Despite being filled with Michelin star restaurants I think it’s safe to say that with names like ‘Toad In The Hole’ or ‘Bubble and Squeak’, British cuisine has never really taken off! There is however an exception to the rule! A simple dish of fried fish and potatoes proved to be so deliciously popular that even the British colonies adopted it as their own! Heck, the whole world celebrated it! In fact, when it comes to national dishes, I don’t know if there is anything more British than fish and chips! Well, except for Chicken Tikka Masala that is…as that is in fact, the ACTUAL national dish of Britain. I know, it’s weird.
Needless to say, one can’t come to London without having at least one fish and chips experience. As it can often be so difficult to find a local dish that hasn’t been bastardized for tourists, we thought we would share this not so hidden gem we stumbled upon. Well, ‘gem’ is maybe an overstatement, it has it’s downfalls, but we’ll get into all of that now.
Golden Union fish and chips is located right at the edge of SoHo and just off of Oxford Street. You can almost say it’s hidden in plain sight. Carefully disguised to look like an 80’s chippie (that’s what the Brits call it), this place is beaming with all kinds of retro treasures. Don’t worry, you won’t feel like you’re in the 80’s for very long though, the prices will make quick work of that!
We found it after doing a simple “fish and chips near me” search on google on prevous trip 2 years ago. Golden union popped up and as it was the closest we made a B line for what was to be a quintessential fish and chips experience! It must have left a serious impression as when we visited again recently, it was the only place we went back to.
The menu is simple, fish and chips (in different varieties and formats) fried and served with chips and tartare sauce. You can also get other traditional ‘chippie’ dishes like fried sausages, meat pies and even a simple chip buttie – chips in a roll…for £5…simple, just not cheap. We were there for the fish, so decided to order the large cod and chips to share (we were still calorie counting during this trip so sharing was the only option)
The fish and chips is everything it’s supposed to be. A crispy golden batter that cracks under your knife to reveal a soft flaky fish below. It truly was perfect. The chips were good, they could have been a little crispier, but once we doused them in salt and malt vinegar it didn’t make much of a difference! I mean…deep fried potatoes right? How bad can they be? We were both a little disappointed in the tartar sauce, not only is it tiny (at £2 a portion) it lacked that tartness its name so blatantly promises. The ‘large’ portion was probably just enough for the 2 of us, though we could have done with some more chips…Because fried potatoes!
In stark contrast to the food, the service was terrible! The very hipster waitresses seemed to compete with each other in a little game called “ignore the customer’ – they were both very good at it! I did, however, receive a lot of attention when I stepped beyond the ‘wait to be seated’ sign at the entrance and was told in no uncertain terms that I was to PLEASE WAIT HERE!! Strangely enough, it all seemed like part of the experience so I wasn’t too bothered!
Now in case you missed my comments on the prices above, let me reiterate that this is not a cheap chippie!! At £30 for 2 beers and a shared main (no starters or dessert), it hardly seems worth it! Though for some reason it is! With all the amazing places we visited on our last trip to London a year ago, this was the only one we returned to and perhaps the only one we’ll go back to on our next trip! Maybe we’re just suckers for crispy fish and punishment!
Here’s one last top tip…Having felt slightly short-changed on our chips in the restaurant we decided to get a box to go on the way out – It turns out the take-away menu is significantly cheaper than the sit-down menu and way better portioned – the chips were also crispier but that may have just been good luck!
So, if you find yourself in London with a fist full of Pounds and a hankering for fish and chips, you can’t go wrong here.
Okay. Bon Apetite and stay fancy.