Here is Cod's Plenty

Photo by Jack GouldThe first thing I noticed about my take-out box o' fish and chips from Silky Sullivan's was that instead of a lemon wedge, they had given me a big ol' honkin' piece of orange. The last time I ate there I got a lemon wedge. . . . Maybe they ran out of lemons and figured any old citrus fruit would do. Well, it doesn't. Fish and chips were meant to be doused with fresh lemon juice, malt vinegar, and sprinkled generously with salt. Aside from that, the three smallish, triangular-shaped pieces of fish were fried to a dark brown, as were the steak fries. The fries got cold almost before I could eat them (what is it with steak fries that they can't retain heat?), but the fish remained warm. Despite being overcooked, it did have a nice flavor and texture. And the salad was great.

The Olde Ship serves up the most authentic English fish and chips in OC. And by "authentic," I don't necessarily mean "good"—we're talking about English cuisine here. The fish and chips platter—available with one or two pieces of fish—comes with gigantic pieces of fish served on a bed of steak fries with a side of tartar sauce. The batter is smooth and thin, and the fish inside is flaky, pearly white and pleasing to the eye and tongue. The chips are thick, but barely lukewarm and tasted fleshy and processed. The tartar sauce was also nothing to write home about, unless you wanted to write that you were just served Miracle Whip with relish in it. All in all, it wasn't terrible, merely English: bland and comfortable. But do try the Sticky Toffee Pudding—it's fantastic!

Our blonde, curly-haired waitress at Gallagher's (just one short block from surf 'n' sand in Huntington Beach), was friendly, speedy, humorous and made us feel very welcome. And with its cozy interior, excellent staff and amazing food, it's not hard to feel at home there. But about fish: although I was feeling a little fish-n-chipped-out from a week of taste-testing, Gallagher's' fantastic take on it still managed to blow my mind. The medium-sized piece of Icelandic cod, served amid skin-on steak fries made from real potatoes, awaited me under beer batter that really was beer batter! The cod had a beautiful buttery flavor. And the tartar sauce! The waiter we asked seemed a little flummoxed over our joy at the tasty tartar sauce, but this stuff is incredible—smooth, garlicky—a perfect complement to their fish and chips. This is it—make Gallagher's your fish-and-chip home away from home.

Ahhh, Muldoon's. . . . After being seated in the snazzy outdoor courtyard (kept toasty warm by overhead heat lamps), a wooden paddle bearing small loaves of Irish soda bread and brown bread was placed promptly on my table. I could go on about the Irish soda bread 'til the end of my days, but I'm here to speak about fish. The fish and chips at Muldoon's are the best. They're also rather expensive. For $11.99, I got a fish-shaped platter with five pieces of fresh red snapper piled on top of skin-on shoestring fries made from real potatoes. The batter on the fish was golden and puffy, like fried cumulus clouds, and had a yummy yeasty taste, which means they actually use beer in their beer batter (go figure). Everything tasted heavenly: the fish, the fries, the tartar sauce, the starters (the bread that is). If you want to have a nice night out and want a good, reliable, fish dish, you now know where to go.

Silky Sullivan's, 10201 Slater Ave., Fountain Valley (714) 963-2718. Fish and chips: $6.95.

The Olde Ship, 1120 W. 17th St., Santa Ana, (714) 550-6700. Also in Fullerton. One-piece fish and chips platter: $7.95; two-piece platter: $10.95.

Gallagher's, 300 Pacific Coast Hwy., No. 113, Huntington Beach, (714) 536-2422. Fish and chips: $6.95 for one piece, $10.95 for two pieces.

Muldoon's, 202 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 640-4110. Fish and chips: $11.99.


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