I came here with a small group of people a week or two before, and one person – not me – had ordered a meat pie and loved it. Meanwhile, we wanted one.
So we came back!
This is a steak pie, with lashings of gravy and a side of chips. Ooooh, so comfortingly delicious. Great pies here!
Mac’s Fish and Chips
Any dining spot that adds something unique to the area gets my vote, and Mac’s British style fish and chips fits that.
And by British, I mean specifically with a Scottish flair.
The chips are as close to British chips as ever I’ve tasted. Thick-cut, soft inside, and about 30% of them soggy outside as well. Really, in holding up photos of Mac’s chips and the ones I ate in England as recently as a week ago, I cannot tell the difference.
Ok, I can. The difference is that Mac’s meals are served in an “old school” wax paper printed like an English newspaper – which was how they were served until some time probably in the 80s. But I almost wish they were served in real newspaper, because the paper allows the chips to off-steam. An issue with *all* British chips is that they’re now served in this waxy paper and once the take-away is wrapped up, the steam just gathers in the paper and that’s what turns the chips soggy. However, sogginess = reality. So if you’re looking for that experience, you’ll get it. The thought of a fat packet of take-away chips, drizzled with salt and malt vinegar always makes me salivate.
Another difference: the chippies in the UK always seem to charge 20p per packet of ketchup. So, thanks Mac, for making the ketchup and brown sauce free condiments.
I ordered the regular fillet (please pronounce the T, btw) of fish, with chips and a side of mushy peas. Don’t be scared by the deceptively liquid state of the peas when you’re armed only with a fork. It is firm stuff that’ll not fall through your tines, even in an inebriated state.
Kudos for having sausage rolls and, one of my comfort faves, battered sausages! I wasn’t able to have one during this round of tasting, but just you wait…after a couple pints I’ll be good and ready.
And lo, there’s Bass and Fuller’s on tap, in case you need any in-house guidance a more jolly state.
The sausage meat comes from Whitefoot Meat Market on Milpas just down the road, and Whitefoot is one of the last remaining small business butcheries in town.
I also tried one of Scotland’s desserts, the deep fried Mars Bar. Not the American Mars Bar, the British one. Sticky, crisp, battered, fried goodness. Pair that with an Irn-Bru, made from girders!
Finally, why aren’t there trashcans through the dining area? Well! I actually know the answer to that. Mac’s wrappers and baskets are all recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable, but rather than have three sets of bins all throughout the establishment, they are under the counter.
Price: about $15 for the regular fillet of Alaskan Cod, chips, mushy peas and a deep fried Mars bar. That’s just under about £10, about what you’d pay for the same in the UK.
Well done. Can’t say the same for England’s football team!
Mac’s Fish and Chips
Let’s give Posh Fish a chance to redeem itself after that ginormous kebab baby that slayed us the night before.
Here we have the prettiest bag of chips I’ve ever seen, and it was loaded with warm, comforting chips with lashings of salt and vinegar.
It truly is the great British take away.
Fish and chips were a fast and moderately cheap meal option during my poor student days. We even worked out a system of cruising by the chippie in Kew near closing time, when they would sometimes add another fillet into the takeaway packet for free. We’d walk over to the park, sit on the swings and munch away at our greasy goods. Of course, to eat end-of-the-day fish, we needed strong stomachs. Not a problem on my side.
But for just a two week trip, with so many wonderful things to eat, we only had a limited number of meals to spend at the chippie, so we needed to be selective.
Phil recommended Fryer’s Delight, which wasn’t far from our homebase. It’s been around for ages, and is known for having exceedingly good chips. Unlike the move to healthier options, which is ironic in a way for chips, these are fried in beef drippings. Oh my!
The prices posted on the board are takeaway prices, they are a little higher to eat in. We sat at a booth, and shared a haddock and chips, and a battered sausage and chips.
Now, I have a little comfort thing for a deep fried savaloy, but the battered sausage was just as good. Mellow in flavor with a subtle hint of spices that an over-seasoned American tongue might pass over as bland, but I loved it. Mmm, fried.
As usual, packets of tomato ketchup, brown sauce, mayonnaise or tartare sauce cost extra, but there was plenty of malt vinegar for free at the table. That was all we needed. Great chippie!
Fryer’s Delight (Bloomsbury)
There’s a greasy spoon tucked into the nooks and crannies of just about anywhere. The Shepherdess is one of them, and spacious with ample seating for workmen on break, or a friends’ meetup.
It’s a no-frills environment. In place of the expected frilly curtains, for example, the windows have been painted with pictures of curtains.
I got a breakfast of egg, sausage, bacon and half portion of beans. I don’t think I actually got a half portion of beans.
If you love chips, order them. If you moderately like them, don’t order them and you will still get half a dozen as garnish on the plate, as seen above.
As a first British meal since arriving in England, we were comforted by a perfect cup of tea. Mellow, milky, and sweet without being sweetened. It was probably an inexpensive, big bulk brand, but it was just right for the moment.
Shepherdess Cafe (Hoxton)