Sun. May 26th, 2024
alert-–-the-top-chef-charging-110.80-for-a-fish-and-chip-supper-for-two!-jan-moir-puts-tom-kerridge’s-posh-take-on-the-british-classic-to-the-testAlert – The top chef charging £110.80 for a fish and chip supper for two! JAN MOIR puts Tom Kerridge’s posh take on the British classic to the test

Fish and chips twice with bread and butter and two nice cups of tea? Oh, yes please — but how much would you be willing to pay for this most traditional of British treats, this cosy and prized repast, this deep-fried diamond in our culinary crown?

Readers, I hope you are sitting down, for at Tom Kerridge’s Fish & Chips restaurant in Harrods, a chippy tea will cost you £110.80 for two, including the tea, bread, butter and a 12.5 per cent service charge.

Are these the most expensive fish and chips in Britain? Kerridge’s sky-high prices at the famous store in London’s Knightsbridge, must be hard to beat; £37 for the catch of the day (haddock, when I visited) with chips, three sauces plus the 12.5 per cent service charge, making a total of £41.63.

This is more expensive than Fortnum & Mason at The Royal Exchange (£26.88 per head including tartare sauce and 12.5 per cent service).

It is more expensive even than the famously swanky fish restaurant Scott’s of Mayfair, where haddock, chips and mushy peas is £32, but the final cost is turbo-boosted to £38.64 by their 14.5 per cent service charge, plus an additional £2 per person cover charge.

Are these the most expensive fish and chips in Britain? Tom Kerridge’s sky-high prices at the famous store in London ‘s Knightsbridge, must be hard to beat, writes JAN MOIR

At £37 for the catch of the day (haddock, when I visited) with chips, three sauces plus the 12.5 per cent service charge, making a total of £41.63, Kerridge charges more than Fortnum & Mason at the Royal Exchange and Scott’s of Mount Street, Mayfair

In his flagship Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall, and his riverside outlet in London, it is good old Rick Stein who offers the best value; haddock or cod with chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce is £28 in Padstow and £25.82 in the capital, both including service. It all adds up — or does it?

Kerridge, who runs several restaurants in the UK, including two with Michelin stars, has written numerous best-selling cookbooks and is an avuncular regular on television cookery shows.

He has been criticised for recently increasing the price of his fish and chips in Harrods from £35 to £37, although he always defends such charges, saying that quality costs money.

A few years ago, he told an audience at the Cheltenham Literature Festival that his menu prices were ‘easily justifiable’ because his chips were individually hand-cut from ‘incredibly expensive’ potatoes. Not just any common or garden spud, you peasants, but uber-tuber aristo-tatties with a pedigree and deep roots.

The chef has also said that fishing is a ‘dangerous’ job. No arguments there, although one wonders how much of the price he charges for his Cornish brill at Harrods (£45) is actually passed on to the Cornish fisherman.

Mr KERRIDGE once boasted that Oprah Winfrey enjoyed the fish and chips at his Bar & Grill restaurant in the Corinthia hotel in London. But if the price of his fish and chips keeps on rising like this, billionaire Oprah is going to be the only one left who can afford them.

So, is his fishy business worth the hype? I trot along to Kerridge’s Fish & Chips on the ground floor of Harrods to find out for myself. Situated in a corner of the revamped Dining Hall, it is one of six concessions — a sushi bar and steak grill are among the other choices — in a surprisingly elegant, lamplit space.

At the reception desk, an American father wrangling three children is assured that the 24-seat Kerridge’s is ‘family-friendly’ and bowls in with his brood. What a sucker, I think, noting that it’s £18 for a fish finger sandwich, £5 for a glass of lemonade and there is no kiddies’ menu.

Next to me at a bar seat, a woman wonders what fish to order and the waiter silkily upsells her a Dover sole, one of the most expensive items on the menu at £52.

Kerridge (pictured on ITV’s This Morning) who runs several restaurants in the UK, including two with Michelin stars, has written numerous best-selling cookbooks and is an avuncular regular on television cookery shows

The chef has said that fishing is a ‘dangerous’ job, although one wonders how much of the price he charges for his Cornish brill at Harrods (£45) is actually passed on to the Cornish fisherman

Everything else is extra — and I don’t mean that in a Beyonce way. I mean that if she wants new potatoes (£9.50) or a green salad (£8.50) it will cost more, plus the service on top, of course. When her order arrives, it is one of the smallest Dover soles I have ever seen, but who could have known? The menu details the calorie count of each fish (898 in this instance) but not the weight. How can one be valid without the other?

My posh chippy tea is actually very good; a really nice piece of fresh haddock, some fluffy Jenga chips, a decent tartare sauce; all of it attractively served, right down to the muslin-wrapped demi-lemon, while the hot bread roll and butter are excellent.

And, in Kerridge’s favour, it must be said that there is no end of fish and chip shops and pubs that will sell you ghastly fish that has been frozen in blocks at sea on factory ships, then carved into tasteless portions of anonymous marine meat. There is also no end of restaurants, even fancy ones, that will serve you fast-food style fries instead of proper chips.

Here you can see that care has been taken in an attempt to create and cook something authentic, although admittedly in ladies-who-lunch-sized portions and costing — shriek! — £1 per chip.

And it is not just the price that lends an unreal quality to it all, for at times it seems more like a culinary heritage experience than a real meal deal.

For example, the fish and chips are cooked right in front of diners in deep-fat fryers full of oil that oddly does not bubble up in the traditional way. Weirdly, nor is there any smell of frying food.

Then the fried items are placed in a heated cabinet which, the cook tells me, ‘sucks all the oil out’. This results in a texture that is dry rather than crisp — and not entirely winning.

Naturally, I convince myself to have a glass of wine to offset this potential life-threatening tongue desiccation, but get a mean pour of thin Chardonnay in a glass that could do with a polish; £12.

It is not just the price that lends an unreal quality to it all, for at times it seems more like a culinary heritage experience than a real meal deal

Still, no one comes to Harrods looking for a bargain. Next door the Food Hall is selling their infamous £28 Wagyu beef sandwiches alongside £18 lobster rolls, £20 rotisserie chickens and £7.50 croissants.

Back at Kerridge’s the restaurant is soon full of customers queueing for tables. Yes, they are mostly tourists but, let’s be honest, who else would eat here?

Still, it seems ironic that at a time when many traditional chippies are closing down or slashing their opening hours, this surprising market for luxury fish and chips appears to be flourishing.

Like oysters before them, are good old fish and chips making the journey from everyman grub to gourmet’s delight? That’s what seems to be happening.

At the moment, there are fears that over half of all UK chippies could face closure by the end of 2025, unable to cope with spiralling costs. The price of white fish, cooking oil and potatoes have all increased, while energy prices and operational costs add to the financial burden. Not to mention increased competition from kebab outlets, chicken shops and persuasive supermarket meal deals.

In chip-shop land, a cold wind is blowing through the deep fat fryers. Yet here at Kerridge’s Fish & Chips, where the grease-free air is perfumed and the pea fritters are £11 each, business booms.

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