UPDATE: June 2017. Reel has now closed.
YOU'RE all small-plated out. You’ve had your fill of sharing platters, skinny lattes, burrito bars and chicken skewers.
And in this Brexit age, you can forget all you’ve learned and enjoyed about fruity Mediterranean diets, olives, manchego and sun ripened European cuisine. You're not going to be able to afford it anyway.
One dissenting online critic was silenced with this reply from owner Tony K: 'Just eat your small chips and mind your own business div'
But while the pound in your pocket might be plummeting, you can still gather one or two around your waist. Nobody is going to starve to death on a traditional chippy tea – that's fish, chips and mushy peas - half a kilo of gastric joy weighing in at 850 calories.
Last time we did this test in 2012, we surveyed the Whitechapel Lobster Pot, the L1 Chippie (gone) and some place on Berry Street (gone). We won’t be going back to the one that’s still open.
With places like The Good Catch, the bar has been raised, considerably, since then, but could these all reach it?
Read: Review: The Good Catch
Please note: If you like your chippy tea wrapped - resulting in a steamy, soggy, greasy dinner - then look away.
In our test, we make sure there is a seating area in each shop because we wanted to sample the fish and chips in optimum conditions; straight out of the frier; crispy, crunchy, gorgeous. All of them came in a cardboard box with a slice of lemon.
All of them served inedible bread and non butter as a side, so there will be no further mention of it.
Other than that, what could possibly go wrong?
World Famous Dockland Fish & Chips, 12 The Colonades, Albert Dock, L3 4AA. Tel: 0151 707 2333.
There is water, water everywhere you look at this attractive quayside cafe, unfortunately that doesn’t extend to tap water in what is a licensed premises.
“We don’t serve it on health and safety grounds,” we were told by a sombre member of staff who instead suggested a bottle of water for £2, although the menu says it’s £1.20.
Pay by card? No chance. But we were pointed to a cash machine outside The Beatles Story which charges a commission. Take into account the hefty car parking fee and we were just under twenty five quid down by the time we left.
The deal: Traditional fish dinner (scampi, haddock or cod) with mushy peas: £8.95.
Fish cooked to order: Yes.
The feel: With all this financial outlay, and with all this quaint nauticalia surrounding us, we had high expectations of a whopping great Moby Dick writhing out of the box. What we got was not exactly a tiddler, but we’ve seen bigger - and, it has to be said, livelier.
The promising looking batter gave way to a rather faded and dry haddock which could not be saved by the pallid chips beneath, which one felt were no stranger to the frier. The polystyrene cup of mushy peas at least contained some of the water we were, by now, beginning to dream about.
A Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence is displayed so perhaps it was just us. Perhaps not. One dissenting critic was silenced with this reply from owner Tony K: “Just eat your small chips and mind your own business div.”
Reel, 46-48 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool L3 5SD. 0151 708 9074. Website
With a branch in Bolton and with roots stretching to 1990s Widnes, Reel is on the up and is currently offering franchising opportunities. Pharmacist turned chippy owner Kazam Ali says: "I wanted to recreate that proper English fish and chip shop. It’s in the family — even my dad’s brother had a chippy."
Thousands of students walk past this pleasant joint every day and the prices are keen enough to “Reel-em in”.
The deal: Regular fish, chips, a side and a drink, £4.99.
Fish cooked to order? Yes, but make sure you ask.
The feel: Kaz has clearly put a lot of thought into this place - there are nice touches like non brewed condiment sold by the bottle on the counter. There are a lot of tables, too, for the ready supply of customers.
Staff are welcoming, free tap water isn’t a problem, and it's quite spotless but we found inconsistencies.
The fish, a huge, gleaming fresh cod with the best of intentions, was badly let down by the batter which, although tasted fine, suffered from way too many dark oily flecks. The use of poor quality potatoes, which really ought to have been sent back to the supplier, had rendered the chips completely unappetising.
Another visit a few weeks later yielded much better chips but the fish was thin, in a very thick swaddling of batter which was less flecked. A milkshake straw was all that was really needed to suck up the cup of mushy peas. And this time no fancy box, just a polystyrene container.
WINNER: Yanni’s, 31-33 Lord Street, Liverpool 2 0151 345 3794
Cyprus-born Yanni has worked in chip shops for 16 years. He took over what was the L1 Chippie last year after the term frying tonight was taken a bit too literally and the place burned down - and all the plaice in it. Did that lead to weeping and gnashing of false teeth? Strangely no.
Have no fear, people. Larnaca’s loss is Liverpool’s gain
The deal: Large fish and chips and mushy peas £6.95. Bottle of water: £1
Fish cooked to order? YES
The feel: Nothing that was ever any good came quickly, so take a seat at one of the light aluminium tables while it is cooked to order. However 15 minutes staring lovingly at the Debenhams opposite - or nursing a pinch of salt while reading some glowing Tripadvisor reviews about Yanni’s - soon passes by.
Brought to the table, by a polite and efficient server, it certainly looked the part. The cod was a bonny, fresh specimen, served up a bone dry, crisp and light batter. The chips were puffed up with freshness and the mashed up marrowfats were green and lush.
We had fish and chips at Rick Stein’s in Padstow earlier this year. As you might expect, it was good. As we perhaps didn’t expect, so was this. And when Yanni asked, we told him.