My father had told me when I was young that the best way of locating a good fish and chip shop was to follow your nose, and it's generally proved to be sound advice.
It was by complete accident that I found myself in Ladywell at lunchtime anyway - I was just returning from a meeting in Croydon in the morning and the train didn't stop where I wanted it to. Ladywell is a hotbed of inconvenience like that. Last time I was there it was only because they terminated a bus early. Bastards.
And workday lunchtime is hardly the standard window for eating fish and chips, is it? Indeed I can't actually remember ever having done so previously, preferring my battered haddock on a day out to the seaside, or late in the evening after a few pints - not that many proper chippies stay open after closing time these days.
But I was hungry and it smelt good, so the Village Fish Bar for lunch it was.
Does the taste live up to the aroma?I took the option of waiting for them to freshly cook a Haddock, rather than succumbing to the cod on display - another bit of Dad's chip shop advice, that - and it proved worthwhile waiting the ten minutes or so it took to cook it.
|Nothing fishy about the unassuming frontage|
The chips were excellent - proper chunky buggers for the most part with a few crispy end pieces for good measure.
It's not the cheapest chippie in London, but not too horrendous, given that Haddock and regular chips, a pickled gherkin and a tin of Ginger Ale set me back around £8.50, and filled me up rather more comprehensively than I would normally deem acceptable at lunchtime.
The condiments are crap, of course, but then condiments always are in chippies. No matter how good the food is, they'll always offer to sprinkle on stuff that would be more at home in a laboratory.
My addition to my fathers words of wisdom would be to eschew the offer of table salt and 'non-brewed condiment', and take your fish and chips home if at all possible, where you can use sea salt, real malt vinegar, and a good tartare sauce.
Whatever kind of day I had envisaged when I got up this morning, I certainly wasn't expecting to encounter the best fish and chips I've had for some time, and the best I've had in London for years.
|Best Fish Bar in the world?|
Aside from having to use the sub-standard condiments, I thought it was pretty damn good, but the wife didn't enjoy it much and was then horribly ill for the next few days. I'd blame the fake vinegar, but she doesn't have vinegar, so I'll blame the fact that she went for the cod, and had ketchup with it, both of which are crimes against fish and chips in my book.
As Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall keeps reminding us, cod is over-fished but I also think that it's overrated. Much better to go with Haddock, and it would be nice if more chippies took up Hugh's suggestion of Pouting which is more interesting, less vulnerable and less expensive.
Maybe I'll suggest it if I ever become established as a regular customer at the Village Fish Bar, because on today's showing, I probably will!
Where to find it...Village Fish Bar
52 Ladywell Road
SE13 7UZ (map)