When I was growing up, I would love it when my parents would leave us with a babysitter because that meant later bed times, uninterrupted game playing and… fish sticks.
Remember the song? Trust the Gorton’s fisherman.
My mom must have really taken that to heart because that yellow and blue box was always in the freezer for last minute meal fixings. And no wonder– these crunchy batons delivered a powerhouse crunch and were usually served in tandem with tater tots.
Better yet, on babysitter nights, no one monitored ketchup usage and we’d think nothing of polishing off a half bottle as tater after tater made cannonballs in the sweet, gloppy sauce.
To this day, I’m still a sucker for a great piece of fried fish, and I always keep an eye out for an offering.
A couple years ago I snagged a couple cooled-off bites of fish and chips from a friend who had just been to The Frying Scotsman‘s food cart. Even cooled off and no longer sporting the fresh-from-the fryer crispness, I loved it.
I drove by the cart last week and made a mental note to revisit. Yesterday was my first opportunity to sample the magic for myself, so we headed downtown to the 9th and Alder food carts with a picnic blanket and cash.
The menu is simple, divided by types of fish and size of order.
They offer five kinds of fish: cod, haddock, halibut, mahi-mahi and red snapper as well as battered bangers and chips. Gluten-free fish and chips? Also there.
Being an East Coast girl, I went for the cod. We waited about five minutes, watching the lucky patrons before us as they collected their packages before us, and then it was our turn.
We walked over to the shady, tree-lined park a block away, and got to business.
First thing you should know is that the large size was generous enough to satisfy the three of us: two huge pieces of fish and perhaps twenty of the English-style chips.
I don’t care for tartar sauce or mayo-laced cole slaw, so I can’t report back on that, but I did have the foresight to grab a ramekin of malt vinegar to go on the side (I remember loving that in London) and that was a very good thing.
It’s clear why this cart is busy every time I walk by and it has garnered an average of almost five stars from the hundreds of Yelp reviews.
Clearly this Scotsman has the frying thing down.
The enormous and super fresh pieces of cod were lightly battered and fried to order. The end result is an outside crazy crunch (with a minimum of grease) and piping-hot, perfectly cooked cod inside.
Clearly the potatoes haven’t seen the inside of a freezer and were also devilishly crispy and addictive.
Was it as good as the fried fish I had at Nosh in Seattle? (You can read about it here).
No, but there can only be one place at the top of my list (and Nosh still holds steady there).
The Frying Scotsman, however, is just a couple miles from my house (instead of a couple hours) and they are cranking out some very respectable pub grub.
(Portlanders, if there is a local place that is as good or even better for fried fish, I’d love to hear it).
Just don’t forget the malt vinegar and a bit of the offered salt; the fish needs both to really come alive.
And as much as I loved the cod, I think next time I will spring for the fried halibut — the guy standing next to me was waiting for his and he looked like his pupils were going to roll up in his head when I asked him about it.
Eye-rolling ecstasy from a stranger? That’s always a good sign.