Despite much bollocks written regarding Chicken Tikka Masala or Macdonalds pap or greasy painted Domino/Pizza Hut discuses being the most popular carry out meal in the UK, it remains the case that Fish and Chips remains our number one fast food. BUT, and here in Scotland it's a big but, the number of fish friers who still do it properly dwindles by the day. Fresh fish, not frozen. Single fillet, not butterfly. Haddock for me ( cod, I acknowledge, for my English cousins). A batter made from scratch, not from a giant sack of premix. Chips from the right kind of potatoes, peeled and sliced on the premises, soaked to remove the starch and (ideally) double fried - the second fry completed when your fish goes in to cook - ie after you've ordered, not two hours previously and then left to congeal warmly until the batter is like old chicken skin. For me salt and sauce - yes, an Edinburgh boy by birth. Opened straight outside the chip shop, hot and crispy straight from the paper - not steamed in its wrappings while you drive home to eat it tepidly with a glass of chardonnay - the vinegary vapours prickling your nostrils, the salt adding a bit of traction to help the batter and chunks of gleaming white fish slide deliriously down your throat.
All too often however, you dont get this and instead all you get is a calorie laden pile of flaccid cooked frozen fish past its sell by lying on top of soggy wet chips - a waste of all those precious fat calories. If youre going to indulge, then please God let it be worthwhile. So there's the usual suspects. Harry Ramsdens in Guisely, Bryans Modern Fisheries in Leeds, The Anstruther Fish Bar, The Bridgend Cafe in Inverbervie, what used to be the Little Chef in Tyndrum, The Ashvale in Aberdeen - but where are the others? Recommendations warmly received - and not alcohol fuelled memories of two in the morning suppers, where frankly a deep fried toilet roll doused in salt and vinegar would taste fantastic. And please, no jokes about the preposterously mythic deep fried Mars bar.