Having been nominated for the National Fish and Chips award in 2013 and with its sister restaurant in Spitalfields having won the award this year, we weren’t going to say no to going to Poppies in Camden.
So we said goodbye to leafy Fulham and trekked across London in search of the best fish and chips this city has to offer, now I have to mention before we go any further, I adore fish and chips – they would be my choice when it came to my last meal – if I was told I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, fish and chips would definitely be in the nominations, so I was expecting big things from Poppies.
The restaurant itself has a post-war 1940s theme, taking on the façade of a 1940s sitting room with 40’s memorabilia and signs adorning the walls, waitresses or ‘Poppettes’ were dressed in land girl inspired outfits reminiscent of the 1940s – it was a little bit kitsch, but had real character, and the endless stream of people through the door was testament to this.
The menu is simple: fish suppers, jellied eels, mixed plates of battered fish and a few sausages and pies thrown in for good measure. We started with the hot seafood platter – a mix of calamari, whitebait, cod bites and scampi – and whilst the whitebait was full of flavour and the calamari had that real fresh sea taste, the cod left us a little disappointed being somewhat tasteless and heavy on the batter side. We also had to try the jellied eels, you know just to say we had – they are one of few truly London dishes, perhaps it was the unappealing appearance, or the difficulty in putting giant, slimy, cold lumps of rubbery eel into your mouth, or perhaps being wimp-ish Fulham girls it was our lack of East end blood – either way they weren’t for us.
But moving on… we kept things simple and ordered the haddock and chips, what arrived was a glorious mountain of golden chips, we’re not talking fine dining style portions but big hearty portions – you know the sort, enough to keep a hungry fisherman satisfied and a good chunk of tender haddock in a crisp batter. Would I sleep happy if it was last meal? Crisp up the chips a little and I would say yes.
On Friday and Saturdays in the restaurant they have a band playing, I’m all for a live music whilst eating, on the condition that I can hear my friend who is sat less than a metre away from me and that the waitresses don’t have to keep apologising because they are struggling to hear you. We didn’t want to shout and nor did the couples around us but unless you wanted to sit and just eat, you had to, and so the level of noise in the restaurant was stressful – as soon as the band took a break I instantly relaxed. Which was a sham as the band were good, just too loud for a restaurant. Looking for a place to catch up or take a date – then this is not the night, unless it is a blind date and then at least there will be no awkward pauses as you can’t hear anything anyway.
Would I go back? Yes for the fish and chips. For the music? No.