Coming from the UK, the land of fish and chips, you're not expecting to come to Dublin and be slapped in the face with the best fish and chips you've ever tasted. Well slapped we were in the quaint seaside town of Howth, but probably not where you might have expected.
One of the best things about living in Dublin is the proximity of everything. You can live in Ranelagh, get in your car, drive along the coast and 30 minutes later arrive at Howth a picturesque seaside village known for its superb seafood, castle and cliff walk. When we used to live in Croydon, South London, 30 mins would probably get you stuck on the M25 no where near where you want to be. If you aren't driving, you can get the Dart straight to Howth from the city centre, its only a 30 minute journey.
There is something about the seaside that makes you want an ice cream and fish and chips. Don't worry at Howth you can get both super easily. There are a few fish and chip shops along the main road; all the usual suspects like Leo Burdocks and Beshoff Bros. For the fancier folk, there is Wrights of Howth which has a plethora of rave reviews. To be honest, we tried to go there for lunch on our first vist to Howth which happened to be a miserable rainy day. We went in to the restaurant, and stood by the reception table waiting for the man behind it to look up and acknowledge us. It was all rather awkward as it was a good few minutes which at the time felt 30 minutes before he spoke to us an perhaps in a ever so slightly patronising tone told us they were fully booked. Maybe it was our slightly bedraggled appearance from the rain that made us look like unwanted guests that needed a bit of condescension, however, that was enough to make me feel like a little tiny child and never want to go back. I'm admittedly sensitive and probably should get over it, but hey I'm just going to keep doing me.
Anyway I digress. I am actually eternally grateful to Wrights of Howth for being full that fateful day, as it led us to walk down the West Pier, past Crabby Jo's, Deep and Octopussy's Tapas, to a sandwich board saying "Fish and Chips sold here € 8.50". Considering Beshoff Bros sell their cod and chips for € 9.95, this is a bloody bargain. Where can you bag this bargain you ask? Dorans on the Pier, the fishmongers. That's the best thing about it. They catch the fish themselves, so its probably going to be the freshest fish and chips you've had - they've taken out the middle man! They also do a scampi and chips for the same price which Matt has ordered and can vouch that its just as delicious as the cod.
To order, go to the counter at the back of the store where they sell the prepared seafood products and place your order. They may not always be someone there, but that adds to the exclusiveness of these fish and chips (I like to think so anyway!). Once you place your order, its made fresh for you, so there is a 5-10 minute wait, which I like to use up by going to the fish counters and buying fresh fish for dinner. The prices for the fish are really reasonable, and the freshness and goodness is palpable.
The fish a chips comes in a typical box, with sachets of salt, vinegar, mayo and ketchup. The only drawback is there is no seating at Dorans, but it is a fishmonger, not a eatery, so what do you expect? If the weather is nice, and you like seagulls or feel indifferent to them, there are plenty of places to eat outside by the pier or at the park by the carpark. If like us, you are terrified of seagulls and feel highly protective of your food, run to your parked car and eat in safety inside. We are super dorky and prepared nowadays, so always bring some drinks, tissues and extra plastic cutlery should your plastic fork snap in your hand.
The fish itself is perfectly cooked and melts in your mouth, the batter is just crispy enough without being oily. It is the ideal size as well, as often I find myself getting really bored of eating a giant piece of fish halfway through a normal fish and chip meal, but here its just right - even the 6 foot 3 inch eating monster that is my husband agrees. The chips are nice, classic chunky chip shop chips, piping hot and fresh from the fryer. Again, not greasy, and the right amount.
I really can't fault it, and take any and every visitor we have to Dorans and have never heard any complaints. At € 8.50, it really is a brilliant price for such fresh good quality fish. I just wish the seagulls weren't so aggro at Howth, as it would be nice to enjoy the best fish and chips in the world outside of the confines of our car.
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