I decided to commemorate my British heritage by taking a trip to Haddonfield, New Jersey. I did this not because the British occupied it three times during the Revolutionary War, but rather to feast on some English cuisine. The Union Jack hanging outside the British Chip Shop on King’s Highway showed me I found the right place.
I liked the homey feel of the décor. Solid red brick made up the walls. Various pictures of fox hunts and famous Brits adorned them. Of course, as a writer and public speaker I appreciated the photo of Britain’s most famous Nobel Laureate, Sir Winston Churchill. The red color of the interior made it seem much smaller that it’s actual capacity. (They also provide outdoor seating.) I settled right in and prepared for dishes that our friends across the pond enjoy.
I informed my server that I’d never been to this establishment. He recommended that genuine British stand-by: the Fish and Chips. (Patrons may order one of three different sizes ranging in price from $9.00 to $15.00.) I’ve enjoyed Fish and Chips before, but never like this. The fish had a crunchy exterior, yet it flaked easily on the inside. I didn’t require a knife to cut it.
The quality of the chips surprised me the most. I’ve always thought that the Irish had a monopoly on proficient potato preparation. Apparently, some of that aptitude made its way across the Irish Sea to Great Britain. The chips (or “fries” as we Yanks call them) tasted so fresh I thought the chef just peeled them. I can’t recall a time when I enjoyed my entire meal, yet the quality of the potatoes stood out the most. I applaud the British Chip Shop for this feat.
I really enjoyed the Fish and Chips, but that seemed a bit banal in terms of sampling British food. I know my readers expect something more from me. Such are the perils of being an internet food critic. I stopped by the British Chip Shop for dinner one evening and, once again, had to try something with potatoes.
I began my meal with the Potato Leek Soup. ($5.00) A lot of places go broth heavy when it comes to soup: not the British Chip Shop. The large quantity of potatoes in the bowl surprised me. Once again, they tasted fresh as though someone just peeled them.
For an entree I selected the Mussels in Ale. ($13.00) The sauce possessed a distinct flavor. It didn’t contain too much butter and tasted much milder than what I’m used to. At times clam sauce can make one’s taste buds feel as though they’ll explode off the tongue; not this one. I thought the sauce very smooth on the palette. I give the preparers great credit for getting the seasoning just right.
The dinner came with garlic flavored chips for dipping. These were actual “chips” not “fries”. Once again, I thought the seasoning perfect. The garlic tasted more temperate than what I expected.
The only criticism I had involved the beverage. The second time I dined there I drank the iced tea which tasted fantastic. On my first visit I wanted to try something I couldn’t get anywhere else. I ordered a can of Barritt’s Ginger Beer. (This is Haddonfield so the drink contained no alcohol.) It initially had a sharp ginger flavor that gave way to a sweet aftertaste, almost like syrup. The drink contained 200 calories and 49 grams of sugar. Between the caffeine and the sugar, I didn’t know if I’d be able to sit still long enough to finish my meal. With all that noted, I would point out that I wanted to try something different and Barritt’s certainly delivered. I can’t fault the establishment for that.
The British Chip Shop received an “Excellent” Zagat’s rating in 2013. They lived up to it on both occasions I dined there. The British have invaded Haddonfield for a fourth time. This time it looks like they’re here to stay.