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The Sunken Chip

British invasion.

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In France, steak frites and moules frites are as common as croissants. But poisson frites? Even though pommes frites are said to be the forefather of iconic British chips, few Parisians have discovered the pleasure of deep-fried, batter-dipped fish until now.

The Sunken Chip is the only restaurant in Paris dedicated solely to fish and chips. British owners Michael Greenwold and James Whelan gained their chops in smart spots (French establishments Roseval and L’Inconnu, respectively), so it’s no wonder that what they’ve launched is fish and chips moderne. Tucked down a narrow street in the cool Canal Saint-Martin neighbourhood, the tiny spot draws crowds that often spill out to the sidewalk—not predominantly expats and visitors from the United Kingdom, as you might expect, but rather hip young locals keen to sample real British cuisine.

The catch of the day can include plaice, sole, monkfish, and other poissons, all ethically caught near Finistère off the Brittany coast. Each generous hunk of fish is coated in light, crunchy batter, arrives blisteringly hot, and flakes delicately under an eco-friendly wooden fork. As for the chips, they’re served the classic way they should be, and a drizzle of Sarson’s Malt Vinegar adds authentic British flavour (the Sunken Chip is located, suitably, on “the street of the vinegar makers”).

What makes the plates resoundingly English are mushy peas—not the dismal scoop of khaki paste you encounter in London or Liverpool, but the vivid green of petits pois, still with some texture and shot through with shreds of fresh mint. Tartar sauce, made in-house, is an optional extra. You can add to the feeling you’re in the U.K. by picking from an English “pop” beverage, choices include Ben Shaws Dandelion and Burdock, Old Jamaica Ginger Beer, and Scottish stalwart Irn-Bru. Canisters hold Love Hearts, Dip Dabs, and other retro English “sweeties”.

Even for Paris, the room is petite—with just three communal tables, it’s all très conviviale. Efficient striped-shirted servers add French matelot charm. The chalkboard is in English; menu cards are helpfully bilingual. “Chip butty”, “fish nuggets”, and “battered sausages” all sound better in French, though someone has wisely figured that “ask for scraps” (crunchy morsels of leftover fried batter) doesn’t translate. A scarlet neon sign announces “Take Away”, and many do. On a mild day, few experiences are more pleasurable, or more Parisian, than toting your brown carry bag just up the street, perching beside the canal, and tucking into your fish and chips while you watch the boats go by.


Post Date:

January 2, 2014