Long the go-to supper of the workingman, Britain’s ultimate dish shows up in places both posh and plain.
The Bargain: Fryer’s Delight
This canteen-like “caff” in Holborn caters to the most discerning Londoners: cabbies. Join them to chow down on crisp fillets of cod and chunky, finger-size chips sizzled in beef fat for extra sweetness. Don’t miss the golf-ball-size, mouth-puckeringly tart pickled onions. Fish-and-chips for two $20.
The Throwback: Sweetings
Founded in 1889 as a “fish ordinary” (the Victorian name for a chippie), this City landmark is open only for lunch, and only on weekdays. More than a dozen types of fish—try the haddock—are deep-fried to order and come with reassuringly uneven hand-cut fries. Fish-and-chips for two $50.
The Gourmet: Randall & Aubin
In a former Soho meat market, celebrity chef Ed Baines serves traditional fish-and-chips (dished up with mushy peas) as well as an upscale alternative: a grilled half lobster, drizzled with fresh lemon juice, on a mattress of piping-hot fries. 14-16 Brewer St.; 44-20/7287-4447; randallandaubin.com; lobster-and-chips for two $60.
Satisfy guilty cravings at this quick, old-school chippy in Bloomsbury where all the fresh fish and thick, slightly tender chips are fried in savory beef drippings. A longtime favorite of local cabbies, Fryer’s Delight is an unassuming hole-in-the-wall that houses a few small tables atop a black and white tile floor, although most patrons prefer to take their indulgent treat to go. If you do prefer to dine inside, feel free to start a party in the chippy by bringing your own drinks, and don’t overlook the rest of the menu which includes tasty fish cakes and mouthwatering meat pies.
Sweetings has been serving lunch to City folks in the exact same corner spot since 1889. Over the years, not much has changed about the menu or décor (which happens to be old cartoons, photos, and cricketing memorabilia), but that’s what locals love about it. What the restaurant doesn’t do (reservations, dinner, coffee, weekends) it makes up for in what it does do, which is market-fresh fish done simply—on or off the bone, grilled, steamed, or fried. The lunch-only eatery also serves appetizers like crab and prawn cocktails, desserts like steamed syrup pudding, and classic beers in pewter mugs.