They do loads of posher nosh but basic fish and chips is fab – really light crispy batter and the chips are less stodgy and a bit lighter than the usual chippie fare, and really addictive for it.

  6. Thanks for the ideas everyone. I’ll look them up. Yim, I think the name of the wine shop is “The Sampler”.

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