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Food Bites

By Lavender June 16, 2011

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The Anchor FIsh & Chips

Never mind the leprechauns and shamrocks. What I miss most about Ireland is the fish and chips. Well, after the free-flowing Guinness, and the friendly, civil manners. At cafés in Ireland, I’m called “Madam” or “Lassie.” Here, it’s “Party of four.” I miss the waitstaff who greet you with, “You’re very welcome here.”

“You’re very welcome here,” Jenny said, as she seated us at the counter of The Anchor, the Gaelic anchor of Northeast Minneapolis. It was drizzling outside. Perfect.

The tables were loud and crowded. New arrivals thronged the door, waiting with adopted-Irish patience for their chance at a seat (no reservations taken). The patterned tin ceiling and burgundy walls shook with cries of “Slainte!” All we lacked was a Squeezebox and a fiddle. Well, they couldn’t have squeezed in, anyway.

The fryer was making all the sweet music we needed. From it emerged the fish and chips of my dreams. Although we also tried a couple of other dishes just to say we did, the fish and chips is The One to Order—the ultimate experience, served scorching hot, as God intended, and not a bit greasy.

Perfection like this involves some tricks: the clean taste of light, fresh cooking oil; and high heat, so it doesn’t soak into the batter. Check.

The batter itself must be filmy as a negligee in order to turn crispy in mere seconds, levitating into alluring little bobbles over the fish it caresses. Check again.

As for the fillet itself, you’ve gotta have cod: thick-cut, pearly-white, moist, and tender as you please, bearing a flavor so subtle, you hardly know it’s there. The Anchor, specifying fish wild-caught in Alaska, rules again.

Same story for the fries—er, chips. The kitchen’s hand-cut spuds form a burly thicket on your plate. Add catsup if you must, but a spritz of white vinegar is the standard Irish condiment.

Grab a beer, and you’re good to go. Sure, Bell’s, Harp, and Summit are on tap, and very fine beers they are, but Guinness is the mother’s milk of Dublin.

Those same substantial chips come with a most excellent burger, too, which started life eating grass at 1000 Hills Farm. “Ridiculously good,” the menu claims, and the Irish wouldn’t lie to ye, would they? Add a slice of Irish Cheddar if you’re so inclined, and can spare another dollar. (Most entreés are a mere $8.50.) Add mushy peas, too, if you really must, but that’s getting too authentic for our picky palates.

The shepherd’s pie was as ordinary (read: boring) as it always is—simply beef-carrot-gravy hot dish smothered in lackluster mashed potatoes.

To combat the high-octane ingredients, stick around for a full Irish breakfast on weekends.

The Anchor Fish & Chips
302 13th Ave. NE, Mpls.
(612) 676-1300
www.theanchorfishandchips.com

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