Some time ago, I enjoyed a launch evening at The Fish & Chip Shop in Islington. Stylish (sleek, quality fixtures and fittings, lowish lighting), cocktails and craft ales, freshened up old school classics, sustainable sourcing this, precisely presented that. It was clearly a textbook example of a modern British casual restaurant. A template ready to be rolled out across taaan.
The great, the good and the omnipresent of the food scene tweeted. The paper reviewers ran copy. Most comments were romantic or semantic (rest assured, the most perspicacious were taken on board: ‘mushy’ peas are now more correctly labelled as ‘crushed’. PHEW). Some mentioned it’s more comfortable seated at a table than the bar, particularly on a busy night. I had nothing of value to add.
But I have been back.
In fact I’ve returned a few times. Just not because of the things that probably take the most thought and work: not the un-chippy-like starters, such as London particular fritters or crab on toast; nor the more substantial and no doubt decent mains, like fish curry, or roasted cod, woodland mushrooms and bacon; not even the chip buttie with curry sauce (tempting though it is).
No, the One Good Reason to return is, quite simply, the Camden Hells battered fish. Both cod and haddock portions have been sizeable, evidently fresh, and coated in a flawless, light, non greasy, crispy, crunchy batter. £9.50 to have in, £8 to take away. Job done.
Good fish, pleasant surroundings, crunchy batter. Sure, it’d be more emotive if you had sea air cooling your face and sand between your toes. But if you’re in the Islington environs and know you fancy fish and batter and some crushed but not mushy peas, it’s a fine option.
The Fish & Chip Shop, 189 Upper St, N1 1RQ
Camden Hells battered cod, haddock, squid. £8-10.