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Eat My Words: For National Fish and Chips Day KentOnline goes to Papas Barn in London Road, Ditton

It doesn’t get much more British (or better) than fish and chips, so when I heard there is a special day dedicated to the dish there was only one way to celebrate.

I picked Papas Barn at Ditton, near Maidstone, as unlike most chippies, customers can sit in a traditional restaurant –although it does also do takeaways.

I celebrated National Fish and Chips Day by visiting in Papa's Barn in Ditton
I celebrated National Fish and Chips Day by visiting in Papa's Barn in Ditton

The business has sat on the edge of the busy A20 since 1966 and served countless customers, so should know its stuff. Walking in, it’s hard not to notice the celebrity pictures cascading down the wall.

There’s mentalist Derron Brown, actor Kevin McNally from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but the biggest name for me was Shaun Williamson who played Barry Evans in EastEnders – who doesn’t like a bit of Shaun?

I’d rocked up rather late on a Tuesday – only an hour until closing – but people were still enjoying evening meals.

The waiter said it was the quietest they had been all day but there were still four or five groups tucking in.

There was no need to peruse the menu, I was there for one dish only. However, the £16.50 price did make my eyes water as it was the most I’ve ever shelled out for fish and chips.

Halloumi fries with a sweet chilli sauce
Halloumi fries with a sweet chilli sauce

If you’re ordering online and taking away, you can knock nearly a fiver off that price - so make sure you enjoy the full dining experience.

As a starter, I went for halloumi fries with a sweet chilli sauce and although it costs £7.70, you wouldn’t be complaining about the portion size. Fried halloumi can be a bit rubbery but these fries were cooked just right – a tasty blend of soft and squidgy.

Five minutes after finishing, my main course arrived, albeit without the tartare sauce stated on the menu. Nevertheless, the dish was substantial and looked impressive.

The fish was delicate, and light, and very little sign of grease on the plate. I combined it with the tartare sauce and a side of mushy peas and made my best attempt at finishing it before moving on to the chips.

Now, I’m always criticised for this but my preferred choice of sauce when it comes to chips is a mix of ketchup and

Main course: Fish and chips with a side of mushy peas at Papa's Barn in Ditton
Main course: Fish and chips with a side of mushy peas at Papa's Barn in Ditton
Me enjoyng a halloumi fry
Me enjoyng a halloumi fry

Many disagree, but for me, there’s nothing better. I concocted my mixture and began ploughing through the thickly cut chips. They were fluffy and well seasoned, and combined with my sauce were a great way to finish my

Overall it was a good dining experience and the service bang on. The entire meal took no longer than 25 minutes from ordering to paying. All in all the bill came to £34 - about double what I pay at home - which did raise eyebrows back in the office. But again, I tend to get a sausage instead of the cod and no drinks -plus you pay that bit more to eat in. And with National Fish and Chips Day only coming around once a year, it was a great way to celebrate.

If you want to see the other fish and chip shops our KentOnline reporters have rated over the years, click here.

I was defeated by the meal in the end
I was defeated by the meal in the end

Will you be tucking into the classic British dish today? If so, email me your preferred chippy location and a picture.

Drink: Can’t really rank this for I only went for a Coca-Cola but there was a good selection of both alcoholic and soft drinks ****

Decor: The wide open windows gave a very airy feel and nautical ornaments gave it that classic seafood feel, it wouldn’t be out of place on a seafront. Not the business' fault that instead, it looks upon a busy A-road. ****

Staff: Friendly efficient staff at all stages of the process *****

Price: The price of fish and chips is going up everywhere. I know you pay extra for sitting in, but even still, £34 seems a bit much ***

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