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.
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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.
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.