Last night I paid my second visit in a month to a fish and chip restaurant in south-east London that has received rave reviews even though on my previous visit I had been underwhelmed by both the fish (the batter wasn’t crispy and the haddock was so so) and the chips (pale instead of golden and not crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, as they should be).
I had broken one of my golden rules of not going to a place that sold fish and chips along with items on the menu such as burgers, fried chicken and Jamaican patties. Why do this? If you set out to serve fish and chips, stick to fish and seafood, and cook them perfectly.
But, sadly, the majority of fish and chip shops or restaurants don’t do this. Fish and chips just feels like one of many items, not something special, which is what it should be. I’m not bothered what some people say about chicken tikka masala, this is our national dish.
The reason I decided to give the place in south-east London a second go was because of the friendly staff and friendly owner. Yet I was still troubled by the number of customers who proclaimed that it served the best fish and chips in London. Perhaps I had caught it on a bad night, I concluded.
So last night I had high expectations when I placed my order. They soon started to disappear when my plate was put down in front of me. True, the haddock was large, but the chips looked just as pale as before. In fact, this time they were worse, because someone hadn’t bothered to cut out the green bits, which leave a bitter taste in the mouth. As for the haddock, it was no better than before and this time, the batter was soggy.
After I had paid and was leaving, the owner called to me. ‘I see, you haven’t eaten much,’ he said.
‘No…I like my chips crispy on the outside and soft inside…And I prefer crispy batter,’ I replied.
‘Well, you know, I only buy the best quality potatoes, but this is the wrong time of the year,’ he said.
‘Ah, I see,’ I said, thinking the poor quality of the chips was to do with the way they had been cooked, not the potatoes.
‘Next time when you come, they will be better,’ he said cheerfully.
‘Okay,’ I said, and went on my way.
I liked the owner and he seemed to genuinely want his customers to have a good experience. I could see he was proud of his restaurant, and I admire that. But the truth is that while people might tell him online he’s serving great fish and chips, he’s not. Not by my book anyway.
This just goes to show that over 1,000 people on Trip Advisor can be wrong.