This is Manchester’s best chip shop

And from a man who used to hate fish and chips too…

By Ben Arnold | 11 June 2024

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If we’re honest with ourselves – really honest – Manchester’s chip shops just aren’t great. Much as it might be painful to admit, the chippies you find on the other side of the Pennines make us look like amateurs.

There are a couple of exceptions – Ancoats standard Tony’s, Wrights on Cross Street and Mother Hubbards in Salford spring to mind, as well as the Hip Hop Chip Shop with its travelling van and its sit-in place off Cutting Room Square.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that Dan Edwards, proprietor of Prestwich’s Chips @ No. 8, toured the chippies of Yorkshire when he knew he was going to open his own. Prior to that, he didn’t even like fish and chips.

“I opened up to cook my gran decent fish and chips,” he says. She suffered dementia, but her treat was fish and chips. “My sister and I were her primary carers, and we would go up, and she’d want fish and chips. 

Chips @ No 8

“I never ate them, but I’d sometimes break a bit off and eat it, and couldn’t understand why she was so loyal to this vile product. I just wanted to make her good fish and chips.”

He saw the ‘to let’ sign on the front of the chip shop at number eight Clifton Road in Prestwich, while visiting a chef friend who worked in the restaurant next door. There had been a chippy on the premises for more than 50 years, variously called The Village Chippy and, when Dan spotted it, The Place. “I thought ‘I can do that, and I can make my gran good fish and chips’,” he says.

“I went to go and tell her, and she was incredibly disappointed,” he laughs. Before dreams of frying chips, he’d worked for upscale hotel groups, as well as a stint at Hawksmoor. “She was in hospital at that point, and had a moment of clarity. She was very disappointed that I’d gone from working with, at times, A-list stars to frying chips in a chip shop.”

The day he signed the lease on the chippy, she died. “I never got to make her those decent fish and chips,” he says. But it was thanks to her, and some money she’d left him, that they were able to start what would become Chips @ No. 8, opening in 2018.

Chips @ No 8

One can’t help thinking that had she seen the queues that would begin to gather outside Dan’s place, snaking out of the door and down the road (he’s erected a marquee on occasion to keep people dry), that her heart would have swelled with pride.

But back to making fish and chips great again.

“I tried fish and chips in Yorkshire, and thought ‘this is a completely different product’,” he says. “Turns out it was beef dripping. I couldn’t understand why no one else was cooking in beef dripping.” (The short answer is that it’s more expensive – about 15% to 20% more expensive). 

Though increasingly rare, Yorkshire chippies have been cooking in beef fat since time immemorial. As well as the flavour it imparts, it can also be heated to higher temperatures. You can request chips fried in vegetable oil too, of course, and also a gluten-free batter for your fish. But let’s say the shop is generally pretty beef-forward.

Chips @ No 8

“I spent a week in Yorkshire, going to all the award-winning chippies,” he says, of his relatively brief research period. “My favourite was Millers in Haxby. They were named the best chippy in the country. They fry in beef dripping, and do pretty much what we do. David Miller was always on hand to give me advice, but most of the time, I’ve found my own way, seen what worked and what didn’t work.”

What arguably didn’t work was the size of the space, with a tiny frying area soon having to cope with queues of hungry people every night they opened. But he chipped (ahem) away, reducing the initial problematic 40 minute wait times down to 10 minutes.

Given his time again, he says he might have perhaps enrolled on a course to learn some of the basics, rather than jumping in pretty much blind. But the loyalty of his customer base suggests that he’s done something right.

Equally, he’s been nominated twice in what is referred to as the ‘chippy world cup’, landing in the prestigious top 20 in the whole of the UK, courtesy of the National Federation of Fish Friers, as well as Fry magazine’s top 50 four years running.

Thanks to such accolades, strong community support in Prestwich and word-of-mouth which has stretched well beyond North Manchester, supply has long since been outstripped by demand.

So now they’ve opened a new place. Next door. It’s more than twice the size, with eat-in seating to the side, and a bar, so you can sneak a pint in while you wait. Pretty ingenious if you ask us.

There’s a brand new restaurant space upstairs too. You’ll be able to order ‘from the chippy’ and ‘from the kitchen’, where newly recruited chef Craig will be in charge of the menu.

Originally from Miami, he will be serving up an agile menu of seafood specials, everything from tacos to kedgeree, with plans to open the upstairs restaurant all day from July. He’s also going to be doing all the gherkin and egg pickling himself too.

Chips @ No 8

In the takeaway, all the old favourites will be on the menu as usual. Dan’s frying cod, haddock and hake too, all at the same price (£6.90, with ‘mini’ chips at £1.60 and regular at £3), as well as the Oldham classic rag pudding (£3.70) and homemade fishcakes.

“People ask why we’re a bit more expensive,” Dan says. “Well our methods are a bit more expensive. Our raw ingredients are more expensive. We only use the finest ingredients on the market. Our pies are handmade [by nearby HM Pasties], our fish is caught in British waters, so nothing is imported.

“Our sausages fresh from Grandad’s Sausages, our beers are local too, from Brightside in Radcliffe.” They also blanch their chips at lower temperatures first, before a higher temperature final fry, meaning they’re using more energy, as well as rotating their beef dripping between fryers, so that the light batter used on the fish gets its naturally golden brown colouring from the more well-used batches of dripping. 

To our mind, there’s not a better chip shop in Manchester. Why? It’s not that deep, really.

“We don’t claim to be better than anyone else, we just do things a bit differently,” Dan says, humbly. “Some people prefer thicker batter, some people prefer single fried chops. We’re just trying to do what we do, and hope that people like it.”

They do.

Chips @ No. 8, 4-6 Clifton Rd, Prestwich, Manchester M25 3HQ

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