Ah, fish and chips. What would us Brits do without it? What else would we eat, sitting on Exmouth beach in tightly-hooded rain jackets on a cold, windy day, refusing to accept we should really be indoors?
Fish and chips is well-known as one of Britain’s best-loved dishes both at home and abroad.
Surprisingly though, the two foods that make up our Friday-night favourite aren't actually originally from the UK.
Like the Indian curry, which is today considered a popular part of British cuisine, fried fish was in fact brought over by Jewish immigrants in the 19th century from Spain and Portugal.
Thought to be originally from Belgium, ‘chipped potatoes’ emerged in the UK around the same time, and the fried fish sellers of Victorian England decided they belonged together, with the first ‘chippie’ being opened by Joseph Malin in London in 1860. It was in the Second World War that fish and chips became a key part of the everyday family’s diet, boosting morale countrywide – and so a British classic was born.
Exeter is generously blessed in the fish and chip department. If you’ve been dying to try fish and chips, you’ve come to the right place – here in Devon we are only ever a short journey away from the sea, meaning the cod (or haddock, or pollock) is fresh and its texture flaky.
Exeter and its surrounding towns have many chippies to choose from, but here are our top fish ’n’ chip recommendations.
Right at the end of Queen Street, the Clock Tower Fish Bar is in a very central location. Their fish and chips is consistently tasty and fresh, meaning this shop has a big reputation and comes highly recommended by Exeter locals, including our very own Andy Matthews! The Clock Tower is Andy's local chippie, so be sure to ask him to recommend something on the menu, or just pop down and see what you fancy.
Down on the Quayside waterfront, this restaurant is a friendly pub rather than a takeaway and it's right on IPC’s doorstep, making it the perfect choice for your lunch break. Here you can experience the famous dish in a traditional pub setting, staying cosy inside on cooler days and lounging outside on picnic benches in the summer. Maybe you’ll even order a ice-cold glass of cider to sip in between chips.
The Fish Supper House wins great reviews from Exeter residents. They offer good sized portions at reasonable prices.
Located across the river in the St Thomas area of Exeter, you can find the shop on the corner of a row of terraced houses. With its old-style striped canopy over a traditional English window front, visiting the shop is a cultural experience in itself.
The new kid on the block, Smart Fish Bar has quickly gained a solid reputation for good food. Further north than The Fish Supper House, this chip shop is convenient if you are staying across the river in Exwick.
The Smart Fish Bar offers the usual range of fish and chip classics including scampi, pies and mushy peas, as well as general café food such as jacket potatoes and kebab burgers. The Smart Fish Bar offers gluten free versions of many dishes - just ask when placing your order.
Although it is a little further away from the city centre, for those with special diets, Polsloe Bridge is the place to go. They have a vegan menu, served Wednesdays between 17:00-22:00, and a gluten-free menu on Mondays at the same times.
You can take the J, K or T bus from the centre and get off at Widgery Road, directly opposite the shop, or you can walk a half an hour through the city’s Victorian terraced suburbs to build up your appetite, perhaps in preparation for trying everything on their vegan menu – battered vegan sausages, potato scallops, vegetable burgers and pineapple fritters.
At Polsloe Bridge you can try some of the more eccentric chocolate-based foods chip shops have tried battering, such as Oreos, Mars Bars, and Creme Eggs at Easter. Yum.
Read all about Polsloe Bridge’s vegan menu here.
Found in the nearby seaside town of Exmouth, Krispies has risen to the heights of fish and chip shop fame in the Exeter area for its one unique and incredibly tasty offering – battered chips. Open since 2000, they are committed to producing high quality food – and with a stellar location a few minutes walk from Exmouth’s sandy beach, if you’re after the true British ‘fish and chip experience’ of sitting on the seafront come rain or shine with warm fish and chips in your lap, you can’t do much better.
Visit Krispies' website here
Another IPC staff favourite, the Fish Shed at Darts Farm comes highly recommended by both Roger and Belinda. Located in the beautiful countryside near Topsham, you can enjoy your freshly-caught local fish ’al fresco’ outside on the available picnic benches.
There’s a long list of fish to choose from, from redfish to monkfish, lemon sole to brill, and if you prefer it plain you can order your fish unbattered. If you’re in search of top quality seafood without the restaurant setting, the Fish Shed sells scallops and lobster to savour with your chips, too.
Visit Darts Farm's website here.
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