The Worst Fish and Chips in London

I’ve never had, nor do I never expect to ever have again, an order of cod and chips as sad as the one served to me today at Kennedy’s on Whitecross Street. Certainly not at a London restaurant dedicated to fish and chips.

Under a splatter batter the thin fillet had no flakes, no fish flavour, no steam, no moisture. The chips were limp. I took a second bite of the fish and a second chip, just to be sure. I put my fork and knife down, left most of my £8.75 order at the table, paid at the counter and looked around to see if there was any reaction. As there was none, apart from maybe an odd look my way, I slowly stepped out of the restaurant and then rushed home to write this post.

Ten minutes from Kennedy’s I began to have doubts. Worst fish and chips in London? These kinds of distinctions can be awarded hastily. You make an exciting discovery and in your eagerness to be fast and first you expostulate prematurely. A branch of a popular chippy on Goswell Road, this Kennedy’s was so new it didn’t even have a permanent sign yet.

I walked back to the scene of the crime. The dining room was nearly empty of customers. As I sauntered to the counter to pose a question the three servers eyed me with suspicion.

“Did anyone notice that I left my entire order on the table?

“Yes, we did,” replied one server, “but then you walked out.”

“Weren’t you curious? Didn’t you wonder why someone would do that?

“So,” she said, “what’s your problem?”

I didn’t have an answer for that. I walked out with a single thought: If Kennedy’s keeps this up they might not be needing a permanent sign.

About Daniel

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

Comments

  1. James L says:

    Shame because Kennedy’s on Goswell Rd is (I think) first class, both food and service. Having said that, the takeaway section staff are grumpy to say the least.

  2. Daniel Young says:

    James – I’ve been to Kennedy’s on Goswell Rd and didn’t think the fish was anything special. But I have seen the crowds on weekends and thought it might be worth a second look.

  3. Chris Green says:

    As is already being discussed on Twitter, the overall standard of shop Fish & chips in the capital is pretty poor, and if anything is getting worse :(

    As a kid growing up in St Johns Wood in the 80s and very early 90s, I had two nearby Fish & chip shops that were, at the time, biblically good.

    First was the Sea Shell on Lisson Grove – a chip shop so good that every evening there would be a queue out the door and down the street and the place was always spotless. Princess Diana would regularly come down of an evening with her Protection Squad officers in tow for a crafty fish supper (as a kid, seeing a real Princess popping into a chippy was insane).

    I moved away from St Johns Wood in 1992. I went back to the Seashell a few years ago. It was awful – Fish was flavourless mush, chips undercooked and equally flavourless. No queues, dirty shop and rude staff.

    The back-up was Micky’s in the Edgware Road. a chippy even praised by Heston Blumenthal. Very good back in the 80s, but again I’ve revisited in recent years and it’s below average. The decline is nowhere near as bad as the Sea Shell, but it’s a long way from it’s heyday.

    As for today. the chip shop by the office is disgusting, and local chip shops in West Drayton are very average (but do deliver, which is handy).

    North of the border, we’ve had amazing fish and chips in Edinburgh, with Cod the size of a whale!

  4. Sakhr says:

    Masters, Waterloo. Mustard cod (I think) is the best F&C i’ve had in London (but that’s not saying much).

  5. Big Fat Dan says:

    Living in Kent I’m lucky enough to live 40 minutes from the coast and a hour away from London, and you just can’t beat Fish n Chips by the coast, especially in decent fishing towns like Whitsable and Folkestone, maybe it’s the whole of experiences of the sea air, the nice view of the coastline and fighting off the seagulls for the last bit crispy batter that has falling off your cod that you refuse to give up. I have had some nice fish n chips in London, but for me, I would happily drive in the other direction for fish n chips.

  6. Kyle says:

    I know it isn’t London, but if you’re after the very best fish & chips Chez Fred of Westbourne, Dorset is simply amazing.

  7. Rich says:

    The best chip shops in London have always been in the East End, there is your first problem. My former fail-safe option when living in the area, was Gary’s Fish Bar on Roman Road – I haven’t been for a couple of years, but they were outstanding.

    I now drive all the way from North West London to Becontree in Dagenham for my fish and chips fix – the Golden Fish is in a bit of a slum, but they make the best fish and chips I have ever had, and have been there for as long as I can remember.

    http://www.thegoldenfish.co.uk

  8. Patrick Carpenter says:

    The Ashvale in Aberdeen is the place; ask for the Ashvale Whale and if you can finish it you get a free jam rolypoly (and a certificate). Otherwise, I’ve had great fish and chips in the Cape (even wrapped in fake Sun newspaper). Does the chippy in Dalston still exist?

  9. Melissa says:

    The Golden Hind in Marylbone is the best chipshop I have been to in London and Faulkners in Dalston used to be very good but I havent been for a long time

  10. Bron says:

    That shop replaces a former chippy that was also crap. Maybe they just changed the sign? As a Londoner the best F&C I’ve had this year was definitely Aldeburgh!

  11. Toby says:

    In the City of London area I have found that Alexander’s https://plus.google.com/113709990781815037554 is one of the best in the area and would recommend them. I was hoping this new Kennedy’s was going to be better, all I can say it that it is better that the one it replaced.

  12. Ben says:

    I almost loathe to share it as I don’t want to face huge crowds but for me, Sutton & Sons is the best fish and chips in London by a distance.

  13. Matthew says:

    I doubt these are the worst in London. There are some pretty awful chippys out there. So much so that even a decent one is the exception rather than the rule. I think it’s more likely in this case however that you have certain standards and these were not anywhere near met.

    To my mind, fish and chips are so much better when bought near the coast. Maybe it’s to do with bracing yourself against the (frequent) chill, balanced with the greasy warmth of your meal. My favourites are The Fish Plaice in Swanage and Minghellas in South Shields (which was the best I’ve ever had, and I’m confident it won’t be surpassed).

    The worst London fish and chips are ALL of them (including Kennedys in Goswell, which grumpily served me what was essentially a bag of mash) with the exception of the decent North Sea, Fishcoteque, Golden Plaice. It’s criminal how bad some chippys are- how difficult is it to make batter that is crispy and tastes of something, and chips that are not just a steamy greasy pile of mash.

  14. Kathy says:

    Michael’s fish bar in Garratt Lane, Wandsworth is fantastic!

  15. Fleur says:

    I used to work in Aldgate and really miss the only fish and chips I’ve found in London worth returning for: Happy Days, E1 7TP. The haddock in particular is tasty. If you’re in the area it’s worth a visit.

  16. Ben says:

    As if your description wasn’t abundantly clear, the picture looks absolutely awful!

    Lucky enough to have 3 outstanding Fish & Chip shops in close proximity to where I live in Enfield, the bastion of the local area would be George’s Fish Bar on Southbury Road, closely followed by Mary’s Supreme Fish Bar on South Street & the recently opened Fish&Chips@LondonRoad. I can personally attest to their brilliance, great food, friendly service, if you’re ever local give them a try!

  17. Boyden Goode says:

    Interesting review. From your photo, the temporary sign indicates this must have been during its opening week.

    I went last night for the first time (take-away) and thought the cod and chips were excellent. The fish was a good size, flaky, and had a crisp non-greasy batter. The chips were steaming hot, had a good texture and taste, and the portion size was immense. Service was friendly and efficient.

    Fish and chip shops seem to polarise opinion. Personally, I was really pleased with my visit and will be taking friends there tomorrow for a fish supper.

  18. Daniel Young says:

    Boyden – Sounds great and not at all like my experience. I take it from your comment that your order looked nothing like the one you see in my photo. If so I am both pleased and relieved to learn of this dramatic improvement. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  19. Daniel Young says:

    Melissa – I’ve been to Faulkners twice in the last few months. First time the fish was outstanding. Second time it was soggy. I love the look and history of Golden Hind but would say their fish and chips are above average, nothing more.

  20. Boyden Goode says:

    Thanks for your reply Daniel. On my return visit (eat-in in the upstairs restaurant) the food was OK but the service was very poor, which was also my experience at their Goswell Rd branch. As a local, I’ll probably stick to take-away.

  21. Daniel Young says:

    Boyden – If you live in that area you should probably be getting your fish fix at Fish Central. Do you know it?

  22. James says:

    Frankly Daniel, I’m not impressed with your attitude towards the restaurant itself. It sounds like you’re just looking for places to judge for pure pleasure. If you genuinely had an issue with your food, why didn’t you say something to the restaurant rather than trying to get a reaction out of them by giving some sort of silent treatment. How the hell does anyone know what you want or don’t want if you don’t say anything. It’s actually quite pathetic and sounds a lot like you’re just attention-seeking. I’m a regular customer there and have ordered a lot from them. Unlike you, I got a huge, beautifully cooked piece of cod in a nice crispy batter with lovely chips served seperately. The service is wonderful if you don’t act like a prick towards them, I would have reacted the same way if I had to deal with you. I believe that they are good enough for me to actually sit here and defend them because I believe that what you’re doing is purely slander.

  23. masood says:

    Ive grown up in London and have had fish and chips in countless fsh and chip shops in London and along the sea sides, Kennedy’s on goswell road is by far the tastiest chips ive ever had.

  24. Daniel says:

    Masood – Do you work at Kennedy’s? Or are you friends with someone who does? I’ve had the fish and chips there and I don’t even rate it as the best in EC1 postal code, much less London.

  25. Mick Mahoney says:

    Kennedy’s on Goswell Rd is an excellent Fish & Chip shop and is known as such by one and all. Not quite all for we have now you Daniel, God bless the internet eh?

  26. Eddie says:

    I just had takeaway fish and chips from there and the chips were hard and small and full of crunchy bits – not nice, and pricey too. Got told off for attemting to put ketchup on my food. Actually preferred this place when it was the Cosy fish bar -better value then. W’ont be going back.

  27. CharlieO says:

    Moved into the area a couple of months ago and found this fish and chip shop (which also has restaurant attached) so gave the takeaway a try. First visit found the Chips really poor – soggy with a strange aftertaste – and the fish was second rate with poor batter and didn’t taste like cod or haddock! Gave it a another try and whilst the chips were the same the pies and sausages were excellent. Gave it another try and pitched up at 1015 pm a couple of weeks ago to be told by a grumpy member of staff that they close at 10pm. Web site says 1030pm. Tried again last week at 950pm to be told the same….pointed out it wasn’t 10pm but in didn’t matter – and staff member was really grumpy this time. Website still says 1030pm. Right, I thought, one more go and if it’s not right this time I’ll go elsewhere so went in yesterday at 1230 pm and ordered a minced steak and onion pie and as the server got it out with the tongs she burst the crust and put it in the bag with the gravy going everywhere. I asked her if this is what happened and she got grumpy with me saying it wasn’t her fault and what else could she do! Put it in one of the boxes with the chips I suggested, as had been done in my previous visits. I asked for another pie and she got really grumpy so I said forget it and went to go. She asked, really aggressively, what the problem was and I responded that I was going elsewhere as she didn’t care about what she was doing and was rude and aggressive. Don’t believe the website guys; miserable staff and poor fish and chips – they should rebrand themselves as a pie and sausage shop as those were good but they should also invest in training their staff in people skills.

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