It’s a brave man to go up against the might of famed Theobalds Road chippie The Fryer’s Delight, but Alen might just be the man to do it.
London is a trendy place. Sometimes it’s too trendy. And so when somewhere like Alens Chip Shop opens and reminds you of growing up in the capital as a kid and being taken to your local chippie (before concerns over childhood obesity, naturally), it makes you smile. This is a down to earth but nonetheless well put together chip shop. From the bright blue signage and welcoming windowed frontage with a couple of metal chairs outside, to the simple layout within, it’s lovely and laid back.
Inside, the neutral colour scheme is lifted with bold flashes of blue and the main serving counter dominates, with a board behind displaying the menu. Further in you’ll spy a few simple chairs and tables and little else - this is a proper chippie, one that evokes a time when modern art on the walls and industrial-chic light fittings were the exception, rather than the rule.
And it extends beyond the décor. You’ll be met with the warm smiles from people who have a new venue and want the word to spread. Helpful and not against a spot of banter, the service is quick, and if you need to wait a little longer for a piece of fish to be fried they’ll give you plenty of warning. As yet, only a few eagle-eyed local office workers have picked up on this place, and already the – mostly takeaway – orders are starting to mount up.
One board of food - that's all you need. A choice of different fish (battered, naturally), sausages, chips and pickled eggs - all the chip shop staples. The prices aren’t bad for this area either with most of the fish coming in at around £6, chips around the £2 mark, and a large battered sausage costing under £2. It’s certainly affordable for a lunchtime treat.
But is it any good? In a word, yes. The portions are huge, the batter is crisp (and not too greasy) and the chips are fat, proper chip shop chips - soft, a little greasy and incredibly tasty. And that battered sausage? Probably the most calorific thing in here but yes, it's worth those pangs of guilt. The sausage is slightly peppery, the batter wonderfully crisp and the whole thing well seasoned.
Go on, order a big fat can of coke to swill it all down with. You’ve just consumed about a million calories so go for broke. Soft drinks, juices, water… you know the drill. And you won’t be paying over the odds for the privilege.
The Last Word
More of this please London - there's no need for all the try-hard and trendy fish and chip shops. Alens goes back to what eating fish and chips is all about: big portions, quality fish, fat chips.