When a craving for fish and chips kicks in, it has to be satisfied perfectly. Happy Days just about manages to give you that fix, even if it seems a bit expensive for what it is.
Despite being surrounded by the stalls of Petticoat Lane Market, Happy Days can be spotted easily with its fairly large canopy and outside seating area. Once inside the restaurant (using the door on the left), it’s not quite what you would expect from a fish and chips restaurant: exposed brickwork on the back wall is the first thing you notice, along with the warm beige and brown décor. Framed art pictures, marble-effect wall lampshades and a rather large black and white photo from the '40s of fishmongers at a market stall help the place to steer clear of the cheap and greasy diner sector it could easily fall in to. Getting the numbers in is clearly very important, as the wooden tables and chairs are pretty much back-to-back, which isn’t a problem until the restaurant is full to the brim.
Filled with loads of workers on their lunch break, it’s clearly a popular choice for many in the area. Overall, the staff are very attentive and helpful but being asked to order just two minutes after being given the menu means you can't help but feel like you're being rushed. Also, perhaps because some seats are behind the fryers (so essentially the kitchen) and bar area, a slightly unsettled and hurried atmosphere is felt as the staff seem to be dashing from table to kitchen – an aspect of dining usually hidden.
Although it fulfils your cravings, it doesn’t come cheap if you choose to eat in – haddock and chips comes to £9 and cod and chips isn’t far off at £8.50. In its defence, the portions are huge and they will keep you full, but you should want more for the best part of a tenner. The chips are pretty standard and the batter could do with being a bit crispier, however the haddock itself is beautifully flaky and soft. There's also very little grease on the plate, which takes away some of that nagging guilt you get when eating a hefty lunch full of fried food. If you do fancy something different there's scampi, whitebait, sausages and pies all available, as are some grilled fish options if you want to go for the healthier alternative. If you can fit them in, desserts are available including a few ice creams and traditional puddings.
Most visitors will only order coffees, teas and other soft drinks but Happy Days does have a small but adequate list of alcoholic drinks on the menu including beers, wines and spirits. The cappuccino (£2) though, is surprisingly good – the perfect temperature and just the right amount of foam.
The Last Word
Quite pricey and with a diner feel to its decor, Happy Days might not be the best place to go. But thanks to massive portions and fresh ingredients, it’s become a very popular choice for those in the area looking for some good old fish and chips.