While most would not consider a fish and chips joint to be worthy of a restaurant review, Carlotta & Phil’s Fish & Chips is a bit different, in many different ways.
First of all, despite the American passion for sea foods, the ubiquitous British Fish & Chips stand never quite caught on here. But Carlotta Jones and her husband Phil want to change that fact. After returning from a protracted trip to England after selling their successful Deli chain, the Anglophile couple decided to try and bring their favorite food from their trip home with them. But in real British style.
When you enter Carlotta and Phil’s, you see at the rear a blue frame structure, something like a large newsstand you might see in a New York or Chicago street. Modeled after a genuine Fish & Chips stand, instead of papers and magazines, you have fish and chips.
The friers line three sides of the structure, allowing up to 35 orders to be cooked at once, and at peak evening hours, all the fryers are going full out.
Orders can be placed at the stand and carried to your table inside or out on the terrace, or you can order sit down style. A fully stocked salad bar with soups, chowders and other foods is also available to help round out your meal. A standard restaurant kitchen is also attached which can provide pastas, burgers, steaks and chops. And for those who are trying to cut down on fried foods, all of the fish on the menu can be steamed or poached.
Although, according to Phil, who runs the kitchen, the fryers are so hot that very little oil gets into the fish or the chips while cooking. As he explains it, the bubbling that you see when you put food in a fryer is the water from the food boiling out into the tank. If you take the food out before the boiling stops, there is very little chance for oil to get in.
Either way, people are lined up to get their favorite kind of deep fried fish, which is one of the other differences here at Carlottoa & Phil’s. Like their inspirations in England, they feature over 30 seasonal fishes that you can choose from.
The chips are always fresh and never frozen, shipped daily from various farms across the American Midwest.
Several house wines and a selection of beers are also available to enjoy with the food, but there is no bar service. Specialty soft drinks, like ginger beer and ‘Real English Tea’ are also on the menu.
The atmosphere is relaxed and extremely casual. The idea is to try and recapture the feel of real English street food, but in the comfort of a well lit and heated building.
Prices are quite reasonable, for the most part, especially if you go with the more common fish choices like haddock or cod. Specialty fish be a bit pricier, but a family of 4 can get in and out for under 35 dollars.
Service is good, especially if you elect to carry your dinner to your table. Carlotta is often making the rounds of the dining room, making sure that her guests are immersed in her Americanized version of English dining.