If there's one meal capable of bringing both great joy and inconsolable sorrow, it's surely fish and chips. Good fish and chips is a wondrous thing indeed - properly crispy batter concealing soft, flaky fish; big fat chips with fluffy middles and a few scrappy bits at the bottom of the tray; more salt and vinegar than any normal person would ever want. In short, it is a thing of great beauty. Unfortunately, standards vary, and too many chippies serve up greasy, soggy fish with anaemic, under-cooked chips...I'm almost weeping at the thought of such travesty. Still, if the purchasing of fish and chips is a gamble, all the more reason to rejoice that purveyors of fine fishy wares The Hip Hop Chip Shop have taken over the kitchens at Kosmonaut in the Northern Quarter for the foreseeable future.
The new venue feels like a good fit for Hip Hop, who have been seeking a new home since the end of The Kitchens project at Spinningfields - Kosmonaut has decent beers, loads of space and always has a good atmosphere, plus it's right in the middle of the NQ rather than tucked away at the bottom of town. The new menu features Hip Hip favourites (the Battered Halloumi Fingers are on as a side and a main, and Feastie Boys -
battered fish biters, chips, minty mushy peas, tartare sauce - and the splendid Shell L Cool J Burger - Louisiana spiced crabcake, battered smoky bacon, spicy ‘slaw, brioche bun, chips - are on the mains) as well as some new dishes, the standout of which is the DJ Kool Jerk - jerk batter fish, battered plantain and scotch bonnet pickled pepper. The Chilli Batter Onion Rings remain superlative, and the Minty Mushy Peas are still, for me, the best in Manchester; we also very much liked the Pea Fritters and have both become a bit obsessed with the Curry Sauce and the Black Sunday Gravy (which takes between three and several hundred days to make, depending on who you speak to).
In fact, we liked it all. We like the Hip Hop Chip Shop, we like the beer at Kosmonaut, we like the music (NWA + DJ Kool Jerk = v.g.), and we like the menu, which has a decent range of veggie and meat dishes as well as the obvious fish ones, and just shows what a permanent kitchen can do for you. Yes, it's all a bit deep-fried, but there's still far more range here than you'd get at most chippies, and anyway, there's wholesome booze to wash it all down with. The dishes you see here were part of a preview tasting and thus some of the dishes are not full size (and the crabcake is completely stark naked, apart from its 'slaw) - Hip Hop are not shy with portion size so you'll often get a bit more than seen here. And if fish and chips is more of a takeaway thing for you, they'll soon be on Deliveroo, thus rendering movement from the sofa completely unnecessary.
- You can find Hip Hop Chip Shop at Kosmonaut 4-9pm Mon-Thurs and 12-10pm Fri-Sun (full menu here); the van will also be taking up residence at Trinity Leeds for the next six weeks. This was a preview event with complimentary food but they had my cash off me plenty of times at The Kitchens and will continue to do so now.