The eel is a interesting creature. It's a sushi staple, isn't it? And we don't give that culinary positioning much thought.
But boy, in anatomical, chop-n-boil format, it's a whooole other animal! (ha HA, a fine joke, seeing as it's literally NOT a whole otRIGHT, moving on).
You put the cross-section in your mouth, feeling the intimidatingly gelatinous-looking skin [thankfully] melt away; you close gently, sucking the tender rich meat off a disc-like central bone. And...that's it, really. Careful with the bone.
A bit after you've finished the meal it hits you: that was DAMN satisfying. In the Western meat-as-clean-muscle conception of carnivoria, it's rare that one gets to indulge in the unique pleasure of whole animal. In the case of the simple East End boiled (or, after cooling, jellied) eel, the fun is in the rich gelatine leeched from the bones and skin - it's a dose of psychological nourishment the likes of which you just can't get from cleanly filleted carcass.
Something tells me you'll have to try 'em before you believe me on this, and - check the segue - S & R Kelly & Sons (who tell me they are the ORIGINAL Bethnal Green Kelly) offer an excellent opportunity to do just that. The p & m is up to snuff - as good and maybe better than G Kelly up the road - and the eels are more affordable than most.
Other than that, S & R Kelly is a pretty quintessential pie & mash shop; I can't think of an especially distinguishing feature to harp on. Pie & mash is, to an extent, pie & mash: fully actualised 5-star thrillingly honest simple food that fills you up the right way.
**Consider the eel a treat and delicacy. They used to be plentiful and cheap. Now they are endangered and (relatively) expensive. London's eel/pie/mash shops tend to use conscientious sourcing methods, but still....eel as staple food is not a thing anymore.
Hungry and hungover, I was on my way to E Pellici when I walked past the window seeing them dish out a plate of pie and mash. Changed my mind on the spot, and went in. Small but proper old school, marble top table and pews setting.
Bad move, the liquor had no flavour and was as clear as water, the mash was the worse I've ever had. It was really dry, like it was made with old potatoes. Smash would have been preferable, even the vinegar was odd. Only the pie was half decent but gutted all the same.
I didn't bother to finish my plate, though I was hungry. Massively disappointing. Next time I'll go up to the one in Broadway Market.
This place is now smaller with about 24 covers but who needs lots of room for good old victorian fast food. For £2.20 you can have a single pie and mash with liqour, enough for anyone light lunch. Good quality meat in a well cooked pie you just need a spoon and fork to to enjoy. Top place.