Saturday, July 21, 2007

Best Fish & Chips in Portland?


The call was made shortly before ten. John the Irishman was feeling a bit sluggish, but I managed to persuade him to head out for a pint or two. I rode over to his apartment, and as we mounted our bikes to set out for the evening, we were a little unsure of where to go. We've both been sort of fed up with the usual haunts of late, the usual haunts being the Bonfire, the Moon and Sixpence, the Horse Brass and the Basement. Holman's was brought up, and I suggested the Chin Yen lounge as well, but neither place seemed to fit the bill. We rode by Lucky's, had a peek in the front door, and ruled that out pretty quickly. Then John made an unexpected suggestion: The Rose and Thistle, a scottish pub up in Irvington. I hadn't been there in probably six, maybe seven years, back when I lived in that neighborhood (incidentally, my grandmother grew up in Irvington, back in the 1910-20s). Yes, the Rose and Thistle... That's the place!

We arrived and locked up our bikes outside, and as we were walking in, I caught a look from an very attractive gal on crutches out on the sidewalk. I shot that look right back at her, and was hoping she would come back in, but unfortunately it didn't happen. At any rate, John and I settled in and ordered our pints (Newkie Brown for me, some scottish ale or other for John. In all the years I've known the guy, I've never once seen him order a Guinness). Being a bit hungry, I began to peruse the food menu, and ultimately decided on that old pub standard, fish & chips.

What arrived was a pleasant surprise. I'm rarely wowed by fish & chips, but these were better than usual. Much better than usual, as a matter of fact. Neither the fish nor the chips were what you would call truly remarkable, but they were both good enough that together they came to more than the sum of their parts. The fish was moist and crumbly, with a perfectly crisp yet minimal batter, and not the least bit greasy. The chips were just thick enough, and cooked to perfection. Now I've sampled fish & chips around town a time or two. The Moon and Sixpence does a fine job. Halibut's has come up with a good formula, and the Corbett Fish House in John's Landing does a nice version as well, with non trans-fat oil and gluten-free rice flour, no less. And there's a little place out in the Gorge (I forget the name) that has a pretty formidable offering. But the fish & chips I had tonight were probably the best I've had in the nearly eight years I've lived here. Has anyone out there had the fish & chips at the Rose and Thistle? Or do any of you know of a place that might top what I ate tonight? Among a certain set, fish & chips can be a contentious issue, like BBQ in Memphis or KC, so feel free to chime in with your opinions! Discuss...

I didn't get a shot of the fish & chips (I don't typically bring my camera to the bar), so I've selected the above mugshot of Rip Torn to stand in for my dinner.

Good beer and good food in the presence of good people always makes for a nice evening. But if only that girl on crutches had come back in...

5 comments:

patrick said...

tommy-- the kennedy school, on a good night, has some of the best fish + chips i've had. i was somewhat astonished at how good they were and I commented to the waitress. She said that they had begun battering the fish to order. It was, shall we say, swimmingly fresh. Light, crispy, and flavorful with very fresh fish taste.

Alas, we went back the next week and got some lousy f+c. I guess you could call it a "crappie shoot" -- ha ha ha! It's certainly harder than shooting fish in a barrel.

Anyway, I would advise visiting the Kennedy School on a busy prime time night like Friday or Saturday. Eat at the bar. And try the fish and chips.

Meanwhile we'll have to give the rose + thistle a try.

best

patrick

tommy said...

Fresh Fish Flavor!

Still, it's McMenamin's... I'm skeptical. But I'll give it a try next time I'm up that way.

patrick said...

well, give us a holler... we could probably be convinced to join you. at either place, actually.

Trisha said...

ugh! fish!

tommy said...

No, really Trisha, stop beating around the bush. Tell us how you really feel about fish...