McDERMOTT’S: PROPER ENGLISH FISH & CHIPS!
As I was early, I wandered around to find somewhere to eat. I’d never been there before, and didn’t know the area at all.
Up a side street off the main road, I discovered a small parade of shops; a baker’s, a supermarket, and a fish & chip shop.
Now, as you regulars will be aware, Dear Readers, I have severe food additive allergies, and I still find it embarrassing to have to ask before I can eat, to check if they actually make their own proper, untouched food!
It’s really difficult to find a genuine fish & chip shop any more. I actually passed out after eating fish & chips once! The chips were ready-chipped, and treated with a chemical to stop them turning black. And the batter came out of a catering-sized tin.
But, oh joy! McDermott’s is a real, genuine Fish & Chip Shop!
And the sign, ‘Winner of the Best Fish & Chip Shop Award in the UK!’ stuck over the window was encouraging!
Although someone else makes the chips for them as they’re so busy, they’re real chips. They make their own batter, and also their mushy peas.
The cod was highly recommended by Donna, who has worked there for 1 1/2 years, and loves every minute of it!
I sat down and was brought an Amuse Bouche, a small toastie with a prawn in a cocktail sauce.
Then came a basket of French bread, which was a first for me in a chip shop.
Apologies, Dear Readers, but I was very hungry, and the smell wafting from the plate dulled my professional senses, so I covered it with tomato sauce before I took the photos!
When we lived in the Midlands, every chip shop sold mushy peas. But it’s still hard to find them here Down South. I loved them!
The chips were big. I believe that chips should be big, crunchy on the outside and soft inside. And oh, the batter! OK, we all know that I’m a Restaurant Reviewer, but, hand on my heart, it was one of the best batters that I’ve ever tasted. It was crunchy, and just the right thickness.
Don’t believe me? Well, go and try it for yourself then!
Sean McDermott came to talk to me as he’d finished the lunchtime cooking.
His father, Tony, was the eldest of 12 children.
He left Ireland and, with his wife Anne, went to Saudi Arabia where they worked as nurses.
Having saved enough money to start a business back in England, they opened a newsagent’s.
But Tony decided that, having tried quite a lot of chip shops, he could run one much better.
30 years ago next year, he opened McDermott’s Fish & Chips, and it’s still growing!
Sean has been working for his father for nearly 12 years, and he took over from his Dad six years ago, although Tony is still very much involved, and comes back to give a hand when he’s needed.
Obviously, Sean and his parents never go on holiday together!
McDermott’s is No 1 out of 250 Southern restaurants in Trip Advisor.
Their success is due to their quality and their reputation. There are no offices or industrial businesses nearby, and no passing footfall.
Sean told me that they have a very successful Loyalty Card Scheme. When a customer gets five stamps, the 6th meal is free.
They give away between 250-300 free meals a week!
Friday night is by far their busiest time. They expect around 1200 customers, both eating in the restaurant, and takeaways. They’ll be queuing out the door.
Five guys were working out the back, preparing fish for the evening. There will be 22 staff there on Friday night, and seven nationalities!.
McDermott’s doesn’t have a hotbox. Everything’s freshly cooked. And they use fresh oil every day.
I let Sean go home for a rest. He starts at 7am every morning, and he had to be back for the evening cooking. They still have traditional opening hours, although they’re planning to open on Sundays and Mondays as well, as there’s plenty of customers out there who would use it.
I asked Sean the secret of their success and he told me; ‘We do one thing and don’t overcomplicate it. We’re proud of what we do.’
Sean’s wife is expecting their second child in a few days’ time. They already have a girl, and this one is a boy. So the next generation of McDermotts is assured!
McDermott’s Fish & Chips
Forestdale Shopping Centre
Tel 0208 6511440
Opening hours Tuesday-Friday 12-2pm. 5-9.30pm.
Saturdays 12-2pm 5-9pm.