There is nothing better than munching down a (good) takeaway in your PJ’s, in front of the telly, with a friend or loved one when you fancy a cosy night in. Am I right, or am I right? Last Saturday, Michael and I treated ourselves to exactly that! Having adorned my pin-striped suit and picked a chick flick, all that was left to do was choose from today’s infinite options what cuisine we fancied.
Having lived in East London for well over a year and heard only truly excellent things about Poppies, fish and chips became the menu for the evening rather quickly. Poppies is pretty famous in our end of London town, as one of the oldest and most popular chippies in London (the reviews speak for themselves – take a look at tripadvisor), so it’s fair to say we were pretty excited to finally be checking out their grub for ourselves.
Since their Spitalfields branch (they have one in Camden too) isn’t too far from us, we decided to get some fresh air and save some pennies by taking a leisurely stroll (yes, in my PJ’s) to pick up their classic British wares, but you can have their treats delivered too. As we were only dropping by to pick up food I feel it would be unfair to rate the ambience of the restaurant, so I will briefly mention my impression from a quick nosy round, but will not include that category in my overall rating. However, I promise you that I most certainly can comment on the quality of the food!
We rocked up at 7:30pm and joined the queue snaking out of the front door.
Service: Seeing how popular it was only made me hungrier, so thank God the take-away counter was staffed by only well-versed and speedy servers. In just a matter of moments it was our turn, and I must admit that I was a little speechless when confronted with the extensive menu; having anything other than cod or haddock had never even crossed my mind!
The server was really patient with me as I mm-ed and aah-ed, and didn’t rush me at all, despite the line of equally eager beavers behind us, which I was truly grateful for as I really did want to take home all of the beautiful, golden-brown, crisp pieces of fried fresh fish staring at me!
In the end I opted for a traditional option of haddock, but was thoroughly impressed by their offering of more unusual and luxurious fishes, such as halibut, skate, rock, plaice, mackerel, and even lemon sole. I will definitely be going back to give those a try!
I could barely control my salivating mouth as I watched my fish be caught and swim towards me, and be placed on top of a hefty bed of hand-cut chips, and enclosed in one of Poppies trendy newspaper-print boxes.
Our bag of food was handed over with a smile as they continued swiftly on to the next customer. Their efficiency and customer service really was second-to-none.
Ambience: As I have already mentioned, I will only briefly comment on what I saw of Poppies’ in-dining experience as I am not a fair judge. The restaurant has a very laid-back American-style retro diner feel to it, with the waiters all wearing matching uniforms, random bits & bobs hanging from the walls, and a juke box stood in the corner of the room.
Since the restaurant is rather small with limited seating space, communal dining tables are the only option one has, which may or may not suit you, depending on the type of evening you want to have. There isn’t much elbowroom and I watched a few collisions between diners and waiters in the narrow corridor en route to the dining room behind. The lighting is rather stark and I personally thought that this, combined with the aesthetics of the tables and chairs, gave a rather ‘naf caf’ look.
Thus, I was pretty pleased that we were leaving with our food to be gobbled up in our dimly-lit living room with a few flickering candles, under a blanket on the sofa, but it depends on whether this type of ambience appeals to you. If I was visiting Poppies for a casual lunch with friends then I could probably appreciate the slight quirkiness of the place in a more positive manner, but it really isn’t a romantic weekend hotspot!
Food: Finally, we have arrived at the section where I can tell you all about how amazing Poppies fish & chips is! Michael and I had turned the oven on before we left to give it all a quick re-heat when we got home whilst we boiled some peas (I’m not a big fan of mushy peas!). I tell you, never have peas taken so long to boil. Anyway, after 5 minutes it was time to get down to business. I will liken my joy at retrieving the Poppies boxes from the oven to unwrapping gifts at Christmas. Thankfully, the contents did not disappoint.
I plated it up to make getting at it a little less messy.
^ Don’t worry, that’s only half the chips.
^ Just look at that fishy beauty!
Settled into our usual seats on the sofa and having pressed play on the remote, we set about demolishing the lot. The fish really is spectacular. The haddock is tender & juicy and the batter tasty & crisp. There is nothing soggy about that fish! I think what sets Poppies’ fish apart from other chippies produce is that they really do only use the highest quality fish, all prepared on site by their very own fishmonger. You honestly can taste the freshness of the fish despite that it has been deep-fried, which I think is really rather impressive. The subtle flavour of the groundnut oil they use also comes through, bringing it all together beautifully. As for the chips, they are entirely non-greasy and very soft – perhaps more so than I would ordinarily like when accompanying other dishes, but for fish & chips, they were bang on what you expect from the chippy, and really very delicious. The fish & chips were seriously a match made in heaven, and definitely the best fish & chips either Michael or I have ever had.
Price: Having harped on about how tasty Poppies is, it is fair to say that you pay the price for it, in comparison to what you usually pay for fish & chips. But it is worth every penny! We had 2 large haddock (£8.50 each) and 2 regular chips (£2.00 each), bringing our order to a grand total of £21.00. I can assure you we were totally stuffed and satisfied, and very happy to know that we’d spent our ‘naughty’ take-away on enjoying the highest quality fresh fish & hand-cut chips, versus consuming God knows what ingredients from most other take-aways!
Overall, I really recommend you take a trip to Poppies. If you like fish & chips, you are going to love Poppies!