Archive

Tag Archives: fish and chips

With no hesitance, I may say that I return to restaurants for the food. If the food leaves even a slight inscription, I most likely shall return.

At times, however, the inner markings of an establishment, in conjunction with the distinct quality of the food served, also leaves more than a slight inscription on my palette of memories. At times, the mere act of entering an establishment, sitting, and staying seated, has significance that surpasses any level of deliciousness, and exponentially multiplies the joys of dining.

This is why I find myself repeatedly returning to Eamonn’s in Alexandria, VA.

The beer-battered, deep fried cod is a popular classic, the grouper is also fantastic, and my favorite, the ray, literally evaporates on your tongue, bones and all. Eamonn’s fish and chips are superb, but here I focus on its innards.

The innards of Eamonn’s – classic, rustic, new, old, discombobulated, random. Everything you’d want in a chipper. As with many old Alexandria shops, the original brick walls are still in tact, serving as the base of everything that goes on it, in front of it and above it. The dark brown wood frames seem almost as old as the bricks themselves, the chipped crimson hue and the wood creating an overall rich, dark setting.

This darkness is balanced with the somewhat out of place chandeliers and “stained” glass on one side of the wall. The warm yellow lights slowly ooze from the candle-like fixtures, creeping through the Guinness and oil permeated air. The lighting, both man-made and natural, convert the “darkness” to “warmth,” a temperature of the mind that calls upon relaxation and a desire to stay.

As with great pieces of art or fashion ensembles, there are splashes of vibrant color throughout the establishment. Purple, green, and red from the displayed Maltesers and other candies, the not -so-subtle, forest green Guinness balloon, and the sexy fish on the wall, swimming in a sea of mustard yellow.

“Thanks be to Cod.” Yes, and Thanks be to the Capital E.

Eamonn’s A Dublin Chipper

*          *          *

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.

%d bloggers like this: