The greatest little chippie
August 5, 2007
I sing the praises of Toffs, the greatest fish’n’chippe in north London – probably in Britain, and therefore, by default, the world. What makes it so special? The thin, crisp batter; the spanking fresh fish; the endless supply of perfect chips; the cheeky grinning staff. The owner who resembles a baby diplodocus and always tries to flog you the expensive halibut fillet, when all you want is the bog-standard haddock.
The old-fashioned, wood-panelled and mirrored interior. The pleasure of eating in a restaurant where they concentrate on cooking one dish to perfection, without fuss or frills, over and over again, for decades. The low-key buzz of an unpretentious local establishment, a pillar of the community. The third-hand glamour of framed and autographed c-list celebrity photos – Minty from Eastenders, Les Denis, Victoria Wood, Norman Wisdom.
Is there a more satisfying colour combination than mushy peas, ketchup and chips, laid out generously on pure white tablecloth and sparkling white plates? These should be the colours of our national flag; I’d happily pledge allegiance to the green, red and yellow.
Even the mauled remains of a plate of f’n’c is a pleasure to behold. The pattern of silvery fish scales on the inside of the discarded batter, sacrificed in the hope of leaving enough room for Spotted Dick and custard. The small puddle of congealing mushie peas, left aside as an offering to the patron saint of the chippy.
There are three things which, for a contented existence, should be within staggering distance of the front door – a cinema with comfy seats; a boozer with a cuckoo clock and gurning locals; and a chippie like Toffs.