Nothing better than traditional fish and chips. It’s nostalgic comfort food, at least if you are British. We all have memories of queueing up in a white-tiled shop with steamy windows, a high counter with glass jars of pickled gherkins and eggs, bottles of brown vinegar and salt shakers. For those who hail from beyond these shores that emporium of fried delights was called ‘the chippy’.
Located on the northern edge of this classy neighbourhood, the Mayfair Chippy is also handy for the shopping thoroughfare of Oxford Street with its many fashion outlets but few worthy restaurants. The Mayfair Chippy sports an AA Rosette and appears in the Michelin Guide 2016, so its culinary credentials are impeccable – and so is the restaurant.
The local chippy is a well-loved institution so I was curious to see how both the swep-up location and a demanding diner base would translate into a traditional restaurant that would be acceptable to the chippy purist. Well, they have managed it with flair and little compromise.
The Mayfair Chippy is a small restaurant and cosy. There are high stools, more intimate banquettes, some marble-topped tables and white tiles as a nod to its roots. It’s light and contemporary but with accents from a past era – a beautiful balance that works perfectly here. There are still bottles of vinegar and glass cruets to assure the prospective diner that continuity has not been displaced by the zest for short-lived designer trends.
Fish and chips is unsurprisingly the speciality at the Mayfair Chippy, but they also offer other traditional classic British dishes, some of which change with the seasons. They have a celebrated Shepherd’s Pie made with braised Lamb Shoulder, and a periodic Steak and Kidney Pudding, as well as Longhorn Rib Steak and Chips with Roast Garlic, Anchovy and Parsley butter.
There is a beer and wine list at The Mayfair Chippy but somehow a nice cuppa always fits the bill with fish and chips at lunchtime. They have an array of tempting starters and not all of them are piscatorial. Home-made Black Pudding Fritters with a side of Apple Sauce came highly recommended and they were delicious, with delicate seasoning and a bit of a crunch. This is a take on an old-fashioned favourite and well worth a try.
The Crab on Toast is a stunner and should be another signature dish here. Cornish Crab with avocado, spiced tomato and fennel cress is moreish, well-flavoured and a must-try. This with a glass of chilled white to start a dinner would be perfect.
But the main event was always going to be the Mayfair Classic: Fried cod or haddock, chips, mushy peas, pickle, tartare sauce and chip-shop curry sauce. All served on a wooden platter with the fish and chips in a metal frying-basket. The fish was moist, the batter light and not at all greasy – and then there were those condiments. Mushy peas made with pulled ham hock is absolutely right. Chip-shop Curry Sauce might sound strange but will be familiar to chippy-goers. It’s not like a sauce for an Indian curry but a sweet spicy gravy that has become popular over the past few decades.
There are other items on the menu which might alarm the untutored: Scraps (when available, it states) are those frilly crunchy bits of batter that float off when the fish is lowered into the oil. I think they are called scraps as they are worthy of being fought over.
Battered Wally will likely be a mystery to many. We won’t go into the naming of this exotic garnish but suffice to say it’s a whole pickle that has been battered and deep-fried. It’s for the connoisseur.
There is a decent selection of desserts here. The Warm Chocolate Pudding is striking, with a flow of molten chocolate pooling around Salted Caramel Ice Cream (which could be a dessert in its own right) with a generous sprinkle of Cinder Toffee – that’s the golden crunchy honeycomb of childhood memories.
The Mayfair Chippy has managed to present traditional and casual food with style. The restaurant is a pleasant place to be, the food is first class in every regard. Word is getting around so best to book in advance. That’s what I’ll be doing.
Monday – Saturday: 12:00 noon – 10:00pm (last orders 9:45pm)
Sunday: 12:00 noon – 9:00pm (last orders 8:45pm)
Take-away hours: 11am – 10:30pm
The Mayfair Chippy
14 North Audley Street
Phone: 020 7741 2233
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018