Monday, 15 November 2010

By George they're good

'Soon I shall buy a mighty yacht'
In terms of living, the importance of having a good chippy near your gaff can't be overstated - that's one that does good fish and good chips, as well as the necessary extras - gravy, curry sauce, and for the show-off, beans. This is big stuff - important enough to be included in estate agents' listings.
In London, or at least the bits I've lived in, finding a good chippy has always been a problem - there's any number of chineses, curry gaffs and Nantucket fried chicken outlets, but the dedicated chippy is a trickier blighter to find. There was a belter by London Bridge station for a few years, on Borough High Street. It was expensive but excellent, and just when it had been there long enough to be incorporated into evening plans, it was snatched from us. But while its flame burned, it burned bright and true.
By far the best chippy I've found in the capital is George's on Essex Road, Islington. It is - or at least was, I've not been in for years as I don't live round there now - sensational. He sometimes used to have small fish - what I called a 'hand fish' because it was the right size to hold and eat from your hand, as one might a lolly ice. It was a masterclass in batter construction, always just right - nice and crispy with soft, white fish beneath. And all for a quid! 
The chips at George's were always, a-l-w-a-y-s, dead on too. This is something often overlooked - ludicrous when you look at what we call them, chippies (or chippohs, if you're in Warrington). 
There's one I frequent now - on Lee High Road opposite the Swan pub - which does sensational fish. They make it to order so there's none of it sitting around winking at you in that chippy version of an Amsterdam window where fish, pies and 'sausages' squat vying for attention. Here it's made fresh and lovingly packed into a cardboard container with a wedge of lemon. Beautiful. But the chips never quite cut it - they're anaemic - and you have to ask for them well done if you want  them decent.
Up the hill in snooty Blackheath there's a chippy opposite the station, and while it's good, it's mad expensive. No wonder the bugger in the picture above is looking so happy - they're charging just shy of £2 for chips (you can see the bag being handed over on the left of the pic, it’s sneaking out from the customer’s coat sleeve). And asking – nay demanding – £1.60 for a sausage! I've got it in my head its £1.80 a bag and in the lack of a counter-argument I'm going with this, and as you can see from the picture below of the queue this bommy night, it's packing them in. AND Ketchup's extra. Shame on you sir! 

Some millionaires queue for chips

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