A Salt & Battery

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After a few too many meals at Terrace Fish & Chips, I decided it was about time I find a chippy that actually sells, you know, fish and chips. Real fish and chips—not just fried fish and french fries. Terrace has its place (although I did write above-linked post in a fried-fish-deprived frenzy, and if I were to revise it, I’d probably take the praise therein down a notch or two), but I wanted better. So I went searching, and A Salt & Battery was what I found.

The reviews were great, the menu was promisingly simple, and the location was convenient enough—so I gave them a call, and sure enough, there are no nuts used in any of their food. Plus, their various British cashiers are exceedingly friendly, and they’re always willing to double-check on the answers to my incessant ingredient-related questions.

There are two catches, though. First, A Salt & Battery sells deep-fried Mars and Lion Bars. (The former may contain both peanuts and tree nuts, and the latter contains peanuts and may contain tree nuts.) The bars shouldn’t pose much of a risk for those with tree nut allergies, though, given that the rest of A Salt & Battery’s food (say, whatever might end up going through the same fryer, if that’s even something that happens) would only potentially contain trace amounts of the bars, which would themselves only contain trace amounts of nuts, if any at all. Plenty of degrees of removal—so I’m fine with the bars’ presence.

And then there’s the bread. A Salt & Battery offers a chip butty, a side of bread & butter, and a fish sandwich that are all made with—you guessed it—bread. And while I’ve never even really considered ordering any of the above, I figured I’d better at least ask about the bread. Turns out, the folks at A Salt & Battery don’t know much about it, other than the fact that it doesn’t explicitly contain any nuts. Evidently, they get it from “next door”—their cashiers are always going Next Door to double-check on the answers to my questions—but all they’ve been able to tell me is that the bread may come with a “may contain” warning. So I stick to the rest of the menu.

Onion rings from A Salt & Battery

Onto the place itself, though. A Salt & Battery is, in a word, authentic. Unmistakably so, with its traditional-style food, its wide array of British drinks, its accented cashiers (and customers), and its complete lack of hype-inducing frills. There are two counters and one small table: in all, about 8 seats. Wall decorations include a sign listing the rules of their food-eating challenge, a leaderboard for said food-eating challenge, two menu boards, and some framed (fish-and-chip-related) pictures. This place is simple, and its simplicity lends to its authenticity. My only gripe, really, is that the stools are way too short for the tables. (This isn’t even an issue of my being short—normal-heighted people are going to notice this one, too.)

But I should probably get to talking about food. I’ll start, I guess, by saying that it’s really, really good. In terms of fish (and shellfish), they offer six types: cod, haddock (pictured at the top of this post), sole, whiting, shrimp, and scallops. I love the haddock—it’s my favorite by far, for reasons I can’t quite articulate—but I eat a lot of the sole and the whiting, too. The cod’s fine, but I’m not much of a fan of cod, and I’m not really one for deep-fried shrimp or scallops, so I can’t say much about those. But in general, the fried fish is undeniably solid. The batter’s light and crispy, and the fish itself is flavorful and pleasantly flaky. It’s all fried to order, and the portions are pretty big, too.

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By the way, their homemade tartar sauce (immediately above) is so, so good. It’s nice and tangy, and it complements the fish (and the chips!) perfectly. Usually, I’m into malt vinegar (which they have, no doubt)—but at A Salt and Battery, a shake of salt and a dab of tartar sauce are all I need to thoroughly enjoy me some fried fish. Well, that and some sides, of which they have plenty: chips, onion rings, gravy, pickled onions, deep-fried beets, potato dabs, mushy peas, baked beans, curry sauce, and bread with butter.

Since this is, after all, a post about a fish-and-chip shop, I suppose I’ll have to spend some time talking about chips. But I have a confession: I’m not a chip person. I like my deep-fried potatoes thin-cut—as thin-cut as possible, really—so chips just don’t do it for me. Having said that…I actually sort of like A Salt & Battery’s. They don’t bother me, at least, and that’s saying something. (Also, even for $5, the portion is huge. Way more than enough for one person, and definitely enough for two to share.)

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I like to drench my chips with A Salt & Battery’s gravy (see immediately above), which is good, if not incredibly flavorful—and I like to break up bites of grease with surprisingly refreshing nibbles of their super-vinegary pickled onions. I stay away from the onion rings (pictured second above)—they’re way too bland—and I’m not much of a mushy-peas fan, but whaddaya gonna do? These fish and chips alone make for a pretty hefty meal, so while I, forever indecisive, always tell myself I can order more sides at the end of my meal if I end up unsatisfied, I’ve never ended a meal at A Salt & Battery with even the slightest bit of room left in my stomach.

Obviously, I’m a fan of this place—and obviously, I recommend it. Find it at 112 Greenwich Avenue, between 12th and 13th Streets.

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