Bottom Feeding

Casting to find the best fish and chips

Casey Moore's in Tempe is superior to both LJS and Rula Bula. At $10, it's not the best cod I've had, nor the worst. Still, the establishment deserves praise for its congenial wait staff and the lovely ambiance of the old converted house it occupies. Demerits for not having thicker fries, though. I would most definitely eat there again, but I'll probably choose something other than fish and chips next time.

And, at last, we come to my three favorite fish and chips spots, with only a fin's space between them: Seamus McCaffrey's, next to the San Carlos downtown; George and Dragon near Central and Indian School; and Rosie McCaffrey's just east of Seventh Street on Camelback.

Third-place finisher Seamus' fish and chips are quite nice, with a delicious auburn crust on the cod pieces. (I always imagine Henry VIII when I use that phrase.) These come with thick fries, and, at $8.09 a plate, they're a pretty dandy deal. Seamus McCaffrey's also prepares a killer Irish whiskey cake, which would make W.C. Fields weep were he alive and able.

No ketchup, but the freezer-burn is free .  .  .
Jackie Mercandetti
No ketchup, but the freezer-burn is free . . .

Location Info

Map

Rosie McCaffrey's Irish Pub

906 E. Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85014

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Central Phoenix

Details

Rosie McCaffrey's Irish Pub: 906 East Camelback, 602-241-1916. Kitchen open Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight.

George and Dragon English Restaurant and Pub: 4240 North Central, 602 -241-0018. Kitchen open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Just ahead of Seamus is the George and Dragon. The good G&D boasts all the atmosphere of a real British pub, which is to say it smells of cigarette butts, spilled beer and urine. A brilliant place, as the Brits would say, it serves a $9.95 entree of fish and chips, with thick fries, peas and all the tangy, brown HP sauce you desire. You get two large pieces of cod, which are neither over-battered nor undercooked. By the way, kudos for their spotted dick, a giant bowl of sponge pudding filled with raisins and sultanas and topped with a thick, creamy layer of Birds' English custard.

At the top of the fish and chips heap is Rosie McCaffrey's Irish Pub, owned by Seamus McCaffrey, who once owned the aforementioned bar/restaurant before selling it to his barman Frank Murray. Rosie's is easily the most attractive pub in the city, with stained-glass windows depicting fair Irish maidens, and portraits of famous Irishmen on the walls. So it's no surprise that it has the best fish and chips in the city, which are a bargain at $9.95 a serving. The chips are big and satisfying, and they come with two fat cuts of cod that are fried a delicate golden brown. Underneath, the fish is moist, flaky, and fresher-tasting than any other I've had in the Valley.

According to Rosie's kitchen manager Shelli Johannpeter, the secret is in the consistency of the batter. She's careful, it seems, to avoid letting the batter get too thick, and thereby eluding the dreaded Rula Bula effect. Now if Rosie had peas like at George and Dragon, its fish and chips would be nonpareil. Might there be some Irish equivalent of spotted dick? The color of shamrocks, perhaps? That's another spotted dick I'd be proud to pop in my mouth, you betcha.

E-mail stephen.lemons@newtimes.com.

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