Fried fish to make an Irishman misty
Standing in a long queue of Irish ex-pats at the Battery, a new counter-service fish-and-chips shop in Brighton Center, I pondered what local foods I'd miss if I moved overseas. Nostalgia is a powerful thing at the table. For example, I cherish certain low-rent dishes my mom served me as a kid (e.g., egg-and-bologna salad on white bread) that would bemuse or horrify my adult friends. With this in mind, I'll say that the Battery's fried fish is brilliant, and its chips (deep-fried potatoes cut wider than French fries) are, well, probably just what the regulars are pining for.
The fried fish is a good-size boneless, skinless fillet of haddock ($7.95) or pollack ($5.95) in a light, chewy, slightly crunchy batter; an excellent fry job yields just a bit of residual grease. The haddock is firmer and more flavorful — worth the premium. Both benefit from sprinklings of malt vinegar and salt. Another $3 adds a big pile of chips and one side dish: peas (a/k/a mushy peas, essentially a thick green-pea soup), curry (sweetish brown gravy punched up with Raj-style curry powder), or Irish coleslaw (shredded cabbage and carrots blandly dressed with mayo). These chips are golden but limp, the result of under-heated oil or oversize batches. A friend from Loughrea (County Galway) by way of Limerick assures me this wimpiness isn't authentic, but notes that even well-crisped chips get soggy when the sides are ladled on top, as is done in traditional fashion here. To eke out extra crunch, ask for your sides on the side, and don't miss the ferocious garlic mayo (50 cents).
The Battery adeptly batter-fries many other foods, including a frankfurter-like sausage ($2.95), mashed-potato pie ($3.50), hamburger patty ($3.75), and onion rings ($2.95). Token nods to healthier eating include Irish salad ($4.95), a generous plate of greens garnished with pickled beets and hard-cooked eggs. Bottled soft drinks include Irish imports Lilt and Fanta sodas and English sports drink Lucozade ($1.95). The clean, bright storefront has only 14 seats, so many customers do takeaway. Lines grow in the early evening and after the nearby pubs close, a pattern that points to my future ordering strategy here. I'll return for that delectable fried fish at dinner, and get those chips late at night as a greasy, starchy bookend to a leisurely evening spent over a succession of pints.
The Battery, located at 379 Washington Street, in Brighton, is open on Tuesday and Wednesday, from 11 am to 11 pm, and Thursday through Monday, from 11 am to 1 am. Call 617.987.0884.
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