Restaurant review: McDermott’s fish and chip shop, New Addington

By - Friday 28th August, 2015

Paddy Blewer salutes a world class chippie

5-7 The Forestdale Centre, Featherbed Way, New Addington, Croydon CR0 9AS
Time from East Croydon:  15 minutes (number 3),  10 minutes or 
 20 minutes 64,  10 minutes

Photo author’s own.

As a Waddonian for fourteen years who grew up in Wallington, I’d always heard of New Addington but had never really been. It might as well have been Bromley or Cheam. I knew that the place existed and where it was, but I didn’t know anything about it other than generalisations and cliches that we’ve all heard before and which are generally best ignored.

Then in 2012 a foodie mate tweeted me with the news that a Croydon chippie had won a national fish and chips award. The chippie in question was McDermott’s, which is located in New Addington, in the Forestdale Centre. Well, that was my reason to go and see New Addington because fish and chips is in my top five dinners… especially sit-down fish and chips with a pint of decent beer (more of which later) and good company.

First impressions are interesting. It’s situated in a concrete-shelled parade of shops serving a nearby estate that shows its age. The sixty space car park is a great example of Croydon’s cheek-by-jowl character where some of the richest in the country live next to their polar opposite. £100k Range Rovers are parked next to rusty escort vans and I reckon McDermott’s is the reason.

I’ve eaten fish and chips in Whitby and Cornwall and Sydney in celebrated places. They aren’t as good as McDermott’s. There’s a takeaway shop (which has a queue at all hours) separate from the main restaurant which is one and a half deep shopfronts. Nicely lit, big open windows, plenty of tables for two, four, six or more. It’s comfortably utilitarian but with a brilliant service team that hustles about with a smile for everyone. It’s an affordable if not cheap (since fresh, ethically sourced fish cannot be cheap) dinner out for anyone who can spare £15 to £20 per head. There’s a loyalty card for regular customers.

Don’t you dare go. You might take my table

The perfect combination.
Photo author’s own.

The reason they hustle is because they’re always busy and you often have to wait ten to fifteen minutes for a table for four. Half of Croydon seems to eat there. Warm bread with prawns and pâté are plonked on the table as you sit and look at a classically simple menu.

Cod, haddock, plaice, skate and rock with chips is your choice. There’s probably some chicken and other options, but I don’t know why you’d bother. Quite simply, the fish and chips is brilliant. Crisp dry batter cracks to reveal clean pearly white perfectly cooked flaky fish. The chips are dry on the outside, fluffy on the inside and taste of potato.

If you can take your nose away from the trough you meet the eyes of fellow diners and exchange a smile. It’s a communal environment. We’re all happy to be there. Builders sit next to teachers who are by some lads that work in the city, who sit next to a table of eight with three generations celebrating a birthday. The team’s great with kids. My two love it there and my oldest asks to go.

You can drink fabulous locally brewed Cronx Kotchin beer with your fish and it’s a truly great combination. The dry, hoppy beer is refreshing, complements the fish and manages to cut through what is quite a rich meal. You’ve got to come hungry and for those with big appetites there’s the ‘King Size’ which is more food than one should morally order. I’ve had it three times. King Size + two Kotchin = one very happy Croydonian.

Don’t you dare go. You might stop me and my family getting a table.

Paddy Blewer

Paddy has lived in the Croydon / Sutton area since 1983 and in Waddon from 2001- 2015. A communications advisor in the City, he loves the variety of Croydon, particularly its options for eating and drinking and its great parks for the kids. A sports nut, supporting Munster, London Irish, Surrey CCC and Spurs, he has a sneaking regard for Palace, despite having a Millwall fan for a dad.

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  • Gill Burn

    If you are from Croydon you should know that Forestdale and New Addington are two completely separate areas.

    • Bev

      We always taken friends from abroad there to taste proper fish and chips. They give you free little dishes of pickled onions and gerkins and of course tartar sauce.

    • Paddy Blewer

      Apologies for geographical error. As I hope the article made clear, I live on the other side of the borough and grew up a bit further away. Thanks for correcting – I’d always had it explained to me as NA. Are they at least adjacent to each other? It’s not like I got Thornton Heath & Purley mixed up?

      • lizsheppardjourno

        They are right next door – if it had been an error it would have been corrected. Forestdale is a very small (and attractive) area but its name doesn’t give most residents, let alone visitors, much of a clue to whereabouts they are heading :)

    • Anne Giles

      And very very different. There is no No. 3 bus from East Croydon. It is the T33.

  • Anne Giles

    It is the best South of the Borough, although we now use a place in Addiscombe and they are clients of the firm that my husband Steve works for. What we like is that they grill fish for us and don’t salt the chips or pour horrible vinegar on them. We both hate fish done in batter and we like to just put a little salt. We wouldn’t choose to eat out in a fish and chip restaurant though, as we prefer something a little more upmarket, serving trout, seabass, seabream, tillapia or even John Dory.

    • Kirsty Armstrong

      Wow. Just wow. Haughty or what about fish and chips? Why not name check your restaurant, or better still write a review so we can all judge your husband’s client?

      • Anne Giles

        Sorry – is this inverted snobbery then? The place I referred to is called “The Fish House” in Lower Addiscombe Road. We are all entitled to our personal tastes and fried fish in batter with fried chips gives me nausea. Why would I want to eat something which makes me sick? I cook fish most days at home – prawns with onion, pepper and garlic, or squid, or any of the ones I mentioned earlier – but never fried. I microwave, grill or bake in the oven, wrapped in foil.

        • Patrick Blewer

          Each to their own. I understand if you don’t like trad fish and chips, this isn’t the place for you.

          Your comment about downmarket feels a little unfair. Cod is a premium fish that needs careful sustainability regulations to maintain stocks. Plaice is delicate of texture but powerfully flavoured.

          As mentioned in the piece, I really like the communal atmosphere. City traders next to market traders. i don’t consider it downmarket as it does what it does superbly, to a very mixed audience.

          If you’re looking for upmarket fish, might I suggest Sweetings, Queen Victoria St, EC4. Outstanding grilled, poached, fried and cured fish with top quality drinks. 40 mins from East Croydon. Very “City” but certainly not “downmarket”

          • Anne Giles

            Thanks for the tip!! Actually, I do cook cod as well, wrapped in foil in the oven, with garlic, salt and pepper. Nice. I am glad you enjoyed McDermotts anyway. I know one of the staff, who is Peruvian. I helped her son (who serves there sometimes) with his Spanish GCSE! There is an upmarket fish restaurant in Croydon’s restaurant quarter, but very expensive. Carry on enjoying your traditional fish and chips though. I was brought up in Argentina, where it doesn’t exist, as we all ate steaks!

          • Anne Giles

            Also – the definition of downmarket means intended for people on low incomes, the price of eating fish and chips in a restaurant in Cambridge being quoted as £9.99, which is a cheap meal out. The definition of upmarket means intended for people on a high income, such as the Fish & Grill in Croydon’s restaurant quarter, where Dover Sole costs £22. Too expensive for me though! So to say that something is downmarket is not a criticism at all. It is merely stating that you can have a good meal there and not pay much.