Open Tue–Thu midday–2.30pm and 4.30pm–10pm; Fri–Sat midday–10pm; Sun midday–9pm
What would WLL’s restaurant section be without a nod to the dish that made Britain great, namely fish ‘n’ chips? Kerbisher & Malt now have four restaurants but this one, in the leafy Hammersmith village of Brook Green, was the first. They offer up battered fish with a side order of ethics, which is important: it’s estimated that in 36 years’ time, all the fish will have run out if we keep depleting their stocks at the current rate. Less important but equally nice is that, in this fish ‘n’ chip shop, you can get a glass of wine.
A long bench down one side is for the sociable and we liked the fact that two burly-looking geezers were happily chowing down on a groaning plate as it proved it’s not just the chattering classes who come here. White tiles cover the walls, with old-fashioned lamps that look as though they might once have perched in submarines. A big wood-panelled counter at the back accepted the takeaway orders; Heinz tomato ketchup and Sarson’s vinegar bottles unashamedly adorn the tables.
The waitresses were smiley and non-snooty about our request for tap water. Wine is fairly priced, with carafes available and all the bottles under £20. London beers come from Meantime and fizzy drinks include the wonderfully named Orange Jigger. If, like me, you can’t resist a hot bag of chips giving off a hum of vinegar on a cold night or are a bit partial to a crispy fishcake (not caring why the interior is grey), the menu should bring a smile to your face. They do chip butties, they do fish finger butties and yes, you can order a side of bread and butter: deep joy. They also do calamari and whitebait if your tastes are a bit more refined.
My fishcake (£4) was a world away from the orangey chip shop disc. This was a chunky mash of fish containing tarragon, capers and black pepper. The calamari (£4.50) boasted an almost tempura lightness. Truth is you hardly need the starters though, because the main dishes are pretty generous. We ordered traditionally battered fish, though you can have it grilled or in matzo. They even recycle the oil into biofuel, bless ’em. Haddock (£6.70) came with a perfectly weighted batter (not too heavy) that dealt with the vinegar well while the pollock (£6.80) did a great, sustainable imitation of cod. Chips (£1.90) are properly double fried, a touch sweet and delightfully crispy. The tartare sauce (50p) had a satisfying tartness to it.
To conclude, what you’ve got is all the good bits about a chippy with none of the negatives. Nothing too greasy, no slobbering drunks and you don’t leave stinking of fat. Burgers have been rebranded in so many different ways it’s a surprise that chippies haven’t seen similar myriad transformations. Kerbisher & Malt is the blueprint for the future of chip shops. I couldn’t fault it.