Montclair resident Lorna Rundle says the “best fish and chips in the world are these from Mike’s on Essex Road in London. How will our local fish and chips compare?

Introducing “Local Flavor Face-Off,” a new column where we put our community’s culinary scene to the test. We’ll try the same dish or cocktail at four different local spots and declare a winner. Kicking it off is the British classic: Fish and chips!

Montclair has a sizable British community, possibly be due to its sister city relationship with the London borough of Barnet since WWII. So, to learn what makes fish and chips authentically British, I reached out to locals who originally hail from the U.K.

According to Lorna Rundle, originally from North London, proper fish and chips should consist of a large portion of crispy cod. The chips must be crispy and can be cut in different lengths, but they should be the same width and thickness. Malt vinegar and lots of salt are a must, as are mushy peas on the side. Lorna says the best fish and chips in the world are from Mike’s on the Essex Road in London. (pictured on photo above)

Sarah Colwell, a fellow Brit, agrees: “Fish should be cod; tartar sauce is a must. Chips should be on the plumper side with lots of malt vinegar and salt.” Lisa Davies, a Welsh native who resided in Montclair for many years and currently calls Dublin home, emphasized the importance of a substantial fish portion and chunky chips with generous lashings of malt vinegar.

Using this criteria—a substantial serving of crispy fish, thick-cut fries, malt vinegar, tartar sauce and mushy peas—here’s how I rated the fish and chips from our local restaurants:

Fish and Chips from Fish Delish.

Fish Delish (590 Valley Road, Montclair)
Cost: $19:50 (Take out)

  • Type and portion of fish: Two medium-sized portions of cod.
  • Sides & Sauces: Comes with tartar sauce, coleslaw and ketchup. No mushy peas or malt vinegar.
  • Chips: thin shoestring fries.

The fish from Fish Delish was excellent! It was super fresh and perfectly fried, but this is not authentic British fish and chips—shoestring fries are not “chips.” If you want really good fish, though, Fish Delish is a great option.

Fish and Chips from Brick Lane Chip Shop

Brick Lane Chip Shop (540 Valley Road, Montclair)
Cost: $14 (Take out)

  • Type and portion of fish: Two medium-sized portions of cod.
  • Sides & Sauces: The order didn’t come with sauces or sides, but you add them for an extra fee: malt vinegar +$.50, tartar sauce +$2, mushy peas +$2
  • Chips: large thick-cut fries

While the chips were rather good, the fish was a bit soggy and seemed breaded rather than battered. I’m a fan of Brick Lane’s curries, especially the Goan Chicken, but unfortunately, the fish and chips were not the restaurant’s best.

Fish and Chips from Cloverleaf Tavern

Cloverleaf Tavern (395 Bloomfield Avenue, Caldwell)
Cost: $20.50

  • Type and portion of fish: Three medium-sized pieces of cod
  • Sides & Sauces: Comes with tartar sauce, malt vinegar and a lemon slice
  • Chips: short and thick-cut fries

Cloverleaf Tavern’s fish and chips are really good. The chips were perfect—chunky, expertly fried and generously salted. The portion of fish was very generous, too, but it was three pieces rather than one large piece. And there were no mushy peas. Still, I would definitely go back for more.

Fish and Chips at Egan and Sons

Egan and Sons (116 Walnut Street, Montclair)
Cost: $26

  • Type and portion of fish: One large portion of cod.
  • Sides & Sauces: Comes with tartar sauce, malt vinegar and mushy peas.
  • Chips: thick-cut fries

The Irish pub does it right. Egan’s fish and chips, although the priciest of the four, was the clear winner. It comes with all the traditional sides and sauces and was a good portion of both fish and chips. The only thing that could have improved this dish was an even bigger piece of the perfectly battered and fried fish.

Have a food or drink you’d like to see in an upcoming “Local Flavor Face Off?” Let us know in comments!

Editor, writer, social media manager. Food, cocktail and coffee lover. Proud Jersey girl.

One reply on “Local Flavor Face-Off: Fish and Chips”

  1. Crocket’s also serves up a terrific fried fish. It’s been located at 162 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair for many years.

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