The Great British Fish & Chip Shop

22, King William Walk, SE10

Boy, has the old Cricketers pub seen some action over the past few years. After stints as the Powder Monkey (a gay bar) the Tiki Lounge (all things South Pacific, but without the magic ’London’ between the two words) and the W-Lounge, its latest incarnation is as a jolly British chippy.

You certainly can’t miss the ‘British’ bit – the place is dripping with union flags from the sign to the pole to the fridge. The line between retro-chic and just plain vulgar can be quite slim, and I’m genuinely not sure which side the decor falls. There’s something a bit brash about it, but that could just be the newness of the tiles, and the giant size of the ubiquitous union flags. Upstairs works best, where the union branding is at a minimum, leaving plain dark tables and nicely mis-matched bag chandeliers to do the talking, if they can be heard under the very loud ‘British Rock & Roll’, which, when I was in there sounded suspiciously like bog-standard Euro-Trance.

You certainly know you’re in chip shop territory before you arrive – the pong hangs around the entire King William Walk/Nelson Road junction in a ‘distinctive’ – and not entirely pleasant –  manner. Oddly I’ve never noticed such a strong smell from, say, Mr Fast Fry or The Golden Chippy, but then I guess I don’t make a habit of hanging around them there parts very often. Once you’re actually inside the shop, the smell seems to disappear entirely, I don’t know how that happens.

The food is cooked to order, which gets a tick from me, and claims to be entirely from British waters. As long as that doesn’t pull on already over-stocked British waters in the name of ‘local’ too much, that seems good, but I do worry a bit. The most sustainable fish aren’t from around here, though there is always the trade-off in food miles. It’s a tough choice. In other matters, eco-issues are at least nodded to. The cartons in which the food arrives are made from bio-degradable, yet heat-holding card, a big improvement on polystyrene. It would have been nice to see washable ‘proper’ cutlery instead of plastic jobbies, and sustainable fish options, such as pollack, to finish the eco-concept.

The service is friendly and fast, given the whole cooked-to-order thing, and there is plenty of choice, from the usual cod and plaice through to fish cakes and scampi, plus battered shellfish, not something I’d come across before, really, and there are a couple of ‘lighter options’ for slimmers, though you can pretty much whistle if you don’t eat fish. The only veggie option I saw was the cheese and onion pie, easily the least tasty of the Goddard’s range, though it’s good to see a local brand being served there.

So – is it any good? I’d say it’s average. The fish is absolutely fine - the ‘special’ batter tastes pretty much like any other batter, but it’s crisp and fresh, and the fish inside it is moist. But the chips, which let’s face it, are what most people buy fish and chips for, are pretty bland. They’re ‘fat’ chips, which gets another tick, but they’re anemic-looking and don’t taste of much at all, unless you smother them in sauce (starting at 20p a sachet). You get plenty in a portion, but they’re unexciting to eat, so no one at my table finished theirs.

The one thing about fish and chips is that you rarely have room to eat anything afterwards, but there are desserts – ranging from kiddie-fave icepops through to the slightly out-of-place-feeling ‘rich chocolate mousse pot.’ There is, of course, the chance to have a deep-fried Mars Bar – doesn’t anyone realise that it was invented as a joke?

Drinks run the gamut from the classic chippie staples IrnBru, Cream Soda and Coca-Cola through to – and I kid you not – a £90 bottle of Laurent Perrier Champagne.

All in all, it’s okay. I didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. I’m sure it will do well from the sheer number of tourists visiting that part of the market but for locals I’m not sure that it does anything that Mr Fast Fry and The Golden Chippy haven’t been doing (slightly better) for years.


27 Comments to “The Great British Fish & Chip Shop”

  1. OldChina says:

    GP, who owns it? Am I right to assume Mr Dowling still owns the site?

    Not been in yet myself. I find the “Great British” bit and all the Union Jacks stuck everywhere a bit cringy, especially since it’s balatantly been created by an expensive PR firm. A bit cynical too, like “Missus So-and-so’s olde fashined sweet shop” that’s been there about a month.

    I also refuse to go in while the market traders are still doing business during daylight hours. I’m sure TGB Chip Shop will get more business once they’ve been driven away for good at the end of the year anyway.

    On the other hand, at least it’s decent business idea and one that people seem to want, especially as late night Greenwich eateries ate virtually nil. I’m sure I’ll pop in one day (probably pie-eyed at midnight). I just wish they could tone down the in your face, manufactured Cor-blimey, Gawd bless the Queen Muvva, Britishness.

  2. Anon says:

    More importantly…anyone seen that Pizza Luna has risen from the ashes and is now Helva….

  3. Rebecca says:

    What is with the bi-line “being served here since 1770″ or whatever it is?

    Speaking of the fate of the food traders, what is going on there? Have they been given an out date and is there and alternative being suggested for them to set up?

  4. Steve says:

    The “smell” you mention reminds me of when I used to live above a fish & chip shop. Every so often they would change the fat and the smell would go away for a few days. Draw your own conclusion.

  5. OldChina says:

    Rebecca, the food traders lost their battle to stay and have until the 31st of December, when they’ll have to vacate. I believe 5 of them (mostly yet to be chosen..?) will get to stay and will relocate to one of the shop units (so probably not the guys who have to cook on site).

    I bought a piece of fudge from the brownie/ cake stand a couple of weeks ago and the lady told me that they were probably staying but that they’d just been banned from selling fudge by the Hospital so that was the last time I’d be able to do that. Sounds like the remaining food stalls are going to be messed about with anyway.

    So, although the petition bought them a little time (they were supposed to leave sometime ago) ultimately GHT didn’t give a fig about the petition and what local people wanted.

  6. Kicki says:

    I just assumed it was an Inc tourist rip off – the Union Jacks and “fish served on the premises for 200 years” is designed to lure tourists in.

  7. Kate says:

    Good to see the GP reviewing a few of the new shop premises in Greenwich again! I notice we have a few new places to eat now including a restaurant next to the tex-mex place (havent seen up close what kind of cuisine it is and its not stated on the shop front) and a shisha sandwich bar! (Pipe and a sarnie please!)

    I havent ventured in the GBF&CS yet due to its garishness and generally being rammed with tourists whenever I pass. I guess that it is designed for – ‘in and out’ passing tourists as opposed to maintaining regular local clientele who will want to return for meals regularly. Im particularly taken with the ‘serving fish-and-chips-since-the-birth-of-christ type marketing’

  8. Rebecca says:

    I think that other new restaurant is a Greek place. It looks quite good actually, in comparison to some of the other eateries on offer.

    OldChina, I had a craving for a steak sandwich from the Brazilian guys at the market on Saturday. They only do the Churios now. He said they have been told they are not allowed sell the sandwhiches anymore, but wouldnt go into the reasons for it. Shame because that place always did well.

  9. But can you get a cup of tea and side orders of things like bread and butter and mushy peas with your fish and chips? These are important questions for a northerner!

  10. Steve says:

    “…the food traders lost their battle to stay and have until the 31st of December.”

    May warts infest every member of the GHT.

    (I hope the food stalls set up elsewhere.)

  11. Paul T says:

    I went two weeks ago. With the proviso that this was a Monday, it was the worst fish I’ve had in years. The batter was fine, but the fish itself was dry, totally overcooked in one dead lump, rather than flakes, and utterly tasteless. Yes, it was a mistake to go on a day when you’re unlikely to get fresh fish but this was shocking stuff. I do regret not taking it back, I normally would for something this vile, but I was in a hurry. The chips were bland, but I thought that was forgivable – I don’t think traditional English chips are always crispy and golden. In general, I thought the concept and selection (including Goddard’s pies) was promising.

    The place, needless, to say, was packed. Even if the food is poor, I doubt it will make much difference to the tourists who represent the main target audience.

  12. Tom says:

    Tried this the other week. Its quite an exciting looking place, I had quite high hopes for the meal.
    The meal wasnt bad but the fish was quite bland which is a shame. Also, when I was there they were not selling IrnBru, coming from Scotland I saw this as a sin so suggested they started stocking it. If they have taken notice, good on them!

  13. “the pong hangs around the entire King William Walk/Nelson Road junction… Once you’re actually inside the shop, the smell seems to disappear entirely, I don’t know how that happens”

    What they are doing is cynically pumping the air from inside the shop out into the street through a concealed grille as a marketing ploy; people passing nearby smell that lovely “hot vinegar” smell that makes you dribble even when just thinking about it and are tempted in. This of course leaves the air inside the shop clean and non-smelly so that you don’t come out smelling like what you are about to eat.

  14. Bob Local says:

    Not tried it yet but the reports aren’t good from others who have.

    The Golden Chippy in the High Rd is good and so is the one on Stratheden Parade at the Standard. Both serve huge portions with proper chips.

  15. scared of chives says:

    re: smell

    I guess any food establishment is likely to have its cooking smells ‘leaking’ onto the street – although, to me fried garlic, ginger, cumin and mustard seed is a little nicer than week-old oil full of mussel and Mars bar juice…

  16. Kate says:

    Cant beat The Golden Chippy! I wholeheartedly reccommend asking for one of their Salads if you can bare to part with the mushy peas option – its one of the nicest salads ive ever had and worked perfectly with their lovely fresh fish :)

  17. Hitherqueen says:

    What is happening to what was the chip shop opposite the pharmacy in Greenwich (the one that has had the scaffolding outside for ages). I really liked their chips…

    And the only drink to have with F&C is Dandelion & Burdock – yesno?

  18. MsW says:

    Are they actually allowed to say ‘Serving Fish and Chips since 17-whatever’ – isn’t that against advertising/trading standards because it isn’t actually true?

  19. Paul says:

    Inaccurate display advertising for shops falls under the jurisdiction of local trading standards, MsW:

    http://www.greenwich.gov.uk/Greenwich/Business/TradingStandards/

  20. Darren says:

    I’m with Hitherqueen when in comes to the Pier Chip Shop in Greenwich Church Street, I’m no gourmet but I did love their chips.

    Does anyone know if its gone for good?

  21. [...] Today’s tune is very dear to my heart. Years and years ago when me and my chap were only the best of friends and not girlfriend and boyfriend, or Mummy and Daddy, as we are now, we used to go along every Tuesday night with a crowd of fellow ne’er do wells to the Cricketers pub in Greenwich, where Vince, the pub landlord and his enormous muttonchops, used to lay on tortilla chips and cheese and pineapple cubes gratis to accompany the fine ales that were drunk as we caroused merrily to shanties and folk songs. I remember these nights as some as the happiest of times, although beer can do that to a lady. Times change though, and small and trad as the Cricketers was, and what with silly rules about costly entertainment licenses being brought in to prevent people from singing or enjoying themselves, they struggled to keep their heads above water and at some indistinct point they got taken over my mean old Greenwich Inc who pretty much own the entire town these days with their bland samey samey bars. The Cricketers became a series of failed night clubs and has just re-opened as a ‘good old British chippy’ themed restaurant apparently, though I haven’t seen it with my own eyes, I just read about it on the Greenwich Phantom. [...]

  22. Ann says:

    Unfortunately, our party did not get the chance to try this fish & chip shop. 12 of us decided to have lunch in Greenwich two of us went in to ask about the ‘restaurant’ upstairs and were told we had to order at the fish bar and then TAKE OUR OWN FOOD UPSTAIRS. Surely this is taking the mickey. A restaurant has service or at the least you order and then it is served to you.
    The ‘restaurant’ lost 12 very hungry customers ready to spend £15-20 each.
    Please let me know when the ‘restaurant’ is a REAL RESTAURANT and we may try again.

  23. Peter says:

    When you visited the Great British Fish & Chip Shop, did you think about asking them the basis for the claims on their signs. Those signs say something like: “Fish served here since 1770″ and “Serving fish from this site since 1770.” It is obvious what the reader is meant to think when he/she sees those signs. But can it be true? Why not ask them. I have done, but strangely they never reply.

  24. mary says:

    Baaad. Like really bad. Fish was totally dried out, so much so we couldn’t get it down – and we can manage anything! £7.40 for the soft shell crab and one measly little thing at the bottom of the huge box. I’m still a wee bit traumatised.

  25. Peter says:

    Probably the worst haddock and chips I have ever had; certainly the worst I have had at an eat in resturant. It was NOT cooked to order and was dried out. Was it yesterday’s left overs? Avoid this place at all costs.

  26. gary says:

    you’ll gonna have a whole lot less tourists in greenwich since they put ten quid on admission to the meridian, no one is gonna pay that to see a line

  27. Paul says:

    I get the bus from opposite the Chippy and usually I’ve eaten (Thai Won Mein) by the time I get to the bus stop.

    Recently I decided I wasn’t hungry enough for the full portion of chineese so ventured into the chippy for a bag of chips.

    They were terrible.

    By the time I’d crossed the road I’d decided to bin them they were so dry and non appetising.

    Never again. Safer to buy a packet of crisps from the corner shop next door – Who also sell IrnBru just in case Tom is still looking for the best soft drink ever.