Can you believe it, I have left Seoul, and am now officially a London resident. Korean readers don’t despair I shall still be sharing a review of a Seoul restaurant every Monday for the foreseeable future, however I shall be writing about London restaurants every Friday too. For my first London review, I wanted to eat something very traditionally British, and there is nothing more traditional than fish and chips. Since we are located just around the corner from Spitalfields Market, I decided to try out Poppies Fish & Chips. There are two locations in the neighbourhood, one to-go stand inside the market and a sit down restaurant around the corner. We decided to visit the latter.
Poppies opened almost twenty years ago when Pat Newland, who has worked in the fish and chip business since 1952, decided to open up his own store styled on his nickname ‘Poppie’. The shop is absolutely full to the brim with 1950’s memorabilia from Pop’s childhood in East London. Even the uniforms channel that retro vibe, and it is a real hit with tourists who are looking for slice of vintage London. When we arrived at 5pm on a rainy weekday we found the place to be almost full, so expect to queue on weekends.
The menu at Poppies is very large and varied and includes everything one would expect from a good fish and chip shop. There is a selection of battered and breaded seafood, pies, battered sausages (which I loved as a child) and for the brave among you pickled eggs and jellied eels. Now since it is a restaurant this is a fish and chips shop that does not come cheap, however if you are on a budget and it isn’t raining you should get it to-go. But if you stay in expect to pay top dollar, there are celebrity chefs that charge less for their fish and chips than this place.
After much contemplation we both decided to get the small Cod & Chips (£13.95), along with a side order of Mushy Peas (£2.95). Mushy peas are absolutely not to be missed out on, they are a quintessential part of the fish and chips experience. Even though they look slightly gross, they are absolutely delicious. Also on the plate were two adorable pots of tomato sauce and tartar sauce, which I am glad we did not have to pay extra for. There is also salt and vinegar on the table so you can add as much or as little as you like.
The fish itself was very lightly battered, and from afar it almost looked like breadcrumbs. The batter was very light and very crisp. Personally I like a thicker coating but this was still good. All the fish used at Poppies is sustainable and brought in fresh from Billingsgate Market every morning. You could really taste that it was a good bit of fish, as it was very light and fresh tasting. The chips were fluffy in the middle, though not crisp enough on the outside in my opinion. However they went down well enough when doused in salt and vinegar. I’d say the portion was a decent size, and was more than enough to fill my belly, though you might want to go for the large if you have a big appetite.
Overall I think Poppies was of a good standard, and they have several locations throughout London making it quite accessible. However I think it is overpriced if you eat in, though I’m sure there are a lot of overheads that come with these prime locations. I think if I was hankering for fish and chips again, I would just hit the to-go stand and save myself a couple of pounds. Also sitting on a park bench with a paper wrapped bundle of fish and chips scalding your lap is all part of the true fish and chips experience.
Poppies Fish and Chips is located at 6-8 Hanbury St, Spitalfields, London E1 6QR. The nearest tube station is Liverpool Street Station (Central, Circle, Hammersmith Lines). For more information you can call them on 020 7247 0892 or check out their website. They are open from 11am-10.30pm everyday.