I’ve always said that tours are pretty pointless unless you’ve absolutely no idea what’s going on in a country. Tour guides generally take you to the typical “touristy” joints, say the “touristy” things, and are pretty much useless for anything else. I suppose that’s when you should ask the locals for help, and who knows London better than a cabbie? After asking one for a place with a decent fish and chips, we arrived at The Seashell, the proclaimed “best fish and chips in London”.
The Seashell is well known to the London cabbies, as they also enjoy the food from time to time. Therefore, it’s rather easy to find; even if you don’t use a cab, however, it’s very accessible from the Underground. You have plenty of options to get there. Once you arrive, there’s the takeout station (cab driver heaven) and the main restaurant, where we decided to sit for dinner. It’s a no-frills, no-nonsense environment. A simple blackboard details the day’s specials, and the simple artwork and warm-colored walls don’t distract you from the main feature – good food.
Here, the menu is straight to the point. After a list of starters, the menu goes into two main sections, the fish and chips and the grilled fish. The only non-seafood option is lamb, but it’s clear the major emphasis is on their famous fish and chips. So why not go for it? For me, I’ve never seen a restaurant give so many options for the type of fish in the fish and chips. It’s quite interesting, really.
For starters, we tried the haddock chowder and deviled whitebait. The haddock chowder is significantly richer than clam chowder, with little pieces of fish being strewn throughout the soup. It’s also seasoned with mustard to add some kick to it; in all, an enjoyable starter, but rather filling. The deviled whitebait is also quite good regardless of its…interesting ingredients. It’s basically battered and deep fried whole fish, but it’s been seasoned incredibly well. There isn’t a trace of fishiness at all. The dipping sauce, a garlic butter sauce, also adds quite a bit of taste to it all. If you don’t mind having something fried for your first dish, it’s well worth it, and apparently quite popular too.
The main dish doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination – it’s traditional fish and chips, with a variety of fish available. The typical ones are the cod and haddock, but there is also rock salmon (dogfish), skate (stingray like thing), and plaice. I actually have no clue what plaice is, but rock salmon and plaice weren’t recommended compared to the cod and haddock. Therefore, the only real “exotic” one we tried was the skate. The cod and haddock were about the same, so I’ll say that both were truly excellent preparations. The fish was light, flaky, and tasteful; also, the batter was incredibly thin but well done. It’s not greasy or oily, but still has a satisfying crunch. The skate, however, was something totally different. Since it was more a stingray than a fish, the meat was oily but not fishy. Also, the meat was stringy; you could pick it with a fork and a long strand would come off. That’s not to say it’s a bad decision. In fact, it was the tastiest out of all of the fishes. However, I do think you should prepare yourself for something completely different.
The desserts were also very good, with two homemade desserts topping the list. The favorite is a butter and bread pudding, topped with custard. It’s a beautiful combination of sweetness, with raisins embedded throughout, and the soft texture of the bread. The apple tart is supposedly excellent, though I don’t have first hand experience. An amusing dessert was the “spotted dick”, with is a rum raisin cake with custard slathed on top of it. I have no idea why it’s called such, but I did hear a few chuckles from here and there. My my, we’re all such kids at heart.
In all, the Seashell does live up to its name of having the best fish and chips in town. I was quite happy with the goods, and I’m pretty sure most people would too. I’m not even a huge fan of British food, either, so that should be saying something. The worst part is the service, which isn’t very good at all. We sat for twenty minutes before we even got anybody to come by. These are college students who aren’t particularly enthusiastic about things here. If you’re lucky, then you’ll find someone who will serve you promptly, but be prepared ot wait just in case.
**Best fish and chips isn’t an overstatement
**Annoying service towards foreigners
49-51 Lisson Grove
London, NW1, United Kingdom
+44 20 72249000