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Out to lunch: Tasty is the same in any language

PUBLISHED: 14:56 17 March 2006 | UPDATED: 10:25 07 September 2010

Guest: Peter Polycarpou, actor Venue: Toff's, Muswell Hill Broadway, N10 - TELEVISION, film and theatre actor Peter Polycarpou greets the chefs at Toff's in fluent Greek-Cypriot. The star best known for his role as jailbird waster Chris in TV hit Birds of A Feather...

Guest: Peter Polycarpou, actor

Venue: Toff's, Muswell Hill Broadway, N10

TELEVISION, film and theatre actor Peter Polycarpou greets the chefs at Toff's in fluent Greek-Cypriot. The star best known for his role as jailbird waster Chris in TV hit Birds of A Feather explains: "Speaking Greek-Cypriot to someone from Greece is like speaking Geordie to a Londoner. It is slightly different."

Similarly, Toff's of Muswell Hill Broadway is famously a bit of a hybrid. Staffed by Greek-Cypriots it is unlike most high street fish and chip diners.

Constantly packed and full of atmosphere, the restaurant offers everything from cod to king prawns - and although chips are a staple, side orders of Greek salads and feta cheese are also hurried out.

The prices are on the high side - ranging from cod at £9.75 up to £17.75 for the Dover sole.

Mr Polycarpou, who lives in Cranley Gardens, Muswell Hill, says: "The food is excellent. It is really fresh. The salads are fresh and clean. It is considered to be one of the best fish and chips restaurants in London."

Two years ago Mr Polycarpou produced a radio play where he used Toff's for frying sound effects and background noise.

"I did a play which revolved around a family trying to arrange a marriage to their daughter," he says. "They let me use the place for sound effects and I produced it myself. They are a very lively crowd with lots of banter."

His playful and laid-back air - and looks - helped land him a career-making part in Birds of A Feather.

The hit BBC show attracted audiences of up to 20million and ran for nine series. The part of Pauline Quirke's wayward husband Chris Theodopolopoudos was uncomplicatedly stereotypical but attracted a positive response.

"It had an element of truth and Greeks knew that and could laugh at themselves. The real success of the show was the relationship of the three women who are still my close friends.

"Pauline Quirke, Linda Robson and Lesley Joseph carried the show."

The role of a husband sent to prison for a heist gone wrong still defines the actor despite the fact he has also appeared alongside Madonna in Evita and Kevin Kline in De-Lovely and dozens of TV series.

The actor also had a brief storyline in EastEnders last month and recently compered the launch of a Greek-Cypriot version of Who's Who in February. The gala attracted Peter Andre (and wife Jordan in the background) and easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou - all appear in the book.

Future acting roles will see him alongside his friend and fellow Muswell Hill resident Michelle Collins in a new drama called Broken. The film directed by new talent Vicky Psarias is set in England and follows the fortunes of a man who brings his family over from Cyprus.

Mr Polycarpou combines all this with strong green political interests - in the previous council election he stood as the Green Party candidate for Muswell Hill.

He said: "I did not have time this year but I think the older you get them more you are aware of the things around you - the fact that London streets are clogged with traffic.

"We are making rods to beat ourselves with because of the amount of waste we have."

Bucking the Greek stereotype Mr Polycarpou does not eat any meat and is a "pescitarian".

So he says that Toff's - where the only fuel refined apparently is ground nut oil for frying - is a sound green choice.

The range of options, from fish to fried Camembert and non-genetically modified ingredients makes the restaurant top of the list for the Greek-Cypriot green pescitarian in everybody.

o Peter Polycarpou dined with Jonathan Marciano

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o Toff's, 38 Muswell Hill Broadway (020-8883 8656).

o Fish and chips with all the trimmings.

o 11.30am-11pm, Mon-Sat.

o Cod £9.75, Dover sole £17.75.

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