After many years and countless false dawns, my prolonged search for properly good fish & chips in London finally reached a satisfactory conclusion recently at Geales. It was highly unlikely, then, that my very next fish & chip meal at Kerbisher & Malt on Shepherd's Bush Road would come anywhere close to matching, never mind exceeding, the Notting Hill stalwart. Nonetheless, K & M had been on my list even before my visit to Geales, so it was only fair I afforded it the opportunity to wrestle the crown for best fish & chips in the capital from my newly anointed champion.
I had Battered Cod with sides of Chips and Mushy Peas. The batter on the fish was really lovely - thin, crisp and beautifully golden, it just melted in the mouth. It was so good I didn't even feel the need to make much use of the Tartare Sauce (which was probably a good thing because the sauce, which had to be purchased separately for 50p, was overly tart and quite the letdown). The twice-cooked chips fell ever so slightly short of optimum crispness, but were, nevertheless, also very good. Both fish and chips were, commendably, utterly devoid of grease. Mushy Peas were just okay.
Amongst the other dishes, the Fish Finger Butty was decent but nothing special; Whitebait had a 'barely there' dusting of batter that was a little too ‘barely there’ for my liking (even allowing for the fact that whitebait is best showcased by a thin, rather than thick, coating of batter); Crispy Calamari was again lightly battered and moreish, but also not all that crispy, and recommended with a (separate purchase) Sweet Chilli Sauce that tasted very odd – rather like diluted maple syrup, with hardly any hint of chilli. My advice - stay clear of the peripheral dishes and stick with the excellent battered fish & chips.
In a nutshell...
Kerbisher & Malt makes all the right noises – sustainable fish, environmentally friendly packaging, no preservatives, no dirty oil – co-owners Nick Crossley & Saul Reuben making their “favourite dish the way they wanted”. Well their way is absolutely fine by me because it also happens to be some of the best fish & chips in town. Who would have thought it – two great fish & chip restaurant discoveries in succession. Now the all important question – which is better – Geales or K & M? Based on the battered fish alone, I give it to Geales, by the tiniest of margins. But taking everything else into the equation - K & M was better value (sauces sold separately notwithstanding), while other considerations balanced out fairly evenly – Geales had better whitebait and calamari, K & M had much better chips - I’m going to sit on the fence and declare it a tie.
Kerbisher & Malt
164 Shepherd’s Bush Road, Hammersmith, London, W6 7PB
Average Price: £10
Worth noting: Closed Mondays