Pretentious? Moi? Portland dives overboard on price of fish

There’s a new battle of the batters going on in South Norwood. Fish Wars has broken out.

Some are suggesting that, in the creeping advance of gentrification in SE25, it is a battle for the area’s sole…

Forget Britain’s Cod War with Iceland in the 1970s. Even the Scallop Spat in the English Channel with the French last month is tame when compared to war of words going on between the regulars in a couple of pubs near Norwood Junction.

And what’s this got to do with the price of fish?

In a word: Everything.

How much would you consider reasonable to pay for a plate of the staple British meal, fish and chips?

At The Albert on Harrington Road, it is £7.49.

But just round the corner, at the Portland Arms, the same meal will set you back £12.50.

Those old anarchist rogues the South Norwood Tourist Board described this as “A Tale of Two Norwoods” when they highlighted the disparity on social media, turning their Facebook page into SE25’s version of a price comparison website.

Reasonable: the Albert

Though posted without additional commentary, it seemed clear to most readers which plaice has their approval.

Which was when the manager of the Portland Arms weighed in with remarks which are surely worthy of multiple entries in Pseuds Corner, Private Eye’s regular column for those who are just a touch up themselves.

“I am not even going to try and compete with Greene King prices,”  the Portland wrote, referring to the brewery that backs the rival Albert.

“The Portland Arms is not a budget pub and we are proud of that.

“We serve a more premium product…” get that: more premium, “… to a much higher standard with care and attention and my staff and I are committed to ensuring each and everyone of our guests has an experience to remember.

“The pricing isn’t just about the product, it’s the whole experience… the quality, the service, the atmosphere… the attention to detail but above all else, the one-to-one interaction between staff and guest, ensuring that every guest has a personal experience that they remember. When you take these factors into consideration, The Portland Arms is exceptional value for money.”

One might wonder if the Portland Arms’ manager was employed to write PR bullshit for a Sandals luxury spa in the Maldives, rather than working behind the bar of a south London boozer.

Pricy: Portland Arms

Punters described as “guests”? Seriously?

It might be the sort of gentrification nonsense appreciated by the likes of architect Paul Scott, the Blairite Woodside councillor and power behind things such as People for Portland Road.

But it caused much mirth among more grounded SE25 residents, and the SNTB, whose spokesperson, calling themselves R Sole, told Inside Croydon: “What a load of pretentious codswallop.

“Paying an extra fiver for a fish supper for ‘an experience to remember’? Says who? For any normal person, it’s commonly known as going down the local for a few pints.

“Seems like the Portland risks disappearing up their own arse.”

Some have suggested that, at such prices, the Portland’s notion of overpriced pub food is just the fin end of the wedge.

Others are saying that they cod do better.

In the meantime, Inside Croydon will mullet over, because we hake to make rushed judgements, and we will update our loyal reader once we have assessed the real scale of the matter.

  • Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
  • Inside Croydon is the borough’s only independent news source, and still based in the heart of Croydon
  • “Monitored” by the council CEO since 2010
  • ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS 2017: Inside Croydon was source for two award-winning nominations in Private Eye magazine’s annual celebration of civic cock-ups
  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or a local event to publicise, please email us with full details at

About insidecroydon

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
This entry was posted in Paul Scott, Pubs, Restaurants, South Norwood, South Norwood Tourist Board and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply