When I read “fish and chips” on a menu, it'd better resemble the United Kingdom-born, working-class meal of battered, fried cod and greasier-than-usual, thick-cut potatoes. Chefs and restaurateurs: It's amoral to serve a frou-frou “version” of the unmistakable classic and call it the same thing. Plagiarism of this sort makes diners feel tricked, especially when a breaded fish fillet and fluffy waffle fries arrive at the table—no matter how delicious they are.
You won't have to worry about any such trickery at The Field (544 Fifth Ave., Downtown), a two-level Irish tavern with a dark first floor that's like a countryside barn fit for a rager. It has a stage for folk music and dancing, enough whisky to make the world turn green and real fish and chips.
An Irish childhood friend of mine named Sinead (what else?) recommended the place to me, so I went hungry on a Saturday and willingly forked over $14.75 for three stout chunks of cod, hand-cut potatoes that still had some skin and creamy, simple coleslaw. (A small version for $7.95 is served during long happy hours—11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. 5 p.m. weekends—and on Mondays, the full portion is on special for $9.75.) It's served with the mandatory malt vinegar and tartar sauce—the latter not traced to Great Britain's origins but a customary addition no matter where in the world you are and great-tasting regardless. Sinead also recommended a side of curry for dipping the chips, and it proved an addition that I'll order from now on.
The crunchy batter was just the right thickness, encapsulating moist, flaky cod, and the chips—akin to steak fries—were penetrated with just the right amount of oil, making them silky and rich with some crispy skins here and there. Long after I was full, I couldn't help but dunk every last one into the creamy, rich curry sauce. Yum.
No-frills tavern fare served by a warm and friendly wait staff, many of whom are Irish (accents and all) makes The Field a Gaelic hideaway right under our noses in the Gaslamp Quarter. You won't want to leave. Slainte, San Diego!