Posts Tagged ‘fish and chips’

The Pleasant House pub at 2119 South Halsted Street in Pilsen was on my must visit list on my latest trip back to Chicago. I was a great fan of the Pleasant House bakery in Bridgeport and when I read last year in the Chicago Tribune that the husband and wife team behind that place Art and Chelsea Jackson were relocating to Pilsen and opening a pub, well I just had to visit to find out more.

To get to the pub it is almost the same trip, I rode the Orange line from the Loop to Halsted, I just jumped on the train that says Midway. Once at the station walk out back towards the city to Halstead Street, turn left and walk over the river past the Helicopter ride place, and about 5-10 mins later you will see the pub. It was pretty easy to find!

Royal Pie Menu

I have been a great proponent of the Royal Pies baked by the Pleasant House bakery, I used to buy them all the time when I was resident in this great City of Chicago. The last time I had the chance to write about them was back in 2012 when I declared on this blog that it was the “Best Food Hunt trip so far and the Best English Pie I have eaten in Chicago at Pleasant House Bakery – Very Pleasant Indeed!”

I think that I have pretty much tried all of their offerings over the intervening years, my favourite was, and still is, their Steak and Ale pie which is as they say a ‘Royally Rich’ pie. If I was forced to choose a second fave then it would be the Chicken Balti just because the Curry filled pie is fast becoming a classic back in England and the Pleasant House people have made a particularly tasty version.

I once traded in a handful of bottles of Henderson’s Relish, a classic British condiment from Sheffield, for a couple of platefuls of pies for myself and my mother on one trip. I am not sure who got the best deal? I like to think that it was us.

I was pretty tempted to have another one on this visit, just for old times sake, but I had other ideas to fill up my belly!

After all it was a Friday and that can mean just one thing – “Fish and Chip Friday!”

Fish and Chips

Once I knew that I was going to be in Chicago on a Friday, I had it in my mind to seek out the Pub for Fish and Chips, a dish that they only serve on Friday.

Fortuitous? or perfect timing? either way it was a stoke of luck and of genius on this MyFoodHunt’s behalf.

They serve a really excellent plate of Fish and Chips here at the Pleasant House pub, it did remind me of home, and it was an equal of many of my favorite places to eat this meal back in Blighty.

The chips are good and much better than the sort of ‘fries’ you get in the states, I really liked them and they are probably some of the best ‘chips’ I have had, however they are just not quite ‘chip shop chips’ but a really jolly good effort.

The Star, just as it should be, is the battered fish, I loved the crispy and crunchy batter, at first it looks a bit more brown than perfectly golden, but that is probably due to the beer that they add to the mix.

Once you cut inside you are treated to some lovely juicy white fish, sweet and meaty are my overriding memories. It was actually almost spot on and they should be jolly proud of how good it is.

So how good are the Fish and Chips at the Pleasant House pub? well, they are only one of two, that I have found, that I would tell you to seek out in the states to get a true taste of British Fish and chips. That might tell you something, so please make the effort to try them out!

Draft Beers on Tap

They certainly were keeping up the tradition of a true British pub with a pretty eclectic beer list up on the chalkboard and on the pumps on the bar. I found contenders from Scotland, Wales and from Manchester amongst the beers vying for my attention, all worthy companions for my meal.

As I read through the list I just had to message my cousin Caroline when I saw a beer from Robinson’s brewery in Stockport Manchester (her home town), she messaged back to remind me that they still deliver the beer around the town on horse drawn dray’s. Wow! that is quite something in this day and age and a great tradition. It is just like the sort of traditional values that the people at Pleasant House are trying to keep alive and celebrate with their work here in Chicago. I love this kind of stuff!

I also saw two beers from Brains Brewery in Wales which brought back happy memories of trips to Cardiff and Swansea back in my college days when I shared a house with three rugby and beer loving Welsh students.

If I still lived in Chicago I would be over at the Pleasant House Pub at least once a week I reckon, just for the beer alone!

My Beer and some Pumps

I ended up drinking one of the beers from the Pleasant peoples own brewery Whiner. It was the “Et La Tete” which I chose because firstly it was a local beer and secondly because it was a Kolsch which is one of my favoured easy drinking styles.

I didn’t realise that this particular version is an ‘apple kolsch’ but that was something I learned through my friend ‘Mr Google’ after the event. It made a lot of sense though as I found it to be a crisp and refreshing drink, I didn’t really notice the apples, but then again my brain and taste buds were focussed on those excellent Fish and Chips 😉

They have some really great food on offer at the Pleasant House pub, on Friday as I have shown you can treat yourself with some amazing Fish and Chip. If you fancy a proper pie then they have all of their Royal Pies on offer, and you really cannot go wrong which ever one you choose.

If you just fancy a snack then I would suggest that you try one of their ‘Scotch Eggs’ which is a true British snack classic, often misunderstood and maligned, yet such a perfect handheld treat. If you have never had one, then you really must and if you have one here you will be in safe hands for your first try. Trust me, I have eaten a lot in my lifetime and the lovely people in the Pleasant House world know what they are doing 🙂

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The Pleasant House Pub say on the website that

“Pleasant House Pub welcomes you to join us at our new public house. Our menu features specialty beer and cocktails, savory meat and veg Royal Pies, delicious British-inspired food, locally roasted coffee, and homemade pastries. We’re also known for dabbling in fun, so you’ll find plenty of that, too. Whether it’s 10 a.m. or midnight, we hope you make yourself at home. Drink, eat, work, hang out.

Whatever you do, always do it f’ the sen.”

Sounds good to me!

Check them out also on Facebook and on Twitter

More Food Menu Pics

 

The Draft Beer List (on that day) 

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Duke of Perth

There are so many Irish bars in Chicago that sometimes it gets a bit boring, so was nice to find The Duke of Perth which is a Decent Scottish pub over in Lakeview on Clark Street. I am sure that for its regular punters it is a great neighbourhood bar, but for many of us I think it is the pub we go too when we fancy stuffing our faces with ‘All you can eat Fish and Chips’ for $10.25

They are not messing around when they made that offer, the last time I took advantage I started with a big plate with two large bits of battered fish, and I was only half way through when the chef came out of the kitchen with a pan of more fish walking around the Fish and Chip eating tables offering more and more. I have to be honest the plate that you start with it pretty much enough for me it is a quite generous offering.

Duke of Perth Specials Board

They just have that offer on Wednesdays and Fridays, but there are plenty of other things on the menu that can tempt your fancy. I believe that they probably boast the side with the longest name in the city The “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Leek Sticks” That is fresh leeks, lightly battered and flash fried with a dip. I am not sure how the name fits into the Scottish theme as it is named after a Welsh village but there are gaelic ties I suppose. Other menu items I have my eye on are the Scotch Egg burger, essentially a burger and fried egg combo, and the Lochinver Fish Po-Boy, just because I like poboys.

As you would expect they have a really good selection of whiskies and malts here, but I am always drawn to drinking the beers which are really good especially the Belhaven Scottish Lager, and the Belhaven Scottish Ale. In fact I haven’t seen the Lager anywhere else in the city, but I am sure its out there somewhere.

The closest el stops are probably on the Brown Line at Wellington, but you could walk down here from the Red and Brown Belmont stop. The easiest way here is to ride the Clark Street bus, which stops more or less outside.

Duke of Perth on Urbanspoon

On the face of it this place should have been right up my street. An uplit bar glowing blue neon, glass everywhere, a cold glass of Pinot Grigio and a mild hint that maybe the beautiful people would be arriving at any moment to sip on a few cosmopolitans. The menu had some decent fish options on it, but like a true Brit I went for the Fish and Chips. In the back of my mind I could tell that this was a mistake, but I pushed ahead anyway, after all there was not a scallop to be seen anywhere.

It was a mistake, it did not even look like the sort of Fish and Chips I was hoping for when it arrived, in fact my heart sank as I saw the sad battered fish lying on the plate before me. Now I am not going to cast any aspersion on how this was cooked or any other comment. I am just going to make the comparison that I have had better battered fish out of the frozen aisle at any average supermarket, and I would barely even contemplate eating one of those. The batter was soggy and the fish was wet not even moist, something was not right here. Was it tasty? No not really, the tartar sauce was needed to impart any kind of flavour. The fries were OK and the one redeeming moment was when the barman brought me some malt vinegar without any kind of prompting. Maybe this is how they make Fish and Chips in America, and maybe my hunt was fruitless, who knows. I mean lets be honest here the nearest coast is a long way away and I never really think you get good fish and chips anywhere that you cannot hear the seagulls and the waves crashing or smell the ocean spray.   

I enjoyed my wine, but I made the wrong choice on the food, I should have known that it was not going to be great, after all it was $16 compared to the Fish specials which were closer to $25-30.

I wonder if I can get a Filet o Fish from the McDonalds next door?

Nicks Fishmarket Bar and Grilll is at 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 135 , the McDonalds is in the Food Court

Take the Brown Line to the Merchandise Mart CTA stop

Website: http://nicksfishmarketchicago.com/

Nick's Fishmarket Grill and Bar on Urbanspoon

If you are drinking beer at the “Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem”, the oldest pub in England, then why not consume a plate of Fish and Chips to go with it?

There is no good answer as to why not, so I took the safe option and did just that.

Although it was quite tasty it was a pretty much tourist version of this dish, judging by the accents around the top room in the pub, I would guess that this place attracts many overseas visitors and I would lay a reasonable bet that they consume a fair amount of fish and chips on their trip to the Trip. It was good piece of battered haddock, the fish moist and juicy, the batter crispy. A small pot of mushy peas and tartare sauce were good, the chips a bit standard and not too exciting. The good thing was that it was not too large and so I was still able to drink a couple of decent beers to wash it down with.

website: http://www.triptojerusalem.com

Some days I really crave some good old fish and chips, but sadly it is hard to track down, so I was delighted to find this decent offering near to the Paulina Brown Line stop.

The New England Seafood Company sells East Coast Boston type fare, well at least I assume it does as I have never yet been over to Boston or that part of the coast to sample it myself. I just know that it was not English Fish and Chips, but it was a pretty good substitute all the same.

Although the batter on the haddock looked burnt at first, it wasn’t, it was crispy and very tasty, inside the haddock was juicy and fell apart in perfect flakes just like a good piece of freshly fried fresh haddock should. To be fair I think that this was the best piece of haddock I have had in Chicago. The portion was too large, but not too big to stop me greedily eating it all. The fries were strange, not chips in the english sense, but crispy and crunchy with a good flavour. You did not need to add any sauce to make them palatable which makes them a glorious alternative to most of the fries offered in America. I still doused them in a fair amount of malt vinegar, enough to make one imagine that a wandering unwashed hobo had wandered into the joint with his unwashed jeans such was the smell lingering in the air.

The price was good value at $13.95, one of the cheaper options on the menu, still it was the one that caught my eye and the one that I will return for.

Located at 3341 N. Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL 60657 about 5 mins walk from the Paulina Brown Line CTA station

Website: http://neseafoodcompany.com/

New England Seafood Company Fish Market on Urbanspoon

For an expat Englishman there is a constant search for good fish and chips, not just abroad but in the UK also.  Some surveys will claim that Curry is the number one takeaway in the UK these days, but ignore that it is Fish and Chips, and that is what we seek and crave when overseas. But beyond that it is the traditional fish and chip shop that is also a dream that is usually unfulfilled, BUT on Greenwich Avenue in the West Village New York there really is a  genuine real fish and chip shop, it is not just a themed effort it actually is better than many in England.

I had haddock and chips, mushy peas and a bottle of irn bru ( ‘Made in Scotland from girders’). The fish was great flaky and moist, the batter crisp,  the chips were solid, pretty tasty and mixed with the mushy peas were a tasty delight. They were offering deep fried brussel sprouts when I went in, but I declined, that was a step too far

A Salt and Battery has featured on the Food Network most notably in Bobby Flays Throwdown, there was no way that he would win this one and I thoroughly enjoyed watching his defeat as I knew that he could not beat these fish and chips. http://www.foodnetwork.com/throwdown-with-bobby-flay/fish-and-chips/index.html

I love that they play UK Radio as well in this place and that it just has the feel of being back home in England. There is not much room to sit inside just about 6-7 seats, but on a nice day you can eat your takeaway on the bench outside or in the park across the road (if the hobos and the pigeons will give you a bench to sit on)

A Salt and Battery is located at 112 Greenwich Avenue (bewteen 12th and 13th Streets). You can get here by subway taking the A or C to 14th Street and walk  5 mins

website: http://www.asaltandbattery.com/

A Salt & Battery on Urbanspoon

On the search up the Brown line for places to eat, one of the stops I had not yet visited was Rockwell. The El Stop is on N. Rockwell St and they are a couple of obvious options near to it; Rockwells Neighborhood Grill, and the Pizza Art Cafe, but as an Englishman I was in the mood for something a little more homely and the sight of an English Pub the Red Lion was just too much to resist.

Inside it is the closest to a traditional English Pub that I have seen in the states, most fall into the trap of duplicating one of the many themed London pubs which don’t really represent the English Pub at all. What you really need is a surly barman, a miserable owner, and some really bad food. Sadly this was the thing lacking at the Red Lion, the owner was very friendly and the young lad at the bar also seemed cheerful. There was a selection of hand pulled beers, a rarity I have found in the city, and they were not half bad, some real ales don’t even travel across the UK let alone over the states so this guy knew how to keep his beer.

The menu had a number of English dishes and I had to try the all you can eat Fish and Chips special just as it is an easy benchmark on which to judge any British pub.

It was pretty good, the fish was moist and flaky and the chips were nice and chunky and it came in a basket which is so retro (although I expect accidently so). I am not sure what they were coated in but it was tasty. The tartar sauce was good to dip in, but the coleslaw was just wasted on me. Why does Fish and Chips need coleslaw anyway?  I have never been given it in any Fish and Chip shop I have ever visited in England.

Best of all I got to share my supper with the Queen, always a total bonus!

The Red Lion was a pretty authentic experience, way better than the loop attempt of the Elephant and Castle which to be fair does succeed in serving good beer with awful food (but I still eat there as it is typical english pub food which generally is not that good).

The Red Lion is situated at  4749 N Rockwell St (between Leland Ave & Lawrence Ave) about 5mins walk left of the Rockwell Brown El station. Website: http://theredlionlincolnsquare.com/

The Red Lion Lincoln Square on Urbanspoon