Restaurant review: Poppies, Spitalfields, E1

Fish and chips the way they should be done. Pic: Sam Pearce/Square Image

Fish and chips the way they should be done. Pic: Sam Pearce/Square Image - Credit: Archant

Being the best fish and chip shop in the world is some claim - but that was the honour bestowed on east end chippy Poppies at this year’s Fish and Chip Awards.

Strictly speaking the title is best in the UK, but as these isles are the home of the fish supper, it amounts to the same thing.

For proprietor Pat Newland it represents the culmination of a lifetime in the trade, from cutting up newspapers to wrap fish as boy, to working in various shops and finally opening his own place a few years ago.

Right from the start he wanted things done properly and spent £25,000 on 12 tonnes of special newsprint with edible ink. He then decorated the place with memorabilia from his childhood; pictures of the east end, souvenirs and an old jukebox.

Of course, the food had to be spot on. Sustainable fish, award-winning pies, jellied eels, even gravy; a god-send for exiled northerners.

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Naturally we ordered the fried haddock which came in light, crisp, fluffy batter with firm, moist, satisfying fish.

The skate, on the other hand, offered a meaty, flakey flesh with a robust flavour.

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As for the chips, well they were textbook. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, devoid of grease – as was all the food – and very lightly salted.

Our pie was chock-full of beefy flavour, the gravy was thick and rich and the mushy peas were intensely satisfying. It was all very hard to fault.

“It was wonderful to win,” said Mr Newland. “It cemented what I thought, that I could make the perfect fish and chip shop if only I had the right place.

“We were always busy, but this has made things even better. We get customers from all over the world now.

“I always liked the idea that if I had a son I would show him how to run the ideal chippy and that’s what’s happened.

“As far as I’m concerned, you can’t get better than here.”

Except, perhaps, for the new Camden branch that opened recently, offering live music at the weekends. The traditional fish and chip shop is enjoying the dawn of a new era.

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