A takeaway menu is available at TF&CS but don't expect to walk through the door to be greeted by Steve wrapping up a portion of fish & chips in newspaper, it's not that sort of place. It does have a bar manager though who was formerly with... you guessed it, Caprice Holdings. Cocktails? Yes, it's that sort of place too. While on the subject of drink, I note they advertise BYO Monday where you can bring your own wine 'for just £5 corkage'. Aside of this hardly being the offer of the century, what this all means of course is that TF&CS is a proper restaurant, bookings are taken and you shouldn't really mistake it for, well, a fish and chip shop. It's a restaurant that serves fish and chips.
Despite being a restaurant that is less than a year old, they've done a good job to make it look like it's closer to 40 years old with the design, though the newness of the old furniture gives its more recent origins away. It has its own charm however and has clearly been thought through, even if the booth in which we sat required us to breath in before sliding between the banquette and the table. Elsewhere, adding to that old fashioned feel, a pot of tea is served with milk in a small milk bottle that TF&CS's target market would have been served at school during playtime. TF&CS then is something of a nostalgia play also.
On food, with a friend, we shared a couple of starters. Well, the breaded langoustine tails (no scampi here) is really a main course but sharing it makes for a good starter. A decent portion of crisp, fresh white langoustine tails, toss in a couple of lemon wedges, it's again good traditional fayre. The London Particular Fritters, named such that you can guess what they might be, but are 100% guaranteed to ask just in case, beg to be ordered. It is pea and ham hock similarly breaded with a quick spell in the deep fryer. The fritters are actually quite nice, the peas fresh not heavy and the ham having enough depth to carry the fritter so that it doesn't seem just a gimmick with a clever name. So after starters, we are happy.
Cod and haddock for the mains, both priced at £9.50 without chips, arrive looking very proper, so well behaved. The fish is straight, the batter coating it like a glove rather than arcing off here and there with crispy batter bits. A dark gold that betrays little and not in the least bit greasy. From memory, The Ivy serves fish and chips, I've never had it, but I can imagine that it looks a lot like this. What's more, I can imagine that every fish that is presented here at TF&CS looks exactly the same. It's the kind of fish a place with a CEO would serve: disciplined. It's actually rather good and I instantly like its structural integrity. At Poppies, the batter was so crispy that taking a knife to it fractured it into a million pieces so you in fact had to then scoop batter up onto your fish to enjoy the two together. Here, the batter and fish were in union and as a proper bonus, the batter had a deep flavour to it, imparted I presume by the Camden Hell which they use in the batter. It doesn't look initially the most impressive piece of cod you've ever been served in a fish and chip shop, it is too flat, a bit like the fish that comes out of boxes in the supermarket, but there the comparison must stop for it was most enjoyable and I really have no complaints.
I imagine the chips cause a few heated arguments among diners however and possibly a few grumbles. Like the fish, they're a little posh, and certainly not the big fat chip shop chips that you would expect from a place called TF&CS. They're not bad, rather, quite decent chips in fact, they're just not what you think you're going to be served alongside fish in a chip shop. They are however what you think you will be served alongside fish at The Ivy. Some people will no doubt be furious. We didn't mind, it was good fish and chips, so all is forgiven.
Only on dessert do I actually want to grumble. What's Whyte & Mackay "white pot" I ask our waiter after being given the dessert menu? It's a posh bread and butter pudding I'm told. There's a lot of posh grub going on here it seems. But with some fond memories of recent bread and butter puddings, I give it a go. When it arrives, I pull a spoonful from the edge of the pot and it's okay albeit a touch on the heavy side. The closer to the centre I go, the heavier it becomes to the point where event though we are sharing the dessert, we don't finish for it is too dense to wade through. Rather than the bread feeling sliced, it instead feels like a whole uncut loaf squeezed into a small pot. It's a blot on an otherwise enjoyable meal.
Service was friendly and overall I like what they are doing at TF&CS. It's set up to be old fashioned but perhaps that is done to soften the impact of the modern touches they felt necessary to make the place a success (like serving cocktails). Most importantly, the fish and chips are good to eat and that has to be key factor for a restaurant that has aligned itself with the genre, though the inability to see a man in a white coat gently lowering battered fish into a fryer seems at odds with the venue's name. Indeed, I can't imagine anyone calling this place a 'chippy.' If I lived or worked local however, I would be delighted to have this on my doorstep and would be for sure a regular visitor (while avoiding the bread and butter pudding).