Whoaaa! Horaaah! Fish and chips! Hooot! In London! Weeeeee! Land of The Fish and Chips! Yaaay!
Ok I'm done with my hallucinations. I'm still right here, sweating it out in Dubai. That street photo up there is just the wallpaper of a restaurant I walked over to the other day. This is what life has come to, living off of wallpapered vacation spots. I had started planning to go on vacation back in June. It's been an evolving process since then...San Fran! Beirut! Paris! Ho Chim Minh! and here I am, I've procrastinated away most of summer, giving the odd recommendation or two to someone planning a trip to Istanbul or watching with green eyes as friends board the plane to Spain or trying to finagle sightseeing detours out of a work/wedding prep trip to Delhi. HOW HARD IS IT TO PLAN A VACATION?! ...hard. help me someone, plan my dream trip for me...sniffle...
On a happier note, one thing I was totally on the ball for was the trek to find this plate of fish and chips at a new joint in Dubai: Salt and Vinegar...
...right across the road. That's probably as far as I'm getting this summer. [self-inflicted crabby frown].
All credit to the parents who spotted the new place crop up as they did their daily neighborhood survey from our balcony. It took a mere two mentions of "you should go try the place and tell us if it's any good" for me to drag my little foodie cousin across and stare up at their fancy LED menu screens. Less than a week after they'd opened.
Now I'm no fish and chips conoisseur. Never been to London, else I'd have done right by the holy Fish and Chips grail. The two benchmarks I can dredge up are (a) a childhood fish and chips place in Jumeirah, which in my pink girly eyes served up the most awesomest crispy fish and chips ever. Sad that I have no real recollection of what it tasted like, but it MUST have been awesome; and (b) more recently, Rivington Grill's fish and chips that I noshed on at Taste of Dubai. Which I also loved. Oh actually there's a vague flashback to (c), a plate of fish and chips at some fair during my time in the US. I can't be sure, but I think I scarfed it down too. So that makes for a dubious 2.5ish out of 3. Either I've got lucky with my less than a handful of fish and chip experiences, or I've got super low standards for soft white flaky stuff covered in deep fried batter.
Salt and Vinegar's cod shoves my score up higher. The battered deep-fried crust on the cod had ballooned up a tad bit away from the flesh, something that only a light, airy and crunchy crust can do. Too greasy, and it'd be glued slimely against the fish. Under-fried, and it'd be anti-climactically chewy and disappointing. But this crust felt pretty on-target to me.
The cod itself was super tender, flaking at the touch. I forked through the flesh exactly how the Sweet Mother of Seafood intended for it to be eaten, under a waterfall of sour tart malt vinegary goodness. If you get tempted to use the restaurant's dainty spray-bottles of "light malt vinegar," skip it. Unless you want to be sitting there all night trying to make every smithereen of your cod sponge up the air-borne liquid molecules emanating from that delicate vinegar spray head.
Oh and kudos to Salt and Vinegar for hitting the spot with their tartar sauce - mayo, bucket loads of vinegar and tons of salt, it really amped up every chunk of cod flesh that it was plopped on.
But stepping back from the cod, it was heart-breaking to see my fish martyred in...styrofoam. Ack. Where's the newspaper guys?? I whined about this to the parents, who sagely told me off with concerns of lead poisoning. True that. BUT. But...styrofoam is so clinical, SO uninspiring! Answer me people, and answer like a true artist, would you rather be uninspired or DIE? [whazzat?...you're not an artist you say?...oh, just here for the cod? right. of course...no. I'm not applying to be your baby sitter anytime soon.]
Of the three sides, the only one that made the cut was the creamy well-seasoned mashed potatoes. The other two are not landing up on my table ever again: disappointingly unremarkable thick fries and gravy; and gritty tasteless mushy peas (can these ever taste good, anywhere, even in London?). I'm so sad that a fish and CHIPS place has not got their chips right, I want to cry. Or take a treacherous bag of Lays in with me next time.
If you haven't had enough deep-fried goodness by this point, and even if you have, you've got to get a bite of this: The Deep-fried Mars Bar. I feel all macho just saying it. See them biceps? see them biceps? see? see? see them...belly folds. Yeah whatever. It's worth it.
hey you with the mocking eyes! yes, YOU. wipe that ewww this is deeesgusting...you need serious detox woman look offa yer face. Trust me, don't hate it 'til you've tried it.
Salt & Vinegar is definitely making my list of take-out places, but only cause it's right across the street [soggy motorbike-travelled fish and chips anyone?], only cause that crunchy jacketed cod has won over my heart, only cause I'd chuck the styrofoam and redress it up in a pile of newspaper, only cause I'd ditch the fries and pop open my store-bought bag of salty crisps. Only cause I need some deep-fried fuel as I start planning out my summer vacation for next year.
Salt & Vinegar
Al Rigga Road, steps from the Al Rigga metro stop, right next to Automatic Restaurant