Having been a huge fan of fish & chips my entire life, building my palette early on with the delightful Frozen Fish Sticks of my youth (particularly the frozen tartar sauce garnish) I now have a well-researched secret to knowing if the fish & chips at any new restaurant will measure up.
The secret is in the Coleslaw (or as we originally knew it, colds lore.)
Not too heavy with the mayonnaise (never that German style.) Not too sweet, just a hint. And no fruit!
Whenever I try a new place for fish & chips, there is always the potential to be disappointed. But I have discovered a little-known link between the quality of the fish & chips and the quality of the coleslaw.
If the coleslaw is good, the fish & chips are almost always excellent. There are some exceptions. There is a seafood restaurant in Rhode Island I shall refrain from naming that has exceptional everything, including the fish & chips, but their coleslaw is a disaster.
But as a rule, enjoy the coleslaw, enjoy the fish & chips.
It’s hard for many places to compare with the original and pleasurable experience of the Friday night Frozen Fish Sticks of my youth, but a taste of well-made coleslaw in anticipation of equally well-prepared fish & chips comes very close.
One other thing I would add, and I must credit the Brits for this (although I suspect they stole it from the Irish.) Fish & Chips are most properly enjoyed not with a fork but by taking firm hold of the portion—well smothered in tartar sauce—and eating by hand.
It is the only civilized way. And there’s the bonus of all the disgusted looks from the heathens using forks.
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