Fish and Chips at The Dandelion Pub, you’re quite the dish.
Thanks, mate. It’s an honor. I guess I’m not the restaurant’s top seller for nothing.
Lots of places serve fish and chips, of course, but to our palate, you’re heads and fins above them all. How do you manage such perfect flakiness and flavor?
Oh, go on. Well, for starters, the chef at Dandelion, 40-year-old Robert Aikens, is an Englishman who comes from a family of wine merchants and has cooked in a Michelen-starred restaurant for his brother, Tom, in London. And we’re a British pub. It would be bloody absurd not to have me on the menu or, worse, serve a mediocre version of me. Aikens knows this, so he pulls out all the stops.
Tell us about those stops.
Right, the first is a rock-solid foundation: a generously fat, white filet of line-caught Chatham cod (nets bruise their flesh, you see), a fish which has bounced back after going ghost just a few short years ago now that the herring population is back. Cod eat herring. Oh yeah, there was a whole New York Times article about it. Anyway, that’s the base. Then I’m dipped in a perfectly made Yards beer batter.
Yep. Then comes the real deal difference maker. I’m fried in beef fat. Aikens takes nearly 200 pounds of New York strip trimmings, raw fat and renders it into liquid fat, a process that takes as much as six hours. Truly a labor of love, right there.
No doubt. What would you say to those who might quip, at $21, you’re too pricey?
I’d say, “You haven’t tasted me yet.” My chips are plank-thick and triple-cooked, also in beef fat, to golden perfection. You can dip those in a delightfully tangy house-made tartar that makes them sing. Come by, gimme a try.
PW's Taste of Philly 2014