A trip to New York’s Little Britain Boulevard

Arnfield poses with his catch of the day.

Chinatown, Curry Hill, Little Manilla…New York is host to a slew of ethnic food enclaves, some more well-known than others. Among the lesser-known is a cozy corner of the West Village known, unofficially, as “Little Britain Boulevard.” Nicky Perry, the unofficial neighborhood’s official mayor, shows me the street sign that a civic insider made for her after an unsuccessful proposal to formally rename this strip of Greenwich Street just west of 7th Avenue.

I met Perry on an appropriately drizzly day at Tea & Sympathy, one of the three businesses she owns on the Boulevard. “It was my obsession,” Perry tells me over a pot of tea and a plate of soft, featherlight English scones (the English call ours “rock buns”). She opened Tea & Sympathy 22 years ago after moving to New York and discovering that “there was no place to get tea.”  

“And,” she adds, “Americans were making disparaging remarks about English food. What? That’s nonsense.”

Tea & Sympathy, which serves traditional British fare including Welsh Rarebit and Shepherd’s Pie (a lentil-based vegetarian version is available) as well finger sandwiches, cakes and crumbly puddings, soon made converts of many West Villagers. “Once you’ve had real tea,” she says, “you don’t go back.”

I tell Perry that I usually drink green tea, and she asks “Why?” When I mention “agave syrup” she calls into the kitchen, “We’ve had a breakdown with this one!” The diagnosis: I’m drinking crap tea.

“Here’s the thing,” she says, “English people drink their tea quite strong and quite flavorful and quite bold. And Americans are really used to the sweepings off the floor. ‘Gnat’s piss,’ we call it.”

Sipping my first cup of steaming-hot Typhoo, a blend dating back to 1903, I had to agree. Next door, at Carry On, Perry sells a number of loose and bagged English teas, as well as her own Tea & Sympathy blend, which will be available in bags beginning this week. The difference between her blend and Lipton, she says, is night and day.

“I mean, we love the Americans,” she says, “but your scones, your tea, your chocolate, and your Republicans…We could do without those.”

Another door down is Perry’s fish and chips shop, A Salt & Battery (www.asaltandbattery.com). Head chef Matt Arnfield has been cooking fish and chips since he was 9, at his family’s restaurant in England.

Although the store’s slogan is “In Cod We Trust,” Arnfield has been substituting line-caught pollock, haddock and sole for the traditional cod.

“It was overfished,” he tells me, “We were selling about 300 lbs a week, and I’m thinking ‘We shouldn’t be doing that.’ The pollock is a little further out to sea, but it’s still from a day boat, so it’s a day old. The company that I buy fish from, they have their own boat, so I can completely trust that it’s being harvested correctly. … It’s all hook and line; it hasn’t been bashed around.”

He serves me a basket of chips topped with a fillet of crisp, fried pollock and demonstrates, proper seasoning: salt first and then a few shakes of malt vinegar to “wash the salt through the dish.” He jokingly asks if I want ketchup and instead puts out his homemade tartar sauce, which is smooth and herbal.

Perry comes over and tears a corner off my fish. “THAT is fish and chips,” she says. “Crispy, not doughy.” That crisp, golden coating also comes wrapped around an assortment of molten English candy bars. Start with the Mars. Or for an interior layer of crunch, the Lion or Toffee Crisp.

A Salt & Battery delivers, but only within a short radius, to prevent against sogginess. Their delivery vehicle is a classic London cab that has been converted to run on used vegetable oil from the kitchen. “Except for the massive flatulence from the beans,” says “Perry’s husband, a fellow ex-pat whom she met when he was a customer at Tea & Sympathy, “We’re actually much better for the environment.”

The Oil-lympics

Are you strong enough to meet A Salt & Battery’s “I’m a Big Fat Ba$t@rd Challenge”?
If you can finish…

2 lbs of chips
1 lb of fish
1 serving of mushy peas
2 servings of tartar sauce
1 can of coke (regular or diet)

…in 20 minutes or less, you’ll get your name on the restaurant’s “Board of Heroes” and a t-shirt that says “I’m a Big Fat Ba$t@rd”. Additionally, if you accomplish this before the London Olympics end on August 12, Metro will print your picture. So far, only one person has completed the month-and-a-half-old challenge: A Salt & Battery employee John Weeks.

If you go

Carry On/Tea & Sympathy
www.teaandsympathynewyork.com
108-110 Greenwich Ave.
212-989-9735

A Salt & Battery

www.asaltandbattery.com/home
112 Greenwich Ave.
212-691-2713

Myers of Keswick
www.myersofkeswick.com
634 Hudson St.
212-691-4194



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

NYPD looking for man they say assaulted elderly…

      The New York City Police Department is asking for the public's assistance in locating a Hispanic male 20's wanted in connection with…

Local

Three arrested after allegedly assaulting off-duty officer in…

Three men were arrested early Saturday morning after allegedly assaulting an off-duty officer at a Bronx bodega, and the NYPD is asking for the public's…

Local

Healthcare union creates vibrant West Indian Day Parade…

Volunteers worked almost around the clock through the weekend, putting the flashy finishing touches on hundreds of costume pieces 1199SEIU members will wear while marching…

National

Top 10 most hipster college campuses

Hipsters are everywhere these days. You can't walk down the anywhere anymore without seeing a pair of skinny jeans on a handlebar mustachioed 20-something, a…

Arts

Theater: Discouraging 'Poor Behavior'

Theresa Rebeck's latest off-Broadway play, about two couples sparring on a weekend getaway, repeats a few mistakes of her past.

Gossip

Chef Todd English arrested for DWI in the…

Celebrity chef Todd English is facing DWI charges after a traffic stop on Sunday.

Movies

Box office: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is 2014's…

This weekend "The Guardians of the Galaxy" passed the fourth "Transformers" movie to become the highest grossing film of 2014.

Gossip

Spears back with controversial ex?

Is Briteny Spears back with Adnan Ghalib?

Sports

Novak Djokovic feeds off US Open crowd to…

Novak Djokovic isn't a native New Yorker, but he sure knows how to use the U.S. Open crowd to his advantage.

NFL

Odell Beckham still 'weeks away,' Tom Coughlin angry…

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has fought a losing battle against the media all preseason over the status of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…

Sex

When it comes to dating, height matters

Does a man’s height really matter when it comes to dating? Unfortunately - according to a new study - the answer looks like it’s yes.…

Travel

10 free apps to make traveling easier

Finding the nearest bathroom, calculating currency exchanges and locating your departure gate must have been difficult for travelers of previous generations. But we wouldn't know,…

Travel

How to get a seat upgrade to business…

It used to be much easier to upgrade your coach seat to business or even first class, but rigid rules and tighter schedules have made…