In a word:
Anyone wanting to take a step back in time. The 1950s décor has been meticulously designed by ‘Pop’ himself (Pat Newland) the celebrated owner of Poppies. The result will…transport you. Everything is covered; from wall to wall memorabilia and traditional chip shop uniforms, to the jukebox which provides the perfect musical backdrop to your authentic, newspaper-clad meal. (Note: this newspaper has been specially made to bypass those pesky health and safety laws, edible ink and all!)
Market browsers in need of a quick and tasty refuel. Due to their set up, Poppies can cater for those who’d like to grab something to go and continue shopping, as well as those of you who’d prefer to indulge in a sit-down meal. Although the recently opened stall embedded in the Old Spitalfields Market is convenient, I strongly advise you take the time to soak up the atmosphere in the restaurant across the road as well.
Those who want the fish and chips, without the grease. It was an absolute joy to finish my cod without feeling as though my face was glistening with oil! I love a good deep-fried treat, but not if it makes me feel like my pores are secreting slime… *shudder* [Ed: strong]
Once I’d caught onto the fact that we were meeting at the market kiosk as opposed to the restaurant – good start, Lily! – I made my way across the road where we were greeted by the lovely Kaltrina (that’s her in the dress). Despite only having worked for Poppies for a couple of weeks, she was oozing with enthusiasm about the quality of their food and it’s always easy to tell when this is genuine pride as opposed to bog-standard sales spiel.
It makes such a difference when you can tell the staff care about the values of a place and, once we’d met Pop, it was clear to see why that commitment carries through. I guess, because so much of his personality and history has gone into creating Poppies, it makes sense that people should care so much.
The Main Event:
Before you even get to the fresh fish, you’ll have the pleasure of encountering the crispiest batter imaginable. The satisfying crunch of golden-brown goodness then gives way to your choice of cod or haddock; both of which are cooked to a drool-worthy tenderness.
I opted for cod myself, although I’m usually a sucker for haddock [Ed: but not for sucker catfish? l3l], so it was nice to be surprised by a fish that I’m usually not blown away by. You can tell that quality is taken seriously here; Pop informed us that their providers are well aware of the fact that they can’t get away with selling them anything but the best and you can tell.
Having been raised in North Yorkshire, I won’t entertain the idea of fish and chips without the promise of a generous helping of mushy peas. London’s disappointed me on this front in the past, so I was thrilled to be served a hefty portion of the green stuff this time round. My goodness, it hit the spot.
Chips. Oh chips. Any chip connoisseur will have been through their fair share of sub-par spuds; hard on the inside, soggy on the outside… it’s a crime. Do not fear! Your meal is anything but let down by the chips at Poppies. Again, they’ve hit the nail on the head with flavour and texture. Rather than merely acting as a vehicle for salt and vinegar or a shovel for my mushy peas, I could enjoy these chips on their own – which doesn’t actually happen often. As with the rest of the experience, I put this down to attention to detail.
I wouldn’t usually go for saveloy or battered sausages. No particular reason! I’m just not hugely enamoured by the idea of them. After trying both here, I think I’ll definitely be repeating the purchase; they really were very good indeed.
I would have loved to have tried the jellied eels. We did (try to) order them but, unfortunately, they weren’t available. I doubt that this was due to them selling like hot cakes – seeing as they’re not exactly commercially viable [Ed: most people need to learn the eel jelly love], it’s understandable that they wouldn’t be in stock 100% of the time. It’s a shame though, because it would have been great to try such a classic London delicacy!
It’s no surprise that Poppies has received multiple accolades including their victory at the National Fish and Chip Awards 2014. It just goes to show that hard work, the honouring of traditions and pride in good food go a long way.
It’s also worth mentioning the live music program at the Camden venue. Although we obviously weren’t privy to this ourselves, it seems like there’s a great buzz surrounding these performances and it’s also a unique combination! Fish and Chips + live entertainment… What’s not to like!?
Who should go? Poppies could be a great choice for a family meal, dinner with your flatmates or even date-night. All in all, you can’t go wrong with a crowd pleaser and, trust me, the crowd we encountered on a Tuesday night was very pleased indeed.
6-8 Hanbury Street
Tel: 020 7247 0892
16 Horner Square