The Merchant Chippy


A SUNDAY night then and the family are on their way back from a weekend in Inverness. I’ve cunningly persuaded them to meet me at the corner of Ingram Street and High Street for none other than a good old fashioned fish tea.

This will kill two birds with one stone. Firstly, it means I’m not going to have to have dinner ready for when they come in. And secondly it will satisfy the request from bunker command on this very newspaper to review the Merchant Chippy immediately – on the grounds that it has just won a major UK award.

If I tell you I mentioned this award to the family to sweeten the deal and that I also promised that on a Sunday night it would be as quiet as a graveyard and we would be in and out quicktime – you know what’s coming next.

Yes, it’s bloody mobbed. People swinging through the doors, occupying tables, queueing at the fryer, counter staff bobbing to and fro, orders being taken, food being delivered.

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In the midst of all this you may have spotted me scanning walls and shelves, doors and windows to try to establish which particular award it is that the Merchant Chippy has just won. Considering the only place I’m not looking is the giant menu right in front of me you can appreciate why the girl behind the counter is eyeing me like I’m a giant strangeball. Never mind.

Thanks to the magic of going to the end of the queue and then employing Eating Out Rule Number 1 (never order anything unusual for the family unless everyone else in the place is eating it) one haddock supper; one scampi supper; one white pudding supper and onion rings are on their way.

No, this is not one of the new-style fish and chip shops where one can pay £9 for a haddock supper in artisanal hand-crafted batter with a glass of cava on the side. Good as they are.

Yes, there are sea basses and salmons and all sorts of non-traditional chippy things on the menu here – but I refer you back to Rule No1.

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If I tell you the next chapter in this story begins with me stopping the waitress and asking if she thinks that the burnt scampi looks burnt, well, we have a problem, Houston. Actually, we don’t have a problem. The waitress says that in fact all their scampi looks like this. On account of it having to cook for long enough to, er, cook.

She then asks a not unreasonable question: does it taste burnt? It actually does but, hey, life’s too short. Let’s say the scampi is not a triumph and the white pudding has batter that could masquerade as leatherette.

I may be wrong but I don’t think either of these are our mystery award winners. By now I have texted The Herald to ask what exact award they are talking about. As for those onion rings? Popular round the tables. And they seem to be coated in semolina. Weird. Not good weird for me.

Next, two things happen. One: my phone pings with an incoming message from The Herald. It reads, "Idiot – Read The Email We Sent Last Week." Two: I taste my haddock supper.

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Now, that email reveals that the Merchant Chippy has not (yet) won UK Chippy of the Year. Not necessarily a blow, as that award always seems to me to have less to do with actual taste and more to do with how tediously sustainable you are.

But (hurrah) the Merchant Chippy has been named as one of the Top 50 Chippies in the UK by Fry Magazine. This is astonishing news. I didn’t know there was a Fry Magazine.

Actually, the fish supper is excellent. The batter crisp, the white fish moist, freshly fried-to-order as it says on the wall.

And then I remember. I reviewed this place a few years ago and the most remarkable thing back then were the prices. That’s still the case. This haddock supper is £5.20. That alone deserves an award.

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The Merchant Chippy

155 High Street


Tel 0141 552 5789

Menu: There’s a bit of sea bass and salmon action going on, but good old-fashioned haddock suppers are where it is at. 3/5

Atmosphere: If you like the small sit-down chippy vibe, and I do, it’s cosy and borderline comfy. 4/5

Service: There was a rush when I was in, but girls pleasant enough and chatty even though we may not agree on the scampi. 4/5

Price: It’s number one selling point. Fish suppers £5.20, most suppers around £4-ish. Very good value. 5/5

Food: Good old-school freshly fried-to-order haddock with reasonable chips. Scampi and white pudding not so good. 6/10