I love traditional fish ‘n chips, a British staple dating back to the 1900’s (or earlier).
For me, there’s nothing better than a light, crispy beer batter, smothering a hot, tender piece of fish (preferably cod, as is tradition). The chips should be thick cut, a bit crisp on the outside and soft on the inside then drizzled with malt vinegar. A pickled onion would not go amiss with this lovely dish either and one cannot do without a serving of tartar sauce to dip it all in. That is just the way ‘I’ like it.
Even after living in Switzerland for close to 9 years, from time to time I still crave a hot serving of fish ‘n chips with a cold beer on a summer’s day. So, when I find myself in what is a self-labelled ‘traditional English pub’, the first thing I check is if they have my favourite on the menu. Clearly if they don’t, there’s something very wrong in my opinion!
Today, was just such a day, when all I wanted was a taste of hot fish in light, crispy batter with a squeeze of fresh lemon and hint of malt vinegar, I made my way into Zurich city a bit earlier for my appointment and headed into The Nelson Pub in Beatengasse (“An original English pub” according to their website). The charming bar lady offered me a menu and I asked immediately if they had traditional fish and chips, I wouldn’t need the menu. My meal came in about 12 minutes – which is to be expected if it freshly prepared. This is what I was presented with:
Unfortunately, it didn’t look appetising from the onset. It seemed more shallow-fried than deep fried, with dark patches on the batter.
The batter, as it turned out, was undercooked and still doughy closest to the fish, it was thick and quite tasteless. At the least the fish was warmed through. The chips were equally disappointing with a strange texture which led me to think they had been reheated, possibly cooked half an hour prior to my order. I didn’t finish my lunch as it was all in all very disappointing.
I know of Nelson’s to be a fun place to hang out at night, till the early hours, and if you’re new in town, here’s where you’ll meet local, English-speaking expats – it’s clearly just not the place to go looking for traditional English fare.
And so begins my ideal fish ‘n chips search, as I go from one ‘English’ pub to another in the city (perhaps the country?) to find the best!