Reviewing The Mayfair Chippy, Because No One Puts Chippies On A Blog
Where I grew up, (Montserrat), fried food has a day of appreciation. That's Fridays. Lunch or dinner, it's chicken fry, fish fry, potato fry. You catch where I'm going. But never battered.
For that reason, no one battered an eye when our grandparents (Montserratians, too) offered us fish and chips on our first weekend with them here in the UK.
Except when grandad returned with the oily saturated newspaper, covering malt vinegared chips and what should have been deep-fried battered fish, I couldn't find the love.
No one pointed out the fish would be in batter. And no one said the chips came drenched in a vinegar concoction.
Fork shovelled the wet batter away. Found a piece of fish, bland.
This chippy had fried this fish alright but to me, only a little more than not frying it all.
My grandad catches my dismay, sugars over the situation and let me off the hook. My sisters saw me get a get-out-of-jail card and followed suit. My mother however, was less sugar, more salt on the matter of wasting food.
I recalled this 'saving of me' in my celebratory speech at my grandad's funeral. But I digress.
Years on, I still fork through batter for what may be a decent filet of fish hidden somewhere. Though, in contrast, I now appreciate good salt and vinegar chips.
It's the weekend; I have unintentionally knocked out some 7000 steps for the day. But where we are standing on 14 North Audley Street is the reward, its intentional. The queueing, for a seat inside The Mayfair Chippy, not so much.
One of the owners (I later discover) comes out the restaurant. Poker faced, he speaks to the queue which by the way had got longer, adding another 40 minutes for a table, to the 40 he'd previously advised. Chippies are normally takeaways not dine in restaurants maybe that's fuelling the wait. At this rate we're considering going to catch the fish ourselves off the North Sea of Scotland. But no one budges, not even us. He returned in doors, likely more pokerfaced.
But I am pretty certain daggers followed, as he retreated indoors.
The medley of conversations barely paused for his announcement and returned to normal very shortly there after. A good ear to the crowd said it was not the local community fuelling this wait either.
Outside, a table for two becomes available. The restaurant door swings open once more and the owner exits with the smell of deep-fried chips, salted-and-vinegared, accompanying him. He offers the outdoor table. The weather being more Siberian than British and because we weren't Eskimos, declined one by one for the more sensible indoor climes.
The cold is sobering and attention diverts to the shop front. There, a large glass window dazzled, with multiple awards this chippy in Mayfair has won.
Square meal 2015, 2018
Michelin 2017, 2018, 2019
National Fish & chips award finalist 2016
National Fish & chips award, Top 10, 2017
The many accolades over the years, cementing it's reputation, it's consistency and its salt. Putting doubts at bay.
Expectations heightened we maintained our position in the queue.
As well as good fish and chips, I am now expecting an acrylic underwater installation, huge shiny chrome fishes on the walls and a live stream to the fishermen off the North Sea of Scotland. No less.
We are happy to be finally seated. I'd admit my imagination ran away with me. Yes, there are picture frames of fish on the walls but there are no Instagram-worthy pieces of art. The colour scheme is simple, there's a lovely checkerboard floor, chairs to sit on and tables to eat at.
Diners here are here purely for the food.
Having queued as we did, there's no idling with the menu. No turning it upside down, flipping it over or checking it twice. We knew what we wanted. The Mayfair Classic (cod), a Frontier Lager for Mr PWT and my usual refresher.
The kitchen keen not to extend our wait, shortly sends out our orders. The portions, served on a paper-lined metal tray on a wooden platter with three filled sauce pots, are gigantic.
A treat for the eyes.
There's a crunch under the fork. That's good. No need for me to fork away. I move a fork full of battered fish to my lips. The smile stays.
The batter light, seriously crispy.
Hooked, we shovelled and hauled generous chunks of deep-fried crispy fish into our mouths. No fish skin in sight. On its own, sometimes dipped in fish shop curry sauce and other times dipped in tartar sauce. But never the mushy peas. Not yet hooked on that.
I'm undecided as to which sauce, I preferred more. Maybe I needed another portion to help with the decision. But the portions were healthy. Sufficient fish and chips on my platter for two meals but the fork kept going in and I cleared the tray of all but mushy peas.
It was seriously good—the batter crispy, the fish fleshy, and the chips, salted perfection. Fish and chips need only to be good, and this was good. Good British comfort food done well.
In Saturday afternoon's level of busyness, space is a luxury.
Here at The Mayfair Chippy, there's seating for over 40 diners. An outside seating for ten. Then, in the main dining area, around twenty, and in the back, about fourteen, including a table for six.
Here kids are welcomed and catered for with a kid's menu. So too, are vegans and vegetarians.
There's a dessert menu too, but who gets dessert in a chippy? Ahh. We did.
My dessert is an apple and cherry crumble with custard, but I'm not convinced. Maybe it's cherry and apple crumble. Perhaps it is, neither. There's an overly dominant flavour here, and it doesn't appear to be either of the two fruits.
The knickerbocker glory is gone before I have a chance to taste it. But I am told that, too, was a less successful dish.
If everyone from Squaremeal to Michelin Guide to National Fish and Chips award has eaten the same quality of fleshy, crispy fish as we did, those awards are worth their salt.
I do not have an award to give, but it gets my bookmark, my recommendation, and a return visit in appreciation of good fish and chips.
It is safe to say I've found love for the fish and chips at The Mayfair Chippy, and enough love to review it on the blog.
At the Mayfair Chippy they offer delivery, takeaway and dine in, where unlike us, you can book your table online and avoid the queuing. But Where's the fun in that?
So tell me, do you have a chippy near you? Is it any good?