Olley’s Fish (and Wine) Experience Herne Hill

Peter Morrell visits this iconic fish and chip restaurant to match their food with a range of English wines they are now stocking

Since 1987 Olley’s has been serving superior traditional fish and chips to the South London community. The restaurant is named after Oliver Twist the famous character from Charles Dicken’s novel as fish and chips was popular at the time the book was written

In the 30+ years since it opened the shop has added a restaurant which has the olde world atmosphere of the mid 1800s Other innovations have included the introduction of gluten free batter and gluten-free beer on the drinks list.

Olley’s latest development is the listing of a range of superior English wines which can be paired with their menu. This isn’t the most obvious pairing of food and wine so I went along recently to see how the combination of two great English products worked.

I started with battered haddock matched with Chapel Down Bacchus from Kent and Litmus Bacchus from Surrey. Bacchus is one of my favourite grapes so I had high hopes. The first wine had good citrus and tropical fruit flavours and a crisp acidity that handled the batter well and complemented the flavour of the fish. The second wine was also good with more floral aromas and a good deal of minerality on the palate which enhanced the fish.

The next was Jenkyn Place Brut from Hampshire, I’ve been down to this vineyard and it’s producing some excellent sparkling wines. The Brut was no exception, this was sipped with battered cod, It features the classic blend of Champagne grapes and offered fuity aromas on the nose and yeasty brioche on the palate. The balanced acidity worked well with the cod.

Battered salmon was the next dish and this was paired with the Litmus White Pinot Noir. This was an intriguing wine with exotic fruit and sweet floral aromas on the nose. On the palate it was full bodied with smooth and complex flavours underpinned with fresh acidity. The finish was firm and persistent. The strong flavour of the salmon worked well with this.

A prawn cocktail was the next offering sitting alongside two sparkling wines, the Ridgeview Fitzrovia Sparking Rose from Sussex and the Chapel Down Brut from Kent. These two producers have an excellent reputation and these sparklers were a demonstration of the quality of English wine. The Ridgeview had fresh raspberry notes on the nose and the palate had honeyed tones with good citrus acidity. Its delicate flavour sat well with the prawns. The Chapel Down exhibited its usual high standard. There were plenty of fruit and floral notes in the bouquet with a yeasty palate with well balanced acidity.

Probably the most difficult of all the pairings was the grilled herring on deep fried bread. The accompanying Jenkyn Place handled it with aplomb, an oily fish is always difficult to match with a drink but the bubbles and the lively acidity did a remarkable job in cutting through to the flavour of the herring

Bolney Pinot Noir from Sussex is another vineyard I’ve visited and watched as the quality of their wines improve by the year under the watchful eye of winemaker Samantha Linter. It was matched with gluten-free battered hake. This delicately perfumed fish worked well with the light bodied pinot, the cherry flavours and tannin were not overbearing and allowed the fish to shine through.

The final pairing was battered lemon sole with the Lyme Bay Shoreline Bacchus from Dorset. I was pleasantly surprised with the wine, it had crisp citrus notes of lemon and grapefruit and was dry and with bright acidity working well with the flavoursome fish.

This had been an eye-opening experience, the food was several cuts above the standard chippie fare and its a tribute to the English winemakers who have upped their game immensely in the past few years.

All of the food and wine is available from the standard menu

Olleys Fish Experience
65 – 69 Norwood Road
Herne Hill
SE24 9AA


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