The Story Behind Fish n’ Chips

Do you support the North or the South?

No, it’s not an American debate of Blue versus Grey, but rather, a debate of where the first fish and chip dish was served in England. Some folks vote for 1860, at the East London shop of Joseph Malin, while others back John Lees and his fish hut in the Mossley market during 1863.

However, all agree that the first restaurant dedicated to the dish was opened by Samuel Isaacs in 1896. Located in London, the menu offered fish and chips, bread, and tea for a few pence. The shops’ posh decorations—including carpets, flowers, tablecloths, and porcelain dinnerware—brought a less bleary diet along with a finer way of dining to the British working class. It was affordable due to the abundant availability of white fish and because of the news wrapping the treat is known for . . . using the old papers helped keep costs down. The traditional packaging was used up until the late 1900’s, when the FDA stepped in, declaring the packaging unsanitary and forcing those in the food industry to begin using grease proof paper.

Whichever belief you follow, everyone can agree that a plate of light and crunchy, battered fish served alongside a pile of crisp, salty chips—better known in the US as French fries—is a pub favorite. Arch City Tavern’s version is great, and folks in the Short North should check it out next time they come in. Pair it with one of our twenty-four draft beers (or over thirty bottled selections) and prepare to be in tavern heaven.


A Few Fun Facts About Fish and Chips:

American fish and chips vs. British fish and chips

·         Batter: flour and milk or beer vs. flour and water

·         Frying oil: peanut or vegetable oil vs. lard

·         Sides: tartar sauce and coleslaw vs. mushy peas and malt vinegar


The first ‘chip’ may have been created as a replacement to fish when the rivers froze over and the resource became scarce—and originated in either Belgium or France, not England.

At the time the chip was being created, the concept of fried fish was making its way to England compliments of Jewish refugees from Portugal and Spain.

Cod or Haddock are the most popular white fish used in the dish.

Oh, and ours is the best.  That’s a fun fact too.

No Replies to "The Story Behind Fish n' Chips"