Monday, 22 March 2010

Sunday Fish 'n' Chip Supper - Murgatroyd's

Fish and chips are a real British institution. In the same way the original Harry Ramsden's fish ‘n’ chip restaurant, just up the road from me in Guiseley, was an iconic Yorkshire institution. However, from my own experience its popularity these days seems to rely more on tradition than on the quality of the food. Perhaps my last visit (which was admittedly longer ago than I care to mention) was not typical, but I’m pretty sure that Harry Ramsden's will not benefit from becoming a global brand - the business already has 35 restaurants and take aways in the UK and under its new owner Ranjit Boparan, owner of Boparan Ventures, is now apparently looking east to India and China for further expansion!

Luckily a few miles down the road is Murgatroyd's, built on the site of the old Moorfield Mill in Yeadon which was owned in the 1870's by enterprising local legend "Billy Murg". Architecturally the huge building is rather ugly; in fact it resembles a tacky American diner, and is very... green. However, I'm not there to critique the building and, looks aside, this place does proclaim itself to be "Britain's Finest Fish and Chip Emporium". Apart from anything else, somewhere that calls itself an "Emporium" must be good and it is evident from the people queuing out of the doors at peak times that Billy Murg was not the only one to believe this. I for another would be hard pressed to disagree.

Given their limited repertoire, it’s amazing how many fish and chip shops mange to get their product so wrong; all too often fish and chips end up a soggy, greasy unapetising mess. However at Murg's everything is cooked impeccably. The fish and chips served here never disappoint; they are consistently brilliant. Pescetarians beware, but the fact that they are cooked in beef dripping (as all good Yorkshire fish and chips should be) only adds to the attraction for me - it definitley makes for the crispiest, tastiest fried food.

Most of the wow factor is down to the quality and size of the fish. A thick fillet of fresh skinless haddock is cooked to perfection in a crisp golden batter that sticks to the fish inside; crack through the batter and the fish flakes away in giant white translucent chunks.

The chips are served in a generous scoop and are always mouth jugglingly hot. Soft and fluffy inside yet crispy outside they are everything you could ask of a chip and more. This place (or plaice if I am being particularly corny) really benefits from its popularity; a busy fish and chip shop does mean a queue but it also guarantees great fish and chips as high turnover in double quick time means everything is freshly cooked and, very importantly for fish and chips, served piping hot. Battered fish sat under bright lights in a glass coffin for hours is a sad end indeed for such a scarce resource. The mushy peas are good here as well. Often they are a disappointing grey colour, thin, watery and tasteless but these are of a prefect consistency, very green and perfectly seasoned.

The only question is over the sustainability. There are no declarations of sustainable seafood or where the fish comes from, which is a real concern for me. I've never quite liked to ask, just in case I didn't like the answer and the dilema it then would pose, but I have emailed them an enquiry and await a response. Watch this space for an update.
*Update* Murgatroyd's tell me that they source their haddock from Iceland. Icelandic haddock stocks are better managed and more sustainable than in other waters (for example other parts of the Atlantic, the north-east Arctic, Faroes and the Irish Sea) but there was no reference to them sourcing from a specifically sustainable fishery.*Update*

Eat in the restaurant or grab a take away and scoff it on the benches outside, you won’t be disappointed; these really are some of the best fish and chips you will ever eat.

In the words of Billy Murg himself "If tha' doesn't like this lot, there's summat wrong wi' thee".

Harrogate Road, Yeadon, Leeds, LS19 7BN


  1. My God, those pictures are making me insanely hungry, I can almost taste the intense pleasure. Alas, such an emporium does not exist in Budweis SADFACE!

  2. Reading this makes me want to book the next flight home (sadly not possible due to BA's strike!!) and get up to Murgatroyds quick smart for F&C. Like the blog but am finding it rather torturous, just want to eat everything on it.

  3. I went here when they won the perfect portion award last year. It was 10 am and I tried only a handful of chips. They were good. I know they fry in beef dripping which upsets some people- but it is what makes the chips so crisp and tasty.

  4. Hi Katie! You were very restrained in only having a handful! I saw your blog post on the perfect portion a while ago. I always thought they coooked in beef dripping but wasn't 100% sure (until you just corroborated it). So when I mailed them about the provenance of the fish last week I actually checked that too - they are cooked in beef dripping and you are right it does definitly add a good crunch and flavour.

  5. Hah! We go to Murgatroyd's all the time as just live ten minutes away - It's good, good fish and chips all the way. And yeah - the beef dripping is the only way to do it. Don't accept anything else!!

  6. That looks soo yummy. we have a mobile fish and chip van that arrives in our village every thursday evening, think i need to see if he has a website that you vcould look at, really great fish and chips

  7. Anyone passing over the moss from Yorkshire into Lancashire should definitely stop at Cowling Chippy. It's a little cabin next to the main road and it's the last proper fish and chip shop before Lancashire (where you can't get good f & cs - they're all cooked in oil). They're absolutely delicious.