When I see superlatives, I’m driven to challenge them. Best taco, top 10 burgers, worst salad, I have to eat them all. So when I saw that Mr. Cod’s website claims they serve “UK’s Most Famous Fish & Chips,” I demanded a plate. Then I tried a few other dishes. The results suggest Mr. Cod’s advertising team was wise to limit their claim to one dish.
If you get the famous fish and chips, you’ll find that the fish strips are crisp and the meat flaky. They’re great with malt vinegar, which is on every table, as well as cocktail and tartar sauces. The chips are on the salty side, but that goes well with all the vinegar you’ll be sprinkling on the plate. Even though there’s a lot of fish on the menu at Mr. Cod, my advice to would-be diners is to cleave to the cod. The Pollack fish strips look about the same as the cod, but my order was mushy on the inside. Ditto the crab cakes, which reminded me of brown hockey pucks — bizarrely uniform and even. The crab meat was soggy and greasy in the middle despite great flavor.
The rest of the sea’s bounty processed by Mr. Cod’s fast-food apparatus was similarly challenged. The calamari was nicely spiced, though a bit chewy. If you’re getting shrimp, order the full-size, not the popcorn. The large fried shrimp are firm and crisp, but the popcorn shrimp come out, well, flaccid. I fared better with the Baja fish tacos, which contained cilantro and chipotle mayo. Each taco comes in two corn tortillas, which I appreciate, since most store-bought corn tortillas fall apart the moment you touch them. They were noticeably spicy, pretty crisp, and clean-tasting.
Health warning: If you’ve ever suffered a coronary or think another injection of grease could put you at risk, you might want to stick to the tacos. Almost everything on the menu here is fried and yellow. This may seem obvious, but in these litigious times, I don’t want to be sued if you keel over after consuming an entire sampler plate of deep-fried fish — I can’t afford to buy Plavix for all you Current readers.
It’s never a good sign when it takes 40 minutes to get a plate of fried food. Especially when you’re one of 10 people in the whole restaurant. I have no idea why it took so long, but it appears Mr. Cod hasn’t gotten its sea legs yet. Owner José Luis Gonzalez Roa tells me the location opened a scant seven months ago and they’re still in the process of acquiring their liquor license. Certainly a beer would help pass the time while you wait for your fish and chips.
As a friend said, “Mr. Cod is about as British as Foster’s is Australian.” But is that a bad thing? Not really. Lack of authenticity can be forgiven if it’s cheap. For the price of three gallons of gas, you can get chips, popcorn shrimp, calamari, a fish strip, and a fish taco. For a full SUV tank, you can get a bounty of fish, calamari, hush puppies, chips, and even pie. That doesn’t mean Mr. Cod deserves a Michelin star, but in these tough economic times, let’s face it, cheap counts.
5890 De Zavala
11am-9pm Mon-Sat, closed Sun