Golden Hind in Marylebone has been serving fish and chips for over 100 years. You can't make a reservation so there is always a line of diners waiting along the street outside (as there is also at Le Relais de Venise l'Entrecote on the opposite side).
Golden Hind was opened in 1914 by an Italian family and they tell us there have been just five owners since then. The current owner, Mr. Christou, took over the business in 2002 and has Greek staff working with him.
Its long history can't really be seen inside the small restaurant though. I understand the decommissioned antique enameled art deco foyer by F Ford of Halifax is still there but when I visited we were ushered into the extension that was added in 2014 for the centenary celebrations. It also meant I couldn't check if the celebrity photos are still on the walls.
The uncomplicated decor of white walls and wood paneling with basic wooden tables and chairs keep a nostalgic simplicity.
Golden Hind is included in the Best Fish and Chips in London.
The menu is kept simple with a choice of fish including cod, haddock, halibut, plaice and rock salmon. Add a portion of chunky hand-cut chips and a side of mushy peas and you have a classic British meal to enjoy.
At dinner, there was no takeaway option nor any small fish choices but I understand these are both available at lunchtime. There isn't a children's menu either but my daughter did well getting through a regular size cod.
Fish is offered in the standard battered style or as steamed with some dried herbs. We chose steamed and the cod was juicy and delicious.
Those chunky chips were not the golden color you may expect but I'm told this is the usual way they cook chips here and they were freshly cooked, not greasy, and still tasted great.
We found our meals to be very filling and enjoyable, although I was surprised chips were not included in the price of the fish (who orders just fish at a fish and chips restaurant?) Our bill was, therefore, a little more than I expected but the food is good and this place has a positive reputation for a reason.
The restaurant does not serve alcohol but has a BYOB policy (Bring Your Own Booze) and there are shops nearby that sell wine and beers. There is no corkage fee (you are not charged to bring your own drink) and the restaurant is happy to supply glasses.
Service wasn't great and it took a long time to pay the bill. By that time a couple had already been led to our table and were waiting for us to leave; literally standing behind my chair while I tapped my PIN number into the card payment machine. And then a side door was opened and I've never felt more encouraged to leave before. I can't imagine many diners feel like adding a service tip when this happens and I'm told I'm not the only way who thinks the service could improve.
But my thoughts will not stop the tourists from flocking here as it is in every guidebook. Golden Hind is considered a cultural institution by many but it really lacks the charm you may hope for. But the food is great so if you can overlook the rough and readiness of the service then it is worth a visit.
Address: 73 Marylebone Lane, W1U 2PN