Autumn at Eamon’s

A crazy Friday night, one thing leads to another, and we end up in Old Town Alexandria. Streets are relatively empty, just a few fleeting cars here and there, and the occasional pedestrian – some single, some in pairs, a few groups.

Our first Eamon’s experience was in the scorching summer. Streets were bustling with seasonal tourists, humidity was creeping up to get-out-of-my-face levels, and the fish fry joint was too damn crowded.

Who figured, the cooler autumn breeze is a better match for fish and chips. And dinner too. Late night dinner. The scorching heat and the hustle of an early afternoon tourist crowd takes away from the whole experience, and you feel robbed. Friday had the breeze, it had the glimmering October moonlight, and there were no crowds. Just an empty bench, some folks chattering over a round of Guinness, and the smell of beer-battered fish.

The classic cod is always perfect. A deep golden-brown crunch, still steaming hot, with a perfect blend of buttery and beery. The fillet is fresh, moist, not too flaky or dry. Goes well with classic tartar sauce, and of course, those thick-cut chips with a dash of malt vinegar.

The ray melts in your mouth. It’s almost indescribable, but if I may – it’s like a combination of hamachi fillet, crab or lobster tamale, and lobster claw meat. Not fishy at all. Creamy. The meat is stringy, but only by it’s looks. On your tongue, it’s soft and buttery at the same time, especially the meat along the long, white cartilage. A spiced chili sauce best accompanies the milkiness of the ray.

Eamon’s had it’s share of fame – even Bourdain dined there. But to soak in its true flavors, to really dive into the Old Town experience, go at night, after the crowd disperses. Go when it’s colder, October, maybe November. Have a whole bench to yourself. A couple fillets, hot chips, a Guinness.

The night has just begun.

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