Food

Fish Fry

A summertime staple

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The last time I ate fish and chips was from a takeout container precariously placed on the dashboard of my car, which was parked near the boat launch in Bayview.

My date and I had gotten takeout from the Old Edison Inn—battered cod, fries and coleslaw for me, and half a pound of clam strips with the works for him—but hadn’t thought ahead about where we’d enjoy our repast. Bayview State Park was days away from opening for camping or day use, so we risked making a mess in our vehicle in favor of eating lunch while it was still warm.

The view of the tide going out in Padilla Bay was lovely, as was the meal, but I’m a messy eater, and would’ve rather been sitting outside than in a cramped passenger seat.

Since then, I’ve been dreaming about having a proper fish-and-chips summer picnic complete with a table overlooking a body of water, the scent of sea air, and plenty of extra napkins. I’ve been asking around, and it turns out I have a number of options where the iconic meal is concerned.

The Friday Fish Fry at Boundary Bay Brewery appears to be right up my alley—literally. Through the summer, the Railroad Avenue brewery is opening up its Cedar Dust Alley from 4pm-8pm Fridays for a drive-thru experience that sees diners pull up, order either two- or three-piece servings of beer-battered cod and golden crinkle fries (with house-made coleslaw and tartar sauce, naturally), then vamoose to the scenic locale of their choosing (presumably with a BB growler in tow). To make sure your meal plan is secure, consider pre-ordering. Apparently, the 750 pieces of Alaskan cod offered each week sell out quickly, and when they’re gone, they’re gone—at least until the following Friday.

I’ve also been eyeing the fish-focused choices at Packers Restaurant inside Blaine’s Semiahmoo Resort. Although the eatery recently reopened for dine-in service, they’re still serving Packers Quick-Service to go on a first-come, first-served basis, including orders of their tasty beer-battered Pacific cod, halibut or salmon. That means I could grab dinner, secure a spot at one of the nearby beaches, and settle in for a stellar sunset.

Thanks to recommendations gleaned from friends, I’ve also been reminded of familiar favorites in or near downtown Bellingham such as Brandywine Kitchen’s fish and chips—which are gluten-free, but still knock it out of the park on the flavor scale—and B Town Kitchen’s delicious lager-battered Alaskan cod and chips. I’ve also sampled Rock and Rye’s excellent version of the dynamic duo, which a coworker deemed to be “huge,” “tasty” and “not greasy,” with “excellent french fries.”

I’m also looking forward to trying out selections from other suggestions, including Bellingham Bar & Grill’s fish and chips, which a friend said he liked for its “crispy crust, firm texture, low cost and generous portions” (he also awarded points for the “crunchy not oily” fries and beer selection).

The classic fish and chips at Twin Sisters Brewery also got an honorable mention, with attention paid to the cod’s “light, tempura-like batter” served with either regular or truffle fries.

A high school friend from Boise who now lives in Skagit County mentioned San Juan Lanes Bar and Grill in Anacortes (currently open for food, not bowling) and Gentlemen Gene’s Pub and Eatery in Mount Vernon as places her family frequents for the popular fish dish, but gave the most enthusiastic thumbs-up to La Conner Seafood and Prime Rib’s macadamia-crusted halibut.

Finally, a couple of people pointed to a restaurant on the main drag in Anacortes they couldn’t remember the name of, but that was described as being a “burger-joint-styled seafood place” that was definitely worth seeking out.

From what I could discern, they were talking about Bob’s Chowder Bar on Commercial Avenue. With a tagline of “feed the sailor inside,” the perennially popular eatery offers not one but seven choices when it comes to its pairings of wild-caught Alaskan cod. Additionally, seating on an expansive patio overlooking Fidalgo Bay means Bob’s meets all my aforementioned requirements for the perfect summer meal. Best of all, no reservations are required.

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