Monday, September 3, 2007

A Salt & Battery

In the realm of top-notch cuisine, the Brits hold very little ground in terms of respect.

From their females to their automobiles, all things British are known to deteriorate, succumb to age and result in much displeasure.

Yet the renowned British dish of Fish & Chips has stood the test of time. In any pub, bar and British-Irish restaurant you'll find the money making meal. 

It's symbolic and nationalistic. It's what hot dogs do for Chicago or what pizza does for New York. And since Mat Arnfield, head chef of AS&F realized capitalizing on Bangers & Mash or Yorkshire Pudding might not be as successful, what better way to incorporate English cuisine into Americans' diets other than Fish & Chips?

His menu highlights everything someone might expect a Brit to have. Heinz Baked beans, a handful of battered white fish & chips along with a few meat-filled pies. Disgusting, yet continuing on with the deep-fry-it-all theorem, he's even got fried Mars bars and chocolate sandwiches. The latter even comes with ice cream.

As expected though, the true frontrunner remains the Fish & Chips. Freshly fried to order, to a golden brown with orange tinge, my cod was impeccable both in taste and texture. A most perplexingly light batter held a crunch so delightful only to be met with a flaky, soft cod filet inside.

One of the few qualms I have though, even if trivial, is the skimpy amount of tartar sauce that comes with the fish. Amazingly creamy with just the right amount of tartness served as an excellent sidekick to both the cod and shrimp, but came up empty halfway through the meal. 

In a way, I suppose it could be a sign that you should become more dependent upon the Brit style of enjoying your Fish & Chips with malt vinegar. And well, that's just what I did.

Their chips, proudly referred to as chips and not fries, are pleasant but not memorable. Crisp and stout, they're easy to pop back unknowingly alongside the fish. Some came out soft and mushy, others burnt and crumbly. Yet when the good ones did become uncovered, their pillowy potato taste came through.

Next time around though, I'll definitely have to look into the battered pork sausage and try a steak & kidney pie. Equally worthy in sampling within the fish department though, are the Haddock, Sole and Whiting, all for reasonable prices.

Overall, the food is excellent. If you can handle the suffocating, oil-permeated air, you're in for the clear. If only most pubs could serve out such satisfying fish & chips, I'm sure I'd be spending a lot more time around Boddington's and Newcastle. And that's where the Brits truly succeed.

A Salt & Battery
112 Greenwich Ave @ W 13th St
Fish Combo (Cod/Shrimp), Sm. Chips

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