Restaurant review: The Fish and Chip Shop, Islington, N1

The battered haddock is a crispy treat

The battered haddock is a crispy treat - Credit: Archant

It’s a bit of a jump from some of the most celebrated restaurants in the city to the humble fish and chip shop, but that’s exactly what Des McDonald, former chief exec of several restaurants – including The Ivy – has done.

Not that this is your greasy, wrapped in newspaper, dowsed in vinegar Saturday night chippy. Not on your nelly.

The fish is battered with Camden beer, the chips are double fried in rapeseed oil, and a load of hand-made sauces are available to compliment your salt and vinegar.

And there’s more refined seafood fare to boot; oysters, scallops, lobster – the Fish and Chip Shop runs a gauntlet between drunk takeaway and fine-dining.

In the main it works. Perched on a barstool to eat (not the comfiest) we decided to tackle a bit of both.

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Starting with the crisp, fresh oysters – doesn’t get much posher than that; although the white wine was a touch warm served in a decidedly functional tumbler.

Then an old-fashioned prawn cocktail; simple but effective, a few leaves, lashings of piquant dressing and, most importantly, a big helping of huge, juicy prawns.

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So far so good – then came the grilled lemon sole. One of the most expensive thing on the menu, it was a touch undercooked and a bit of a let down, although the tarragon butter was lovely.

Significantly better was the haddock – crunchy batter and firm flakes of fish took me back to my childhood.

The sides were mixed; the chips were very nice, but a bit slim, not the chunky, time-honoured British chips we expected. The mushy peas were also a bit unexpected, very minty. The curry sauce was nice enough, if a tad on the sweet side.

The puddings were straightforward and well-executed – our knickerbocker glory was eye-popping – while the cocktails were inventive and very good.

You could accuse the Fish and Chip shop of trying to be too many things at once, but I think it’s a great idea which will do well.

For my preference the “chippy” menu should be kept as traditional as possible (leave the experimenting to the upmarket food) but with BYOB nights and live music planned, expect it to carve it’s won niche in Upper Street’s bustling bar and restaurant scene.

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