TOFF'S:MATZO'D IN MUSWELL HILL
Another trip to the outer reaches of the known Universe, well Muswell Hill, to try and find London’s best Fish and Chips. Luckily, there was a bus to take me from my doorstep and drop me off right outside Toff’s in Muswell Hill Broadway (and luckily a downhill walk all the way back).
Toff’s has been around for about forty years or so and on my visit on a Saturday morning it was bustling and packed with a mixture of locals and the odd camera-toting tourist. I was asked by one of them about the origin of the fish knife but my rather hopeless reply was that it was to lift the flakes of fish rather than cut them and that it was historical. I could have said that fights were always breaking out in chippies and the blunt oddly-shaped knife was less likely to inflict a mortal wound, but that would have been just cruel and unusual treatment of tourists. I leave that to HS.
The menu covers all the usual fishy bases and this being North London you can get your fish cooked in Matzo instead of batter. I’d had a good experience with the Matzo method at Nautilus a few months ago so I’d decided to give my Haddock the same treatment again.
To get things going I tried Toff’s Fish cakes. Anthony Bourdain, during his world travels, talks about mystery meats, the non-specific meat that appears in local dishes of stew or pie (hmmmm…pie). I’ve a new category, mystery fish, as in it’s a mystery what sort of fish is in my fish cakes. As well as not really tasting of anything the fish cakes also had a rather tough coating.
The matzo had done the job of protecting my Haddock which was firm and flaked nicely. Unfortunately, the coating was very dry in texture and so was the fillet. Maybe because it was a little thin. Nothing wrong with the fish though which was fresh and tasty.
The supporting acts were a bit of a mixed bag: chips were very good, peas were ok and pickles came in the form of a couple of those long dill pickles (another North London regular). Tartare sauce was too heavy on the mayo. Tea was weak.
I doubt there’s much competition in the area but Toff’s, although a nice enough joint to spend an lunch hour in struck me as overpriced for what it delivers – a trip westwards to Nautilus would yield better.
PS And please note I didn't use a single limp pun about the place. Shit.