GO.SEE.DO | SUMMER 2019
s p i h C D N A Fish n w o d k c Sma
BY ZACH CAVANAGH
Fish and chips is a dish with a long tradition and interesting history. A staple meal of British culture, fish and chips as we know it today was established in the 1860s, with the first shops opening in several spots in England. These shops were essentially the start of the fast food industry.
ish and chips was one of the few foods not rationed by the British government during either World War, as it had become a staple of the working and middle class. Today, fish and chips is served all over the world, with some of the freshest options in our tri-city area in South Orange County. Where should you get yours? We tried some of the best to figure that out.
1. Jon’s Fish Market
3. Cedar Creek Inn
DANA POINT ($15.40)
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO ($17)
It’s impossible to deny the freshness of fish and chips when you’re buying it straight from a market in the local harbor. Jon’s Fish Market received the highest score of the bunch, because it was the best prepared and constructed fish of the four stops. The battered outside is incredibly crispy and tasty but not overbearing. The fish itself is light and has just enough of that ocean taste pushing through. The construction of it might also be the most important part, as the fish does not crumble apart upon eating. The fish could be eaten completely in hand, like you would a chicken tender, and the batter isn’t overwhelming. The taste of the batter can only be described as golden. The fries are good. Above baseline in their preparation, but also still a typical American fry. Jon’s fish and chips is the perfect summer lunch. They also offered a halibut fish and chips—in addition to the standard cod—advertised on their chalkboard for $19.95.
Another unique location and an especially good spot for lunch on the patio, underneath the trees with the Mission San Juan Capistrano in view across the street. On the menu, Cedar Creek Inn describes its fish and chips as “our friend Ann Dreyer’s light and crispy fish.” Indeed, the batter is the calling card of this fish and quite crispy, but I didn’t find it as light as described. The batter is definitely crunchy, but on my three-piece serving at least, I found there to simply be too much of it. Quality fish, to be sure, but the batter overwhelmed the fish. The fries were in line with what I expect to be presented with fish and chips. Not so much in the thicker British way, but they are your typical American fries. I’d call these the baseline for a serving of fries. Another unique feature for Cedar Creek Inn’s presentation is the side of jalapeno tartar sauce.
4. The Fisherman’s Restaurant
DANA POINT (FULL $13.75, HALF $9.25)
SAN CLEMENTE ($20)
Who else would you trust with your fish but the stop at the end of the fishing docks of Dana Point Harbor? Turk’s fish has that perfect fried batter. The bites have the crunch, but it’s not an empty crunch. There is taste throughout. The fish is well-prepared, with just enough of the fish taste pushing though to keep it interesting. The one small demerit on the fish is, while nice and flaky, that it doesn’t hold together as well as the others. Once the crispy outside is broken through, the fork will make it a little tough to gather. Turk’s is also the winner on the “chips” part of fish and chips. Thicker fries that are just as well-fried as the fish, and they are a seasoned fry. Some may prefer without seasoning, but it hit the spot for me. Turk’s could also be called the value spot on this list, with the lowest price on a full four-piece order; a half-order also is available.
In the venues we sampled fish and chips, San Clemente pier mainstay Fisherman’s had the best views and some of the freshest ingredients. The freshness of the four pieces of fish comes through. The fish is expertly fried and well-prepared. The first bite has the exact crunch you’re looking for in the batter, but after that initial breakthrough, it left me a little wanting. Unlike our other entries, the fried outside doesn’t have that fried taste. The fish itself doesn’t have overly fishy taste, but it doesn’t have much taste at all. Now, of course, this is easily remedied with salt, a squirt of lemon and malt vinegar, ketchup or tartar sauces. For these reviews, we went as plain as possible to grade it without our own additions. Finally, the chips are much more potato wedge than French fry. When it comes to fish and chips, I’m looking for more traditional fries on the side.
San Clemente Times