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Food and Drink

Who sells the best deep-fried Mars bar in the north-east? I visited 9 chippers to find out

The battered Mars bars from The Ashvale, Lows Traditional Fish & Chips and Balmedie Fish & Chip Shop, among others, were put to the test. reports.
Karla Sinclair
My journey started at The Carron Fish Bar in Stonehaven. All images: Karla Sinclair/DC Thomson
My journey started at The Carron Fish Bar in Stonehaven. All images: Karla Sinclair/DC Thomson

If I were to stop you in the street and ask what treat you think the north-east is most famous for, I guarantee you’d say a buttery/rowie or a deep-fried Mars bar.

While I’ve tried a lot of butteries – yes, that’s what they’re called, end of debate – in my time, I’d only tucked into one deep-fried Mars bar prior to last week.

Have you ever tried a deep-fried Mars bar? Image: Shutterstock

It got me thinking, what north-east fish and chip shop serves the best? And how different could they be?

To find out, I stopped by nine businesses that offer the battered dish in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to compare and contrast their versions.

Read on to find out which businesses I visited, as well as the cost of their battered Mars bars and what I thought of them…

Day 1: Visiting The Carron Fish Bar, known as the deep-fried Mars bar’s ‘birthplace’

To kick things off, I thought it was fitting to visit well-known Stonehaven chipper/chippie The Carron Fish Bar, located on Allardice Street.

The Carron Fish Bar is a hot spot for locals and tourists in Stonehaven.

Why is the business well-known? Well, it’s considered the birthplace of the deep-fried Mars bar.

The tale of how the creation was made is written on one of the walls inside. A lovely touch, and I imagine it’s handy for the staff to point it out to customers with questions about its backstory…

The history of the deep-fried Mars bar.

They must get asked a lot.

People travel to from far and wide to try the delicacy – including celebs like Radio 1 presenter Greg James, who visited in November.

I stopped by at lunchtime last Tuesday. In the space of five minutes, roughly 10 customers were also waiting on/placing orders.

Three of them heard my request for one deep-fried Mars bar and proceeded to add a few to their order, too, and thanked me for reminding them as they’d wanted to try it.

My order cost £2.60.
All the Mars bars were tasted in style – in the car.

I was charged £2.60 and before I knew it, was handed my battered chocolate bar in a small bag.

The taste test took place in my car. The batter was pale compared to the others I tried – which I’ll get to soon – and more on the greasy side.

On tasting it, the batter flavour dominated and I didn’t get much of the sweet chocolate or caramel.

I took a few bites before making my way back to Aberdeen.

Day 2: More lunchtime pitstops, this time in the Granite City

The following day was a big one. I tried not one or two, but six deep-fried Mars bars…

I feel a bit uneasy at the thought of it now. My stomach was suffering for a few days, but (believe it or not) it was worth it.

Located on Aberdeen’s Chapel Street, Herdy’s Dolphin Fish and Chips was my first pitstop.

Outside the Chapel Street fish and chip shop. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

My visit lasted around 10 minutes as I had a lovely chat with Graeme Herd, who owns the business’ three branches.

He said that in total, his shops sell roughly 150 to 200 deep-fried Mars bars every week.

“We’ve sold eight in one go [on occasion],” Graeme added.

Graeme Herd. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Priced at £3, this was the most expensive out of all the fish and chip shops I visited. However, it was fantastic.

The chocolate was the most standout flavour this time around and the bar had been coated in the perfect amount of batter.

I ate the lot.

My first deep-fried Mars bar of the day was a treat.

Then, I called some neighbouring Granite City fish and chip shops that were open (at lunchtime), and found out that Oor Wullie’s Braw Fish & Chips, Rosehill Fish Bar and Davy’s Fish Bar don’t offer deep-fried Mars bars.

Not to worry, as I made way for Lows Traditional Fish & Chips in the Berryden Business Park.

A helpful member of the team said that while they don’t have Mars bars in stock, I can take one in and they’ll batter it free of charge.

I purchased a pack of Mars bars from the neighbouring Sainsbury’s store.

I purchased a £1.75 pack of four Mars bars at the retail park’s Sainsbury’s shop and stopped by. In minutes, it was ready.

The golden-brown batter was great and this was arguably the best-looking one I’d ordered. I mean, if a deep-fried Mars bar can be considered a looker, that is?

Now for the evening visits, which included Newmachar Fish Bar and The Ashvale

I couldn’t find any other local chippers/chippies that were open at this point, so I waited until 4pm.

Joined by RGU journalism student Abby Ross, the pair of us made way for Balmedie Fish & Chip Shop. It sells deep-fried Mars bars for £1.60.

Unlike me, Abby hadn’t tried one. She was more than up for it.

Balmedie Fish & Chip Shop.
Abby was excited to give the north-east delicacy a go.

This one was up there with with my bar from Herdy’s Dolphin Fish and Chips.

However, I couldn’t help but notice that our bag contained salt – and lots of it.

I totally appreciate that it’s a fish and chip shop and there’s likely to be salt flung onto filler paper on the counter, but it didn’t taste great. We attempted to get as much as we could off of our treat.

Salt out of the way, Abby was surprised at how much she enjoyed it.

The battered treat was great when we got rid of the salt.

Newmachar Fish Bar was next on the cards, followed by The Ashvale on Jesmond Drive in Aberdeen. Their deep-fried Mars bars are priced at £1.80 and £1.50 respectively.

The first was nice, although we thought it was a tad flimsy and could have been left in the fryer a tad longer.

As for the second, it was very oily.

I can now say I’ve done a photoshoot holding a deep-fried Mars bar from The Ashvale…

Nevertheless, both provided that sweet kick that we were after.

At this point, I distinctly remember Abby saying “maybe we’ve saved the best for last.”

Well, we headed to The Donian Fish & Chips on Gallowgate to find out.

We paid the server £2.50 for our deep-fried Mars bar and left. To our surprise, we found two miniature ones in our box.

The Donian Fish & Chips also sells Asian cuisine.
Our two uniform bars from The Donian.

The smell of oil (a scent that I really don’t know how to describe) filled the car instantly.

Abby looked at them with a frightened expression. As soon as she took a bite, her upper lip raised and her nose wrinkled.

She repeated the word “no” for a few seconds before covering her mouth.

I quickly realised why.

Taking a bite of one was like coating your lips in olive oil. They weren’t for us, unfortunately.

Day 3: Banffshire’s time to shine

I took a few days off from my deep-fried Mars bar quest. And as much as I’d love to say that personal life and other work commitments got in the way, in reality, my body was suffering big time. I won’t go into detail.

Huntly Chip Shop was originally on my must-visit list as they’re among the line-up of businesses selling battered Mars bars in the shire. I planned to stop by last Sunday, however, I had to let things settle longer.

When Monday arrived, it was time to get back in action.

Several locations offer deep-fried Mars bars in Banffshire, too. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

My boyfriend Josh agreed to visit two chippers/chippies with me in Banffshire – Banff’s The Lighthouse Fish Bar and Dolphin Fish & Chips in Macduff.

I called beforehand to make sure the treat was on their menus, and it was. The same goes for Crown Chippy (who batter them if you take one in), located on Lusylaw Road in Banff.

However, I made the executive decision that visiting all three in one go would be pushing it.

Outside The Lighthouse Fish Bar.
The first proved more on the oily side.

There were a few customers in The Lighthouse as we stopped by at roughly 6pm. Nevertheless, our visit was swift and cost me £2.50 – steeper than the £1 deep-fried Mars bar from the Dolphin, which was £1.

I let Josh do the honours. Like Abby, this was his first time trying one, and he loved it (despite burning the roof of his mouth).

My thoughts? It was too oily which, essentially, resulted in it falling apart. Nevertheless, Josh demolished it.

Our battered treat from Dolphin Fish & Chips.

The Dolphin’s bar was great. Again, it was piping hot, so we gave it a few minutes to cool down. It was crispy on the outside yet gooey on the inside.

It was a great way to round things off.

How different can everyone’s deep-fried Mars bar really be? ‘Very’

After trying a variety of deep-fried Mars bars on offer across the north-east, one thing was clear – they were all very different, which I didn’t expect.

Some were incredibly greasy and lacked sweetness, while other were quite the opposite.

Are any fish and chip shops missing in this list? Let us know in the comments section…

Surprisingly, I haven’t been put off them for life. I’d highly recommend trying one out for yourself if you haven’t already.

Who takes the crown for the best one out of the places I visited?

In terms of the north-east fish and chip shop you should be running to for one, I’d say (without a doubt) Herdy’s Dolphin Fish and Chips on Aberdeen’s Chapel Street.

In joint second, it would be Lows Traditional Fish & Chips and Dolphin Fish & Chips in Macduff.

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