Monday 22 December 2008

Olley's, Norwood Road, south London

A famous fish and chip restaurant in a dilapidated row of shops facing Brockwell Park, Olley's has acquired a bit of a theme-park feel. The interior is a riot of blonde wood, exposed brickwork and kitsch tiles. The large plastic menus list just about every possible connotation of fish and chips (£9-£22), plus some tempting seafood starters, such as ginger and garlic prawns (£4.95) or grilled sardines or mackerel (£4.95). At lunchtimes, you can get a haddock, cod or Nile perch and chips with mushy peas for £7. The haddock is a tender, but modest, piece of fish, nicely-cooked in a fine layer of surprisingly ungreasy batter. The fat squidgy chips are very filling, but the side salad, consisting of shredded lettuce and a tomato slice, is lame, while the messy mushy peas are not to everyone's taste. You can wash it down with a bottle of Bud (£2.70), another beer or a glass of wine. The kids' options (£4.50 including a small drink) are pretty substantial. They include five large calamari rings caked in batter or a sea food platter, featuring mini, battered portions of calamari, goujons, scampi and fish, both served with an adult-size helping of chips. Fussier kids might opt for the long, low-meat content sausage, which you can have without batter, plus chips. The waiters, kitted out in white, are friendly, but the service can get very slow in the rare event, such as an end of term lunchtime, that Olley's is full of middle-class families mixing it with the more earthy regulars. 7/10