Richmond is a strange place – one of the last relics of small town London, with its tiny streets and upmarket people.
Only the finest shops will do – chic little designer places for handbags and accessories, a House of Fraser tucked apologetically away in the corner and more glitzy Swedish bakeries than you can shake a sourdough stick at, each one rammed with lycra and buggies.
It seems strange to find a chip shop in the midst of this paeon to middle classitude, but it’s hidden on a back road like a dirty secret, not even bothering to smother its base nature in an acceptable outer coating of upmarket fish restaurant nonsense. This is a chip shop. Aged decor, shiny tables set a little way past the counter where you can have your food on a plate for a modest hike in price.
The small area for takeaway customers feels shabby in a carefully preserved way, like you're at one of those historical immersion museums that has women in little bonnets scrubbing washing in the front garden and overpriced boiled sweets sitting in jars in shop windows.
It’s not a nice place to be, the indifferent service means I grab my chips and scuttle off to nearby Richmond Green where I can sit on a bench in the sun and eat chips in between chasing off pigeons and assorted wildlife. The tiny portion, the indifferent service, they leave me with low expectations.
And yet – these chips are delicious. They have a lovely mottled brown finish and a greasy coating. The smooth potato and crunchy skin are sharply relieved by the generous splash of salt and vinegar. The thick sausage I’ve ordered on the side is full of flavour, almost doughy in its texture. It could be the fact that I’m sitting in glorious sunshine overlooking an expanse of green that positively screams good old days, but these are some of the best chips I've had recently.
It’s annoying that these chips are so good, frankly, because I didn’t enjoy getting them. Perhaps this old-fashioned take is merely a product of its time. The service was brusque in a very modern way, and £3 for a sausage and chips today represents a reasonable bargain in the wider scheme of things (especially in Richmond), but it could have bought you a house back in 1910.
Value for money: 6/10
Verdict: I hate you then I love you.