Codsmacked by Fish Bone’s twice-cooked fillet

My punishing quest for the best fish and chips in London hit a new low on a return visit to Fish Bone, a much-praised chippie on Cleveland Street in Central London. At lunchtime there is always a queue.

When the young man in a hygienic trilby hat (right) served me the lone cod fillet idling in the heated fish display cabinet I told him I wanted a freshly fried one. He balked, insisting it had only been sitting two minutes. I relented.

Bad move.

Neither freshly unfrozen nor freshly battered and fried, the cod also had a strange, stale, almost burnt taste. I flipped the fillet over and found a dark, blistered patch on its hidden underside. I showed this piece of nasty business to the young man in the hat. He was unapologetic. “That’s how we cook our fish.”

At best the talented Mr Trilby was lying defensively to cover up his mishandling of a single order. At worst he was telling the truth: It was now standard practice at Fish Bone to first deep-fry its battered fillets and later finish them off under or over a grill, the heating element in the display case or elsewhere. Either way, twice-cooking may be good for fried potatoes but not for fried fish – not, anyway, in this way. For a restaurant specialising in fish and chips microwaving might even have been the lesser evil.

Here, have a closer look. Pretty cod-awful, isn’t it?

Fish Bone – 82 Cleveland St, London W1T 6NF

About Daniel

Food critic and events leader Daniel Young is the "Young" behind young&foodish

Comments

  1. Jamie Kitson says:

    Have you tried Moxin’s? I used to really like Fish Fish at Highgate, but I have a feeling it’s shut down. Even my local chippy, the cheap and cheerful Maria’s at Clapham Junction sounds a world away (in a good way) from the above.

  2. gibbo says:

    It really is quite simply. You will not find decent fish and chips in the south of England, never mind London.

    Where they serve gravy with your chips is where you will find your holy grail. The north. Leeds, whitby and my favs up in north shields Fish Quays (Kristians or The Waterfront) or indeed the shops in South Shields

  3. @Gastro1 says:

    Fish and Chips Shops/Bars in London have not been up to scratch for over 20 years IMHO , you can find decent examples in gastro pubs and the odd restaurant but even the likes of Masters , The Fryers Delight , Rock and Sole Plaice , Seashell are pretty average to poor.

    The new wave like Kerbisher and Malt , Fish Club and Seacow can produce good stuff but are far removed from what I would call traditional fish and chips.

    I tend to use Brady’s in Wandsworth now near The Ship who make very good F&C themselves and Seafresh in Victoria neither are mind blowing but better than average .Olleys in Herne Hill is good but have not been for over a year.

    Best in the UK for me are Seniors in Fleetwood and The Bay in Stonehaven – have had very good fish and chips all over Yorkshire especially Hull and along the coast in Lancs.

  4. Daniel Young says:

    @gastro – You would be hard-pressed to find better than Seafresh in all of London. Love the Formica mid-century authenticity of Fryers Delight, but its fish and chips might just be the must overrated in London.

  5. Jessica says:

    I live close to The Fryer’s Delight and whilst I appreciate the decor, I find the smell that comes from this place, clinging in the air, during it’s business hours, to be positively off putting.
    Best fish and chips by far, is the lesser-known local: Traditional Plaice on Leather Lane Market EC1. Really friendly service, fresh and beautifully cooked fish. Visit at lunchtime during the week, when the market (with other foodie delights) is in full swing. There’s often a queue down the street of a Friday, in a reassuring, ‘traditional’ kind of fashion.

  6. Daniel Young says:

    Jessica – I love the vintage look of Fryer’s Delight but the fish I had there very recently and I can tell you the off-putting aroma extends to the fish itself. I was poor in most respects. I’ll have to try Traditional Plaice on Leather Lane. Thanks for the tip.

  7. Andrew says:

    Sadly the standard is really variable and the young fryer in the trilby is very chippy. I have had very good haddock but that they cook to order.

  8. Daniel says:

    Thanks for the education, Andrew: I knew ‘chippy’ was a word for fish & chip shop but didn’t know it could also meant touchy and irritable. I’ve had good fish at Fish Bone once before so I am not surprised by your report. Next time I’ll order haddock AND insist it be fried to order, not that I’m planning a next time…

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