I was at the Edinburgh Castle for one of my sporadic entries into their Tuesday night pub quiz. I decided that it was probably time that I ticked the Old Chelsea Fish and Chips off my list, because you never know, maybe I’d never be back to the Castle. There was a time that I sort of liked this food, I thought it was neat you could order it in the bar and they’d bring it from around the corner all wrapped up in newspaper and I could eat it while I drank my pint of whatever was my current favorite beer on tap. The novelty wore off after a period, but every once in a while fish and chips would sound good to me again, after I’d had time to forget why I stopped eating it once a week. I guess it was one of those days when I couldn’t remember.
I used to like to get the scallops and the shrimp, but this time I decided to keep it simple and just get the 2 pieces of fish. I also got half onion rings and half fries because I just couldn’t choose between them.
After you order, the waitress at the bar brings over your condiments.
A bottle of something red that’s either a mild cocktail sauce or ketchup that’s started to turn, a bottle of malt vinegar, salt and little plastic packets of tartar sauce. Shot of Jamesons not included.
Ten or fifteen minutes later someone from Old Chelsea brings your food. Like I said, it’s wrapped in old newspaper.
Don’t worry, when you open it up there’s a protective sheet of waxy paper between your food and the newsprint. All the paper creates a sort of plate for you to eat off of.
As soon as I opened the package up, I was hit with a little tinge of regret. Everything is balled up tight and shining with grease, and the soggy breading is separating from the oily moist fish. It’s not an appetizing presentation. With a little (well, a lot really) vinegar, salt and ketchup this stuff’s actually not that bad. The fish is fresh and the onions still have a little bite to them, but the fries are terribly limp, and the oil tastes a bit old. It’s enjoyable for at least the first half of the meal, then the grease starts to build up in your stomach and coat the inside of your mouth and Budweiser is not enough to cut through it and you have to stop. Probably it’s better to order after you’ve already had a couple beers. I’ll remember that next time, if there is a next time.
The Old Chelsea Fish and Chips
932 Larkin (also available at the Edinburgh Castle)