Northeast spotlight: Fish and chips the Irish way

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August 3, 2009 // UPDATED 8:52 am - August 3, 2009
By: Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas

The growing cluster of restaurants and galleries around the landmark 331 Club has transformed the intersection of University and 13th avenues into one of the most vibrant street scenes in Minneapolis.

This summer, a trio of Northeast residents was busy converting a former gallery space at 302 13th Ave. S. into The Anchor Fish & Chips, a casual eatery offering Irish fare, beer and wine and take-out service. The Downtown Journal chatted with two of the three owners — Kathryn Hayes and Luke Kyle — as they prepared for a late-August opening.



DTJ: The two of you are originally from Ireland: Hayes from Tipperary and Kyle from Belfast. What brought you to Minneapolis?

Kyle: My family moved here when I was younger, so that’s what brought me here. Been back [to Ireland] quite a few times, but [I’ve] pretty much lived in Minneapolis since 1994.

Hayes: I’ve been here about 10 years, back and forth between Ireland and Minneapolis. And New York; I lived in New York for about four years. But this has been my base because I’m involved with a Minneapolis native. So that’s the reason. [Co-owner] Jenny Crouser, she’s a Minnetonka girl. She’s the American angle.



The co-owners call themselves “governors.” Is that an Irish thing?

Hayes (in a Cockney accent): Guvnah! Guvnah! It’s an English thing, but it was on our legal agreement for us as partners. You know, for the minutes of the meeting it’s “Governor Jenny,” “Governor Luke” and “Governor Kathryn.” We just thought it was hilarious. It’s all very formal.



What’s the secret to well-made fish and chips?


Kyle: Good hand-cut potatoes and good fish. Good batter obviously. After that it’s all a secret.

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Around here, we’re used to getting a bottle of malt vinegar with our fish and chips, but I hear you’ll have white vinegar on the table.

Hayes: It’s very Irish. Malt vinegar is for the softies. The white vinegar is a lot more astringent and it’s got a lot stronger flavor. It really brings out the chips and the fish — if you drown them in that, if you’re a vinegar person.

Kyle: If you’re having vinegar, you’re having white vinegar, because you’re getting a real kick.

Hayes: At home, they have it in plastic containers and they lob on the vinegar and the salt. It’s all very rough-and-ready. Then, throw the fish and chips in some nice paper, wrap it up and off you go. It’s still that way at home.

Kyle: No need for ketchup or tartar sauce. It’s the vinegar and the salt, is the taste you’re going for.



Can you talk about your plans to minimize waste from the restaurant?

Hayes (pointing behind building): There’s this big, huge thing we spent a fortune on back there. It’s a massive 18-foot-by-12-foot enclosure. We’re going to compost everything. [We’ll] recycle everything we possibly can. We’re working with Eureka Recycling. They work with about 14 restaurants in the Twin Cities. They come in and train the staff how to compost properly.



How did you choose Northeast for the location of your restaurant?

Kyle: We’ve both lived here for quite some time. I’ve been here about four years, within this three-block radius, actually, of the shop.
Jenny’s had a house in Northeast for, what, 12 years?

Hayes: We had to do a complete build-out on this [restaurant]. It would have been way easier for us to move into an existing restaurant or bar. Way easier, way cheaper, much less complicated.
We started from absolute scratch because of this location. That’s how important it was to us.