There are many tests that can guarantee the quality of a gentleman’s standing: can they quote from Trading Places at will? Do they like association football? Have they got a battered Patrick breakdancing jacket in their wardrobe? We could go on… However, there is only one fool proof assurance of a fellow’s temperament: do they consider fish and chips the pinnacle of culinary sophistication?
Fish and chips is the meal that puts the great into Great Britain. Since coming into fashion in the 1860s it has sustained us through two world wars (the meal was famously exempt from rationing in both conflicts).
We’ve tested every* single one of the nation’s 10,500 chip shops and restaurants and feel fully qualified to name the nation’s best 20. Here you go. We’re now off to have a gastric band fitted…
The Scallop Shell, 22 Monmouth Place, Bath, Somerset BA1 2AY
Having opened in Bath last year (not far from the Roman Baths), The Scallop Shell has taken the picturesque city’s food scene by the short and curlies. Chef Gary Rosser does some incredible things with virginal white cod and haddock. As such, prices aren’t cheap, but once you’ve tucked in to its hearty fare surrounded by the restaurant’s beguiling mix of the industrial and the nautical, you’ll be gladly parting with your hard-earned. No wonder it has just been named the UK’s number one chippy at The National Fish and Chip Awards.
Fish and Chips at 149, 149 Marton Road, Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire YO16 7DJ
Fish and Chips at 149 might be located on an unremarkable street in East Yorkshire, but there’s nothing unassuming about the fare inside. This is one of the best chippies in the country (and has the awards to prove it). The batter (from beef dripping, natch) is crispier than a bag of Walker’s, the chips are a potent mix of crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside and the homemade mushy peas retain their pea-like shape while taking on board that glorious puree.
Frankie’s Fish & Chips, Brae, Shetland, Shetland Islands ZE2 9QJ
Since opening in 2008, Britain’s most northerly fish and chip shop – located on the shores of the Busta Voe – has become something of a jewel in the Shetland Islands’ crown. This culminated with Frankie’s being named the UK’s best chip shop in the National Fish & Chip Awards last year. If that’s not reason enough to make the trek to the Shetland Islands we don’t know what is.
Fish House, 128 Lauriston Rd, London E9 7LH
Thanks to its East London location and stylish interior some trendy foodies (the insufferable ones at least) will bang on about Fish House’s bold retro chic. Codswallop (pardon the pun). Fish House is included here because its battered cod or haddock (fresh from Billingsgate Market) demands it. There’s fine dining options too, but, seriously, stick to the original.
Two Steps, 249 Sharrowvale Road, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S11 8ZE
With 120 years-worth of battered experience (in this case a very good thing) we certainly bow down to Sheffield’s best chippie. Or rather we look up, because Two Steps name is affectionately taken from the two steps leading up to the chip shop door – so as to distinguish it from its rival across the road. Remember to ask for some Henderson’s (or Hendo’s if you want to blend in) Relish – a Sheffield delicacy.
Maggie’s, Fishmarket Road, Rock-A-Nore Rd, Hastings, East Sussex TN34 3DW
With a world-renowned fishing fleet (home to Europe’s largest array of beach-launched fishing boats, fact fans) on its doorstep, it’s unsurprising to find a host of mouth-watering fish and chip shops in Hastings. The best though is perhaps its most humble. Located above the Hastings Fishmarket is Maggie’s. You’ll know it by the permanently placed Fully Booked sign outside.
Kerbisher & Malt, 164 Shepherd’s Bush Road, London W6 7PB
Trust a London establishment to put a thoroughly modern twist (you have to try its homemade lemon mayonnaise) on the traditional fish and chip shop. But, frankly, when the fish is this tender and the batter so golden and crunchy, we’re not complaining. And don’t just take our word for it, Heston Blumenthal has raved about K&M’s mesmerising work too. It opened its first restaurant in Brook Green in 2011 – four others have since sprung up across the capital. It even brews its own pale ale – top hipster credentials.
The Smokehouse, 1-2 Back Street, Folkestone, Kent CT19 6NN
The regeneration of Folkestone continues apace with chef Mark Sargeant’s modern fish and chip shop. Housed in a 150-year-old smokehouse (hence the name) overlooking the harbour, Sargeant has created a wonderful hymn to Britain’s greatest dish. Alongside the traditional food on offer – chips cooked in beef dripping, yes, and pickled eggs that’ll knock your socks off – there are mouth-watering contemporary twists such as salt and pepper squid and mussel popcorn.
French’s Fish and Chips, 10 The Quay, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk NR23 1AH
Sitting on a harbour wall and gazing out to sea while devouring a bag of fish and chips is a British birthright. Which makes a trip to French’s in Norfolk a must – idyllic scenery and sumptuous food go hand-in-hand. With nearly 100 years experience, this family run business must be doing something right.
Upton Chippy, 24 High Street, Upton, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire DN21 5NL
When you’ve hit peak fish and chips you’d be a fool to tamper with flaky fish perfection. That’s why Lincolnshire’s Upton Chippy still uses the same batter recipe that its first owner concocted in 1948 and cooks everything in the original coal-fired range – a rarity these days. The combination of fresh fish from Grimsby and locally sourced spuds was a winner back in the 40s and it remains a champion partnership today. No wonder it’s only one of four fish and chip shop takeaways listed in the Good Food Guide.
Trenchers, New Quay Road, Whitby, North Yorkshire YO21 1DH
Whitby in north Yorkshire is a Mecca for fish and chip devotees, and the award-winning Trenchers is the best of the lot. The harbour restaurant serves bountiful plates of fresh, locally caught fish and seafood, but it’s the old classic fish and chips which has made Trenchers name. Best served with bread and butter and a mug of tea. Gastronomic heaven.
Oban Fish and Chips, 116 George St, Oban, Argyll, Scotland PA34 5NT
Oban is rightly famed for two things – its whisky, and its seafood. So after a night on the single malt (or before – we’re not fascists) we advise a visit to the town’s best chippie. After eating at Oban Fish and Chips Rick Stein declared that it was the best fish and chips he had ever tasted.
Seaton’s Fish Bar, 4 Queen Street, Seaton, Devon EX12 2NY
A favourite with locals and DFLs (Down From London) alike, Seaton’s eponymously titled Fish Bar is a must. The freshly cooked fish with the lightest and crunchiest batter pulls in the fish and chip shop acolytes and keeps them coming back. Eat in, or take them away and scoff them on the beach.
Colmans, South Shields, 182-186 Ocean Road, South Shields, Tyne and Wear NE33 2JQ
A proper family-owned chippy that has been pulling in the crowds in South Shields for 90 years. Not only does Colmans regularly pull in the awards – it was named the UK’s best at the National Fish & Chip Awards in 2011 – but it’s also been dubbed an eco chippy thanks to serving wild fish from sustainable grounds and sending its waste fat to be converted into bio-fuel. A big fave with famous folk too - David Milliband, Peter Mandelson, Mary Portas, Alison Steadman and Patrick Stewart are among those to pay a visit.
Cobo Fish Bar, Cobo Coast Road, Guernsey GY5 7HB
Chippies, by and large, aren’t much to look at. And Guernsey’s Cobo Fish Bar is no exception. So while the corrugated iron shack might not scream fantastic fish, the reality is just that. The fish from the Channel Islands is acknowledged as among the finest in the UK. And the view out to Cobo Bay is spectacular.
Steel’s Corner House, 10-12 Market St, Cleethorpes, North East Lincolnshire DN35 8LY
Steel’s might have a logo that unfortunately brings to mind the nation’s most disreputable sports shop (have a look), but make no mistake; this is a North East institution. The portions are as gargantuan as its reputation. No effort has been spared to keep the décor comfortingly 70s chic, but that just means the flaky fish, crispy batter and melt-in-the-mouth chips are given all the attention they deserve.
No. 1 Cromer, Cromer, Norfolk
Chef Galton Blackiston knows a thing or seven about top quality food – he’s the owner of the Michelin-starred Morston Hall after all. And he’s brought all his culinary know-how to No. 1 Cromer. Since opening in 2013, No. 1 has thrilled locals and holidaymakers thanks to its magical food and equally spectacular views out to Cromer Pier and beyond.
Hanbury’s Famous Fish and Chips, Princes Street, Babbacombe, Torquay, Devon TQ1 3LW
No trip to the English Riviera is complete without a visit to the family-run Hanbury’s. Pleasingly, two choices are available – eat in the charming restaurant (replete with an original door from Dartmoor Prison), or pop next door to the takeaway, order your sustainable cod or haddock and stroll down to the beach and take in the views over Lyme Bay. Both options are winners.
The Golden Galleon, 137 High St, Aldeburgh, Suffolk IP15 5AR
Fresh, fried to order, East Coast fish, the best locally sourced potatoes and a view out to the sea – if that notable Danish brewery did fish and chip shops it would probably look a lot like The Golden Galleon. The sister restaurant to the town’s feted Aldeburgh Fish and Chip Shop, The Golden Galleon is a favourite of food critic Giles Coren.
The Boundary, 64 High St, Market Deeping, Lincolnshire PE6 8EB
If you’re looking for a reason to visit – and you were, right? – let it be known that the market town has not one, but two, award-winning chippies. Linfords is one, but for our money (and we’re paying) The Boundary is the best by a nose – or should that be scrap? In any case, when you’re in town get yourself down to The Boundary, take a pew in its licensed restaurant overlooking the River Welland and indulge. You won’t regret it.