Top 10 Fish and Chips in London

Top 10 Fish and Chips in London
illustration by Mengsel
10. Seafresh
9. Fish House
8. Masters Super Fish
7. Poppies
6. Oliver's Fish & Chips
5. Sea Shell of Lisson Gove
4. Kerbisher & Malt
3. The Fish House of Notting Hill
2. Toff's
1. Fish Central

When the batter coats a fresh cod fillet in an even single layer and the frying time and temperature are right the fish effectively steams under its protective sleeve. The glorious result – diagonally sectioned flakes of pearly white cod glistening with moisture – distinguishes my picks for Top 10 Fish and Chips in London.

cod-detail
The ranking reflects my preference for a thin-to-medium-thick batter that envelops the fish, leaving a crisp second skin of golden goodness. But I do understand the appeal of a thicker batter with crunchy puffs, folds, bubbles or splattered bits you can peel easily off with your fingers. This scrappy ritual is best performed at Kerbisher & Malt, Oliver’s and Fish House.

To be a contender for Top 10 Fish and Chips in London a restaurant has to serve fish and chips throughout the week, for takeaway as well as eating in, and it needs to satisfy two benchmarks:

  • Fresh fish too hot to eat straight away but too good not to.
  • Fish as delectable detached from its batter as is the batter detached from its fish.

Sadly, most London’s fish and chip shops fail the freshness taste. All too often the fish is neither fresh from the sea nor fresh out of the fryer. I now refuse any cooked fish on view in the display cabinets, withering under the heat lamps for more than a few minutes.  You should do the same. At the very best chippies you don’t even need to ask.

To compile this list and for the sake of a direct comparison I ordered only cod. I’m not suggesting you do the same. If you prefer haddock order haddock.

The Top 10 Fish and Chips in London

chip-fork-top-10

1)   Fish Central
2)   Toff’s
3)   The Fish House of Notting Hill
4)   Kerbisher & Malt
5)   Sea Shell of Lisson Grove
6)   Oliver’s Fish & Chips
7)   Poppies
8)   Masters Super Fish
9)   Fish House
10) Seafresh

 


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About Daniel

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

Comments

  1. Poppies is just great. Great fish & chips and great service. Love the waitresses 50’s style dresses too :-)

  2. Leanne says:

    Ah… I knew Toff’s had to be fairly well rated on this list! They are excellent.

    Quite like Seafresh too, though when I visited the new branch of Poppies in Camden I wasn’t too impressed.

    Fish Central was an old haunt of mine when I lived in the area 3 years ago. Glad to see they’re still going strong!

  3. Andy says:

    Didn’t realise that Boris had banned F&C from s’arf London …

  4. Gina Cotton says:

    I disagree re Poppies.. we went to the new Camden branch a couple of weeks ago, we ordered 2 pieces of Cod, one was not cod and the other was undercooked! I contacted them to let them know and they have not responded. Definitely wont be back, but will try some of the others on your list!

  5. After reading your recommendation of Fish Central last week I thought it was about time I tried it. I’ve lived in the area nearly 7 years and never tried it.
    I’m pleased to report it was just as good as you said. My only worry now is how often I will eating at Fish Central and what it will do for my waistline.

  6. Daniel Walker says:

    Did you try Rock & Sole Plaice in Covent Garden? How did it compare to the above? That had always been my uneducated benchmark (most local chippies are significantly worse)

  7. Meg says:

    I work by Gigs and I have to say they’re not a patch on Fishy Business in Brockley, South East London. Did you venture very far into South London for this review?

  8. @Gastro1 says:

    Daniel when you say

    “Fresh fish too hot to eat straight away but too good not to.”

    You actually mean freshly fried as opposed to using fresh as opposed to frozen fish , is that correct.

    If you mean Fresh as opposed to frozen then it would be very difficult to come up with a list , non ?

    Great job though this is the best list I have seen to date !

  9. Tony Gelatoni says:

    Good list. Toffs and Kerbisher and Malt in my top three. Suggest. you pay Two Brothers in Finchley Central a visit next time you venture near Toffs.

  10. Jenn says:

    Can you add allergy notes? So many fish and chips places use nut oils and given that I’m deathly allergic, I’ve only had fish and chips in my work canteen since I moved to the UK. Took my sister to poppies when she visited (she liked it) but I couldn’t eat there for the reason mentioned :(

  11. jeffrey says:

    Wow. Just went to Fish Central for the 1st. The cod was moist and light as a feather while the crust was crunchy and dry on top. At 1st I thought the bottom was soggy but realized it was just the juiciness of the fish seeping through creating multiple textures.

    My two favorites are Poppies and Masters Superfish. I need to go back to pick the best of the three! Thanks Daniel.

  12. DivvyBoy says:

    Your review is interesting, but you seem to be missing 50% of the meal.

    The clue is in the name – Fish ‘& Chips’.

    You haven’t mentioned the humble chip at all. The best chips make a decent bit of fish worthy of any Michelin star meal. The chip is the straight man to the comic genius.

    Too many chip shops rely on frozen or pre-prepared chips. One of your top 10 has the nerve to put a picture of frozen chips on its menu. For that reason alone, I’ll never darken their doorstep.

    Without a brilliant chip, Fish & Chips is merely Fish.

    Maybe you should try your top 10 again with both eyes open?

  13. Tony says:

    Sutton & Sons in Stoke Newington High Street for me has to be one of the best fish and chips shops in England, not only London. I’ve eaten in many across the country and a few in this great top 10 compiled by this site and I have to say that the atmosphere on a friday night and the real taste of fried or grilled fish at Sutton & Sons is hard to beat. Add to that the great staff they have there that are very attentive. Thanks for this top 10 chaps! Couldn’t believe it when 4 of my favourites turned up on your list… Shows I wasn’t far wrong apart from Sutton & Sons deserving at least a top 5 place in my opinion. But that is only an opinion at the end of the day.

  14. Lou says:

    Did the Fish Central know you were a food critic ? I used to go in there regulary for many years but the last couple of years the standard has gone down. Kennedys in Goswell Road or Whitecross street is much better

  15. Daniel says:

    Lou – Did they know in advance I was a critic? No, but I think by the third visit, when I turned up with a video camera they began to suspect something. Sorry, couldn’t disagree with you more about Kennedy’s. I’ve tried both locations and didn’t care for either. My lunch at Whitecross Street Kennedy’s was my worst experience in the process of putting together this list.

  16. Daniel says:

    Thanks, Tony. I tried Two Brothers once and wasn’t overly impressed. Also got the feeling the regulars were being treated a lot better than me.

  17. Daniel says:

    Meg – I tried and liked Fishy Business earlier this month but didn’t think it was better than any of these.

  18. Daniel says:

    Daniel – I did try The Rock & Sole Plaice, although not recently. This places are better.

  19. Daniel says:

    Gina, You’re the second to report disappointment with the fish at Poppies’ Camden branch. I need to investigate. Thanks for the alert.

  20. Daniel says:

    Fair point, Andy. Unfortunately amongst the South London chippies I tried only Masters Super Fish made the cut. What gems did I miss? Any suggestions or recommendations?

  21. Woody says:

    The Catch on chiswick high road is superb. Fresh fish, freshly cooked, great chips and huge portions. Made me fall in love with f&c all over again.

  22. Daniel says:

    Jenn – You are right to be concerned: Most of the chippies on this top 10 use groundnut oil. I know that Kerbisher & Malt and Fish Shop use vegetable oils, not nut oils. Will have to check with the others. Regardless, don’t take my word for it. Policies and practices change. You can’t be too careful.

  23. Daniel says:

    Woody, I’ve not tried The Catch. Thanks for tip. I must go.

  24. stephanie gray says:

    Have you tried Oliver’s on Haverstock Hill, NW3? Apart from Fish Central they serve the best fish and chips I’ve eaten in London. I’d love to know what you think…

  25. Daniel says:

    Stephanie, I’ve not tried Oliver’s and must, if not right away. I’m sure you’ll understand I need a short break from fish & chips :) Thanks for the reco.

  26. Jamie Kitson says:

    I haven’t been for a few years now, but when I tried Toff’s after a few recommendations I was sorely disappointed, maybe I should give it another chance.

  27. Robin says:

    You should try Nautilus in West Hampstead if you haven’t already. It’s matzo meal though, just so you know in advance!

  28. Gina says:

    Daniel, Just to let you know, a couple of weeks later, Poppies have emailed to ask us back. Will let you know, if we we go back, what its like. I quite like the idea of music with fish and chips so may will give it another chance now.

  29. Daniel says:

    Jamie – Not sure what to advise you. I’ve been to Toffs for one lunch and two dinners and was happy with fish each time.

  30. lydia says:

    The Fish Club St John’s Hill SW11 1TQ is in my opinion the best in London. Perhaps you have not ventured South of the river?

  31. Daniel says:

    Lydia, I have tried The Fish Club. Its chips are the crispest of any chippy I’ve tried in London. I like my fish but did not rate it as highly on the others on the list. But on your larger point, yes, I need to get around South London more.

  32. John says:

    Having walked past Gigs several hundred times since I last ate there in the late 80s, I was surprised to see it make this list. I thought maybe it warranted a revisit so today we gave it a try purely based on this list and the idea that these places on your top ten serve freshly cooked fish.

    Big mistake. Fish came from the take away section next door where it had been sitting for some time, was dry, overcooked and the whole atmosphere of the place entirely soulless. When the waitress asked how the meal was (we were literally the only customers) there was no point in complaining. If these owners don’t know the difference between good and bad food service there really is no point in wasting breath on them. Why pay to eat dried up reheated food and bland limp chips?

  33. Mat says:

    Nice overview Daniel and some great chippies listed. Allow me to throw a different slant, one from my field of expertise. As we all know sustainability is still the buzz word and is foolishly used by many as a sales tool. Most have little or no understanding of its true meaning when directly associated with fish stock biomass. With this in mind one would like to think fish and chip shops may, or even should, lead the way in promoting such information even with just lip service as most restaurants currently do.

    Of the 10 named in your blog only 8 have websites of which only 3 give any time to the term sustainable. The Fish House of Notting Hill briefly claims ‘responsibly sourced from sustainable stocks’. They have one MCS red 5 listed fish to avoid and a number of species not deemed sustainable on their menu. Sutton’s claim ‘sustainably sourced’ but have 3 MCS red 5 listed fish to avoid which is very poor, in fact the worst I’ve seen! They have other offers that are currently not deemed sustainable. The fish House offers the most comprehensive insight into its sourcing policy but unfortunately again 2 MCS red 5 listed fish to avoid a a few other areas of concern. One may assume their own insight is not understood by its writer?

    It’s very easy with words to make suitability claims but these very few examples show, I hope, how the public are no closer to understanding what they are eating. Unfortunately on most occasions those serving the fish have very little understanding of this subject and they are assisted in this confusion by the majority of seafood wholesales who also have either no understanding or no wish to understand.

    I realise your article was about taste so I apologise for moving away from the subject area but I thought it may be of interest to you and your readers. You know where I am on twitter if you want to delve into this further

  34. Lucy smythe says:

    This article makes a very interesting read but not when your feeling peckish! i live in sevenoaks but when im shopping in bluewater i always pop to a great fish and chips takeaway in Dartford Kent, Finest fish shop and certainly lives up to the name. All fish is only cooked to order even chips are fryed fresh too. The cod is lovely just the right amount of batter and a crispy golden colour u can ask for a choice if prefer skinless or cooked well done. Staff are very freindly even ask if you would like cup of tea whilst you wait! ( its not a cafe ).worth the visit. Plus they do few indian snacks all homemade especially a must try the pakoras…delicous!

  35. Lucy smythe says:

    forgot to mention they use groundnut oil. Can tell the difference between vegetable oil and nut, but not great if suffer from a severe nut allergy like my Father.

  36. jon says:

    Sustainable Mat – thanks for being such an interminable bore like most eco-loons.

  37. Mat says:

    Haha, lovely stuff Jon. I’m possibly as far removed from an eco-loon as there is. I’m a fisheries scientist who understands and enjoys talking about the subject. Maybe my points are not for people that have little interest in education, however, many are interested in learning about the subject. May I suggest in future there is no need to be so rude, just don’t read the bits you don’t care about xx

  38. colum lipper says:

    regarding the fish club in battersea..that is the most un-fish n chip shop in sarf london,have you seen their video..no mention of fish n chips..only farty arty foods..give it a break ,keep to proper fish n chips…init

  39. M.B. Hutchinson says:

    I lived in Islington for 10 years ending in 1996, only a few blocks from the Upper Street Fish Shop, the best! I’ll be back this winter, and tried to look it up but found only “The Fish Shop” on Upper Street. What a disappointment! I’ve dreamed of the old USFS’s fabulous cod & quite good chips, and I see that the new place (aside from being on the wrong side of the street) is a posh take on a fish shop. Oh, well.

  40. Rachel says:

    Agree The Catch in Chiswick is very good!
    I’m sorry you’re recommending Kerbisher and Malt, though. If you try to eat there frequently (I live nearby) you’ll find it so unreliable you’ll never want to risk it. On their now-infrequent good days their fish chips are the best I’ve ever eaten outside Yorkshire. Usually, though, they’re just OK, sometimes very bad indeed. On my last visit, with my son, another enthusiast of the genre, we got takeaway and actually threw half of it away.

  41. lee says:

    You cannot get a nut allergy reaction from ground nut oil (nut oil)

  42. arran says:

    Happy days just off algate east is the best ive had. Poppies is awful!

  43. Stuart says:

    Forcing myself to stop trying the Top 10 Burgers, I went to Fish Central for the first time last week.

    I loved the restaurant and the service and the fish was exceptional – my friend and I had cod & haddock to compare and contrast.

    For me the major disappointment was the chips – as someone else commented they go hand in hand so both should be right. The fish was so good and the chips were just “meh”. I can’t say I’ve ever found a F&C shop in London that gets both spot on. I would go back to Fish Central, so I consider this a good recommendation.

    But if this is really the best that London can do, there is scope for someone to do better.

    See you at the LBBFINAL

  44. Chris says:

    North Sea fish in Kings Cross is famous and so so so good how are they not on the list?

  45. Max says:

    HOOK CAMDEN should really be top of this list. Go there and rewrite this article…

  46. Daniel says:

    I’ve been, Max. Very promising, with great dips and chips, but not yet where it needs to be.

  47. hanif says:

    Not as trendy as a lot of the places above and not in the centre of London but when I moved to west London about 10 years ago I discovered Mario’s in Isleworth. Daniel if you are really searching for proper fish and chips you have to try them out. The reason j think I love their food is that not only is their batter beautiful and crispy, and the the fish lovely and tasty, it’s as one of the earlier posts mentioned, they know how to do chips, proper fish and chip shop chips. I’ve eaten at poppies in Spitalfields, i thought it was perfect for tourists, great Devon, Kennedy and òlleys Ard both overpriced, but none of them make chip shop chips. If I want crispy on the outside chips I can go McDonald’s, but for stodgy, soft chips and great fish, try Mario’s in Isleworth (and you’ll got a fair amount of change from a £10 note which a lot of these new ‘traditional’ chippies won’t do)

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