Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Beer-battered bliss: Nothing screams comfort like a heaping plate of fried cod.

You don't have to hail from the Emerald Isle to enjoy a heaping plate of fish and chips. But you might have to hail a cab after noshing on the stuff at these beer-crazed pubs.

Duke of Perth
Next to its sweeping list of scotch, the made-from-scratch fish and chips is the main draw here. Especially on Wednesdays and Fridays when the pub offers an all-you-can-eat special. And special it is with the Duke's select choice of cod fried in Tennant's Lager beer batter, served alongside peas and chips with malt vinegar. Not only is it one of the tastiest fish 'n' chip choices Chicago has to offer, but at $9.50, it's one of the cheapest. Duke of Perth is also one of the few pubs left in the city that has yet to give way to sports-streaming TV's, or any TV's, for that matter. Keeping in line with its lack of cultural distractions, the small space encourages socializing with strangers and making new friends. If all that chatter isn't doing the trick, offer up a strip of your fish; you'll be a guaranteed hit.

Chief O'Neill's
This classy little North Side joint boasts an entire menu of traditional Emerald Isle dishes, but it's the restaurant's signature fish and chips that puts the rest of its regional fare to shame. While it's not quite as cheap as Duke of Perth's ($11.95 vs. $9.95), it's certainly on par with its preparation. Chief O'Neill's choice of Atlantic cod gets dipped in the restaurant's homemade beer batter, fried until golden brown and served up with coleslaw and steak-cut fries. And as if there weren't already enough cod competition with the Duke, Chief O'Neill's also offers an all-you-can-eat fish 'n' chips deal on Fridays. On top of that, the restaurant features the fried stuff on its Sunday brunch menu, which just might put this one in the lead.

Wilde Bar and Restaurant
Bookish types will fall hard for this culinary tribute to the Irish author, playwright and poet. The restaurant's heaping basket of fish and chips is as much of a nod to Wilde as its full-functioning library and crackling fireplace. Dipped and fried in a Bass Ale batter, the Atlantic cod gets served with chips, slaw and a small tin ramekin of tartar sauce, $14.95. Finicky foodies may find Wilde's coating a bit too thick, but it holds the flaky fish together well and draws on the cod's mild flavors.

Grafton Pub & Grill
You may want to order more than one basket of fish and chips to soak up the many pints of beer you're bound to drink here. With imports from Germany, Quebec and Holland and domestics from local breweries like Two Brothers and Goose Island, it's damned near impossible to settle for just one bottle. And Grafton's fish and chips brings out the best in all of the pub's brews. Perhaps that has a little something to do with its beer-batter coating, though it could also be the homemade tartar sauce-simple and nearly as satisfying as the fish itself. Grafton's fish 'n' chips plate comes with the standard fries and slaw, $11.95.

Celtic Knot Public House
This European-themed pub in Evanston is the ideal spot for those who just want a little bit of fish 'n' chips, along with a little bit of everything else. Celtic Knot's dinner entree, the Celtic Collection, allows its patrons to sample the restaurant's lamb stew, fish 'n' chips and corned beef cabbage, $13.95. If that doesn't strike your fancy, look to the pub menu, where fish and chips can be ordered on its own for $11.99. Even the kids can revel in their own plate of fish fingers and chips for just $5. Unlike the cod used in our other picks, you never know what you'll get at Celtic Knot, as the restaurant changes its variety to reflect the freshest available ingredients.

This article was first published on Centerstage.
Photo: Fish n' chips at Wilde's Bar and Restaurant, Stacy Warden.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Never pictured you as a fried-foods kinda gyrl ... my, my how things change! :P

79 more days! :D