The other day, I was mindlessly scrolling on Instagram, avoiding my neatly colour-coded to-do list, when I saw an article that piqued my interest titled, “Pensioner, 107, says secret to his long life is eating fish and chips every week.” Now, like many of you, I am still struggling with what I like to call the January guilt, which essentially means that I feel slightly more guilty than normal whenever I cheat on my ‘new year, new me’ health kick, so to say I felt delighted when I made this discovery would be an understatement. Finally, I could justify my chippy tea cravings and still maintain the moral superiority which, rightfully, goes hand in hand with successfully following a new health regime. As a result of this breakthrough, I am determined to help facilitate other people in their search for a nutritious chippy tea, and so, in this article, I will share with you the top five fish and chip shops in the UK which are definitely worth a visit. Sadly, I have neither the time nor the money to galivant around the country in search of the best-battered cod, so I will be relying mainly upon what we all know is the most reliable source of information on the internet, the opinions of strangers in the form of online reviews. I myself am also not a chippy tea novice, so I will also be chiming in, providing information regarding the appearance, the price, the menu options, and also sharing a couple of my own experiences.
I want to start with my favourite fish and chip shop in the country, Mister Chips, in the charming seaside town of Whitby, North Yorkshire. I have so many happy memories of this chippy, walking down at teatime with my grandad, feeling the often very nippy sea breeze blow against my body and leave my nose with a cold glow as I stepped into the comforting embrace of the chippy, the familiar smell of the batter filling my lungs and the warm air hitting me as my glasses immediately steamed up from the heat. I can tell you from personal experience that these chips are simply perfection which would explain why their website claims that “our takeaway is considered by many to be the best in Whitby, and even the world!” As someone who can’t claim to have experienced the chips of the world, I can’t support their assertion with complete conviction; however, what I can say is that Mister Chips certainly has an impressive clientele, as it proudly displays on its website, their chips have been enjoyed by the likes of Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Jimmy Carr. What is not clear on the website is the price or the menu options, but I can assure you that if it was unreasonably expensive, my family certainly would not have been the devoted customers they are and have been for the past two decades.
Another fish and chip shop which caught my eye was Chez Fred, a family-run fish and chip shop in the coastal village of Westbourne, located just west of Bournemouth. Apart from its delightfully old-fashioned exterior and its charming family background, what really caught my eye about Chez Fred was its fabulous tagline which reads, “salt, vinegar and a little sprinkling of magic.” Isn’t that just delightful and such an insight into their values which are to cook traditional fish and chip grub and make it special. The website displays its extensive menu, which reveals its very reasonable prices, with its prime cod, chips and mushy peas coming to only £5.35. And if all that wasn’t enough for you, like Mister Chips, it also has some celebrity endorsement as apparently local Harry Redknapp is a big fan.
Frazer’s chippy is located in the historic port town of Penzance in west Cornwall, made famous for its pirates and now, its seriously good fish and chips. For the fairly reasonable price of £7.90, you can enjoy fresh cod and chips, which is always sustainably sourced from responsibly managed fisheries. The owners, Pete and Sue Fraser, who, on their website, describe themselves as “connoisseurs or passionate and a little obsessed,” are very concerned with engaging customers with the fishing journey and publish the provenance of their fish every day. Not only this, but if you choose to eat pollock or hake hooked from local day boats, you can watch your freshly caught fish sail into Newlyn, a mile down the coast, via the restaurant’s seafront webcam.
Right in the centre of Durham city lives Bells, where sustainably caught fish is deep fried in the best beef dripping. Bells started off as a small fish shop in Gilesgate but now has five different outlets, offering both sit-in and takeaway services. I can attest to the sit-in dining at Bells being wonderful, with tasty food at reasonable prices being enjoyed in a lovely atmosphere as you experience the charm of the Bailey, the beauty of the market square, and the slight buzz of the water filter in the massive fish tank, the irony of which is enjoyed by all diners including me, despite my slight guilt as I walked past them on my way out having feasted on their relatives.
My final selection is Colman’s Fish and Chips in the coastal town of South Shields, South Tyneside. This chippy has been run by one family for over four generations and sticks to its principles, claiming to have built its reputation “by not compromising on quality or service.” This dedication has clearly paid off, as this chippy has some impressive accolades and an international fanbase. As well as this, Colman’s was also asked to cook for Queen Elizabeth’s birthday celebrations in Guatemala and travel to the British Ambassador’s Residence in Rome to cook fish and chips for 850 dignitaries, including her majesty herself. This is certainly impressive, and, personally, if Colman’s fish and chips are good enough for the queen, they’re good enough for me.