Any discussion of Poppies needs to be divided into two parts, being the food, and the restaurant itself, because rather than just having the plain decor of a usual fish and chip shop/restaurant, they've gone themed. It's probably easiest at this point to quote the restaurant's own website directly:
Pop has recreated East End London between 1945 and 1955... sit and enjoy your meal served by our friendly ‘Poppettes’ dressed in wartime ‘land girl’ outfits. Our vintage-style décor, complete with a 1950s style jukebox playing doo-wop hits and other vintage memorabilia lovingly collected from local markets by Pops himself, will take you back to another era.
But while it is tidily done, personally, it was not my cup of tea. The waitresses I thought looked faintly ridiculous (and self conscious) in their outfits and, in line with industry norms, there's an Eastern European tilt to the service model which somewhat shatters the post war cockney theme they're aiming for. On top of that, is there anyone under the age of 60 who enjoys listening to 1950's 'doo-wop hits' while eating dinner? It makes Magic FM seem frighteningly cutting edge. The reality is that I, and I suspect this will be true of many diners there, not being a pensioner, don't feel any kind of nostalgia connection to 1950's, or to diners of that era, so the costumes and the music irritate more than amuse.
But I'm here for the food and there's a full three course menu. For starters, well, it wouldn't be the East End without jellied eels though I wimped out on this. There's whitebait, calamari, and I thought I might order the 'hand peeled prawn cocktail' though at the last minute I seemed to blurt out 'scampi' instead; maybe it was the uniform that threw me off my game. So more deep fried seafood.
But the thing is with Poppies, that doesn't seem so bad because it is all so clean and fresh. I think I've got used to bad fish chips over the years and forgotten how properly crispy batter is (or can be), how white and flaky the cod should be and how, with good fish and chips, you're not just tasting absorbed fats. Poppies are proud of their daily fish delivery (rightly so) and the quality of the cod used is readily apparent.
Fish and chips here then seems like fish and chips without the guilt and it's worth noting that the fish is fried in groundnut oil (which has less than half the saturated fat of lard). If that's still too unhealthy for you, there's a broader range of fish including skate, sole and mackerel that are offered grilled. Overall I'm happy with the meal and the chips, proper chunky chip shop chips of course, also have a nice fresh taste to them.
Dessert is a choice of ice cream, apple pie or sticky toffee pudding. I opted for apple pie but sadly it was terrible. With soggy pastry and a barely there filling, Mr Kipling or would have been a significant step up. Only later reading the website do I see that their sticky toffee is from Cartmel, Cumbria, so is most likely the better option, though for most diners, possibly a bit much after a big plate of fish and chips.
Overall then, for what you visit Poppies for, the fish and chips, they do well and with both eat in and take away options available (including deckchairs outside), it's certainly worth a visit. If I return there to eat, I'd have to consider taking ear plugs to block the music and I'd avoid the apple pie. Live and learn. But with the restaurant recently having reached the semi-finals of the National Fish & Chip Awards 2013, no one can say they're not serious about their fish and chips.