Inside London's oldest fish and chip shop

The Rock and Sole Plaice has been serving Londoners since 1871

London Experience: Come inside the oldest fish and chip shop in town

London Experience: Come inside the oldest fish and chip shop in town
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In the bustling heart of the city, nestled among the modern shops of Covent Garden, is the Rock and Sole Plaice, London's oldest fish and chip shop.

The National visited the shop and sat down with its dedicated owner, Ali Ziyaeddin, who is deeply intertwined with its storied past.

The shop – located in Endell street – was founded during the Industrial Revolution in 1871, its wooden doors bearing witness to times of peace and turmoil, prosperity and scarcity, including relentless bombings during the Second World War.

Amid the chaos, the shop, though struck, was never defeated.

The shop changed hands from a Jewish family to the Italian Ferrini sisters – Anna and Rachael – who later Anglicised their name. The shop was reopened in 1950 as The Negris Fish Bar.

The Ferrini sisters played an instrumental role in the shop’s survival, passing down their unique frying techniques, refined through generations, to the present owners.

In 1974, the shop was bought by two local men, Peter and Howard, who changed the name to the now famous Rock And Sole Plaice.

The current owners, in possession since the 1980s, share this dedication to maintaining the shop's historical spirit.

Mr Ziyaeddin, the owner, started as a potato washer and table clearer when he was only six years old.

He says that over the years, he learnt the nuances of the trade, understanding that no two pieces of fish are the same, and that the oil is as much a living ingredient as any other.

This historic shop also holds secrets from the war era.

It served as a meeting place for Spitfire squad leaders and was the hub where rationing of fish and potatoes was organised during the Blitz, feeding those who had lost their homes.

It is also known to have played host to notable figures from ex-presidents to top chefs, including Alain Ducasse, who has 23 Michelin stars to his name.

Yet the owner's humble philosophy remains unchanged: everyone, no matter their stature, deserves the same quality of meal.

Through all its changes, the shop has retained its character and charm, standing as a monument to history while feeding the souls of Londoners.

Updated: October 05, 2023, 12:39 PM