Longing for the elusive fantastic Irish fish and chips, and realizing The Anchor Fish & Chips is open—at long last!—I headed up to Northeast Minneapolis. Now, granted normally I don’t drive far from my home in Seward for great food, but I knew in my gut this would be well worth it. I learned months ago from co-owner Luke Kyle that this would be the “real deal”: an authentic Irish-style fish and chips pub, just like he misses in Ireland.
Right away when I walked in from the “take away” entrance I was greeted by a friendly server, who ran up to greet everyone warmly as they entered. The vibe was warm, friendly, and bustling in the beautiful red-and-black room, with beautiful wood floors and countertop seating in front of the kitchen, where diners can watch the chippers dip the cod and fries and whip them out onto the counter, adding a pinch of coarse sea salt with a flourish.
The Guinness was poured properly, with the wait in-between, something we don’t see even at all the Irish pubs in Minneapolis, sadly, let alone the bars. The staff and people waiting were glowing with smiles, excitement, and anticipation as fish and chips flew out of the fryer.
You can order brown or curry gravy with your chips for a wee bit extra ($2.50). I ordered brown gravy at the recommendation of one of the owners. The menu is simple and straightforward, offering the primary traditional dishes of Ireland, plus burgers using local beef, ham, and Irish cheddar toasties, all for under $10! The beers, including Guinness and Harp, are all under $5. They serve food into the wee hours: 1 a.m. in the morning. It’s perfect sustenance after your evening at the 331 Club or the Ritz Theater. There will be traditional Irish breakfasts (the Full Whack, the Half Whack, and the Mini Whack) replete with bangers and rashers, black and white pudding, tomatoes, eggs, potato bread and Heinz beans, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
My fish and chips came out in mere minutes, beautifully golden and crispy. After sprinkling on the vinegar, I dipped the first fry into the gravy—delicious! The large hand-cut fries had a lightly crispy exterior, and melt-in-your-mouth interior, with robust flavor. The wild Alaskan cod (which I suspect could come from someone who someone knows working on a fishboat in Alaska—it tastes that fresh and fantastic) had a nice light crispy breading, with a delectably perfect firm, flaking fish. It was the most authentic fish and chips you could hope for.
Being of Irish descent—and a big fan of fish—I am curious to try fish and chips everywhere I go. These are the best I’ve ever had anywhere, and I said as much to co-owner Kathryn Hayes, who hails from Ireland. She smiled and noted it is true that it may be the best in America—she’s tried them in New York, Boston and more, and nothing came closer to Ireland’s fish & chips than these. “He’s the master,” she said, nodding at Kyle, who was continuously smiling as he was dipping the cod in the batter. Eating wonderful food in a warm, friendly vibrant environment such as this brings home the truth that food can bring us together.
We have the luck of the Irish to have this new restaurant in our midst. I will be back again soon to try the meat pasties and the shepherd’s pie, which I hear are fantastic.