My love for Premiership Soccer has spurred many secondary obsessions in English fare. I drink far more Guinness than I should and have become a sucker for other session beers. Tetley's stands out, but is hard to find. I love a hearty lamb stew. And of course, there's fish and chips.
Properly deep-fried, this bar food classic sports a thick, crispy crust without too much oil and a generous portion of potatoes cooked just right -- tender in the center with a snappy exterior, -- that play more a co-starring than a supporting roll. I like my order served with lemon wedges and malt vinegar I apply with so much abandon it borders on reckless. I also like a well thought out tartar sauce, with capers and fresh herbs.
Two Dallas area restaurants, The Londoner in Uptown on Thomas Avenue, and Neighborhood Services on Lovers Lane, accomplish all the things I desire (though you'll have to ask for the vinegar at Neighborhood Services), yet the end result couldn't be more different. The Londoner uses cod in their dish; Neighborhood Services serves catfish.
Cod is a wonderful fish, though a responsible food writer will point out it's overfished. A saltwater native with dense, firm, mild-flavored flesh that breaks apart in massive flakes when urged to do so with a fork. Catfish is a freshwater affair and is also mildly flavored, an attribute that becomes excessive in farm-raised varieties. I find the catfish born out of aquaculture flavorless and flaccid. It's fish for people who hate fish. But it's a thriving industry.
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If you're a fan of farm-raised catfish and a fan of fish and chips, then you'll undoubtedly find Neighborhood Services' version exceptional. If you're like me, however, in search of a more robust experience, head over to the Londoner; thanks be to cod.