Frith Road pie shop that’s keeping cockney tradition alive

Cockneys of CroydonThere’s an obvious anachronism in one of Croydon’s longest established and most-loved restaurants. Cockneys of Croydon clearly defies all sound wave science by being well out of the range of Bow Bells, the traditional definition of a proper cocker-er-nee. But their pies, mash, eels and liquor remain outstanding, as reviewer JAMES HUNDLEBY, of, found out

Eels, mash and the famous green liquor. But where's the pie?

Eels, mash and the famous green liquor. But where’s the pie?

Pie and mash is my hangover food of choice. It’s cheap, with no sharp edges, and it’s usually dished up in a compact, bright white tiled space, so it’s just like staying safely put in your own bathroom. But with food. How comforting is that?

Okay, so you often have to share a table with strangers, but in a pie and mash shop at midday on a Saturday, they’re normally more hungover than you and will avoid your eyes as well.

So I’m lucky to have Cockneys of Croydon, on Frith Street, round the corner from me. A family business, always rammed with locals, the staff are obliging and charming, and with reason – they’ve been confidently churning out pies, eels, mash and liquor for nearly 30 years. They even serve sarsparilla: it was once renowned as a cure for venereal disease, so I always have a bottle, just to be on the safe side. I live in Croydon, after all.

Entering Cockneys, the hungover may be encouraged by the Jack Daniels bottles on the tables. But no, we haven’t entered some kind of Hunter S. Thompson appreciation society: they contain vinegar. The only liquor you’ll find here is the parsley-flecked kind. Although they ladle it on with the abandon you were demonstrating last night.

The interior of Cockneys of Croydon is reassuring old-style, real London

The interior of Cockneys of Croydon is reassuring old-style, real London

The minced beef in the pie is darker, more finely minced and browned and so tastier than in some establishments I’ve visited.

And both the shortcrust pastry on the top and the suet on the bottom are always perfectly cooked – that’s got to be harder than it looks. They’ll give you gravy if the green liquor scares you. Sometimes I have eels: they’re fatty and soothing but it irritates the hell out of me to pick out that eel-spine in the middle – still, I am hungover, remember.

At Cockneys, rather charmingly, staff offer kids their pick from a tub of sweets while us adults calculate which pub they’re going to next.

There’s no problem lingering though. A stream of customers ebb and flow around us – families, Palace fans, couples, all happy to find honest grub, served at honest prices in a traditional setting. The wooden benching is deceptively comfortable, and if only they filled those Jack Daniels bottles correctly, we could make a day of it here.

  • Cockneys of Croydon is at 51 Frith Rd, Croydon CR0 1TB
  • This review and pictures were first published on MouthtoSouth and are republished here with permission

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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