Luck of the Irish

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November 23, 2009 // UPDATED 8:43 am - November 23, 2009
By: Carla Waldemar
Carla Waldemar
Never mind the leprechauns and shamrocks: What I miss most about Ireland is the fish and chips. (Well, after the free-flowing Guinness.) And the friendly, civil manners. At cafes in Ireland I’m called “Madam” or “Lassie.” Here, it’s “Party of four.” I miss the wait staff who greet you with, “You’re very welcome here.”

“You’re very welcome here,” said Jenny as she seated us at the counter of The Anchor, the new anchor of Northeast Minneapolis. The lads cooking were Irish, too. It was drizzling outside. Perfect.

The tables were loud and crowded. New arrivals thronged the door, waiting with adopted-Irish patience for their chance at a seat (no reservations taken). The patterned tin ceiling and burgundy walls shook with cries of “Slainte!” All we lacked was a squeeze box and a fiddle. (Well, they couldn’t have squeezed in, anyway.)

The fryer was making all the sweet music we needed. And from it emerged the fish and chips of my dreams. Although we also tried a couple of other dishes just to say we did, this is The One to Order: the ultimate experience, served scorching hot, as God intended, and not a bit greasy.

Perfection like this involves some tricks: the clean taste of light, fresh cooking oil and high heat so it doesn’t soak into the batter. Check. The batter itself must be filmy as a negligee and slim enough to turn crispy in mere seconds, levitating into alluring little bobbles over the fish it caresses. Check again. As for the fillet itself, you’ve gotta have cod: thick-cut, pearly-white, moist and tender as you please, bearing a flavor so subtle you hardly know it’s there. The Anchor, specifying fish wild-caught in Alaska, rules again.

Same story for the fries — er, chips. The kitchen’s hand-cut spuds form a burly, mealy thicket on your plate. OK, add catsup if you must, but a spritz of malt vinegar is the standard Irish condiment. Grab a beer and you’re good to go. Sure, there are Bell’s, Harp and Summit on tap, and very fine beers they are, but Guinness is the mother’s milk of Dublin.

Those same substantial chips come with a most excellent burger, too, which started life eating grass at 1000 Hills Farm. “Ridiculously good,” claims the menu, and the Irish wouldn’t lie to ye, would they?

If you clean your plate, you can have dessert. Not listed on the menu, it’s as illicit as a swig of potsheen from a rogue distiller: a chocolate cupcake triple-flavored with Guinness, Jameson and Bailey’s. To combat the fumes, stick around for a full Irish breakfast.

Anchor Fish & Chips
302 13th Ave. NE