Gilly’s Fry Bar closes North London restaurant with big plans to open in the West End

Gilly’s Fry Bar is to move to the West End after a successful opening in Finsbury Park.

Neil Gill, who styled the restaurant on the Sunderland chip shops of his youth and a classic Japanese izakaya (pub), closed Gilly’s on Wednesday with a more central launch to come later this year.

“We’ve had such a great reaction from everyone who’s been in that I want to be somewhere where we’ll be exposed to as many people as possible, right in the heart of London,” Gill told Hardens.

“But I don’t want to spread myself too thinly. I’ve been in the kitchen at Gilly’s more or less every day, cutting and battering the fish myself, and I don’t want to lose that attention to detail.

“It’s a tough time for many London restaurants but that means there are great opportunities too.

“I’m very excited. Battered fish (and fried food in general) is obviously one of the great British culinary traditions.”

Gill said his new venture will continue to pay homage to the affordable chippies of the North East, while blending the concept of fresh fish and batter with the more refined Japanese style of fried cooking.

He said his time working with Alan Yau inspired him to “elevate” the humble fish and chips dish while still focusing on great produce.

Gill added: “Hopefully with Gilly’s Fry Bar we’ve shown that done properly, battering can be a really simple, effective way of presenting ingredients – which is why it’s my favourite technique.”

The chef didn’t say where exactly his new restaurant will be, but hinted at a site in or around Soho, which would not be at all surprising. The exact opening date is also unknown.

Gill said that while Gilly’s Fry Bar did well and caught the attention of critics – notably Grace Dent – Finsbury Park proved a tricky location, with a limited passing trade.

At the West End restaurant, Gill’s menu will be largely the same – think chip butties, pickled onion martinis and cod fish cakes – but with new additions and rotating specials.

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