For the last year or so, I have constantly been hearing how good The Mayfair Chippy is, and that I have to go. I’ve resisted, not for lack of interest, but because I’m so rarely in the mood for fish and chips; I’m invariably left disappointed by the chips, the batter, or even the quality of the fish. Those that have read my review of The Smokehouse will recall that, as much as I liked the place and will return, it was the starters and snacks that stole the show – things turned south with the main event. But when Elizabeth of Mayfair Curated invited me to the first Mayfair Chippy Wine Club to try a few Turkish wines and a three-course meal for just £30, I couldn’t say no.
Situated on North Audley Street, it’s unquestionably the sleekest and most stylish chippy you’ll ever go to. Housed in small shops built as part of those large red Mayfair mansion blocks in the early twentieth century, many of the original features remain, including the wood panelling which juts up against the modern white tiles, beautiful modern art works, old oak blanket tables, and raw cast iron swing stools with brown leather seats. A great touch is the neon sign for takeaway orders, hanging alongside one of those authentic chippy black and white pegboards.
I won’t say much about the wine tasting itself except that it was held in the rear private dining room, a lovely space, and that IGT’s wine editor, who had gone with my partner and me, proclaimed himself surprised and impressed by the wines, particularly the rosé, though we did agree that the one red we tried, a 2013 100% Shiraz, wasn’t quite ready yet.
The highlight was the food. As we finished the last wine, a procession of friendly and attentive waiters flowed into the room bearing our starter – a sharing board of heritage beetroot with goat’s cheese, black pudding fritters with an apple sauce and crackling served in little copper saucepans, and deep fried Cornish squid with a roast garlic and parsley mayo dip. The beetroot was the perfect example of this now traditional modern starter – fresh and clean with a salty tang of goat’s cheese and piquancy from the beetroot gel. The squid was crisp, and the mayo the perfect light but flavourful accompaniment. The black pudding was the only blip on the board, being a little dense and in need of salt. That said, this didn’t stop me having seconds of it and everything else on the board thanks to some surplus owing to no-shows.
The Mayfair Chippy may serve mains as varied as soft shell crab burgers and steamed mussels but, let’s face it, for a showcase menu, there is but one thing they could serve as the main course: battered cod and chips, served with the redoubtable mushy peas, tartar sauce, and the regrettably traditional vulgarity – curry sauce. It was, put simply, the most perfect fish and chips I’ve ever had. The cod came away in large flakes, with a crisp, light batter and just the right amount of oiliness (that point where it gives flavour but doesn’t leave a mark on the greaseproof paper).
The chips, thank god, weren’t stodgy, the mushy peas were, and the tartar sauce was as tartar sauce is – though if like me you like it punchy with tarragon and cornichons, then you might find it a little flat. It was the most immaculate and enjoyable fish and chips I’ve had anywhere at any time. Even now I still find my mind wandering to it. Next thing I know I’m unintentionally drooling.
Dessert was faultless and, given it was Bakewell tart, a dessert I despise, that’s saying something. Indeed, the only reason I didn’t finish it was because I was already stuffed. This wasn’t just some small pastry casing filled with marzipan, jam, icing and then topped off with a sweet as sweet can be glacé cherry; no, this was a large wedge of what was more like a set batter-cum-custard studded with raspberries on jam, and a beautiful homemade pastry crust. Served with honey and almond ice cream, it was the perfect way to end the meal.
If you’re in search of a stonking good value fun night out, then I couldn’t recommend the monthly wine clubs at the Chippy more highly. In every respect The Mayfair Chippy is the perfect chippy. That is unless you want the old school greasy spoon style, with the cracked tiles and the chrome fryer hotbox. From the décor, through to the service and, most importantly, the food, the chippy is the best of old school charm mixed with the clean light modern touch that we look for these days. It is immaculate in all aspects, and who doesn’t want to have their fish and chips with a cocktail or two, or even a bottle of wine or two?