Fish & Chips in Bath

This past weekend, our group travelled to Bath to do touristy things like sightsee, tour the Roman baths, view Bath Abbey, etc. Even though it seemed like we spent more time on our coach traveling back and forth from London than actually in Somerset, one really great thing came out of the trip: I ate the best fish and chips I’ve had – ever.

Toward the end of our day, a few of us grabbed lunch at a place we’d passed by on our walking tour: Garrick’s Head Pub. On a sign near the outdoor patio, they claimed to have the “best fish and chips in Bath” – a claim we didn’t verify on Urbanspoon, or Yelp, or anywhere – but it was a good thing we took them up on their word. Because it was an overcast day (see: pictures) and was threatening to downpour, we chose to sit inside. The interior of this pub was beautiful and cozy, with dark woods and dim but not-too-dark lighting. After a brief stint at the bar, our group of eight was seated in the main dining room of the pub.

Six of us ordered the fish and chips; the other two selections were simple bread and butter (obviously Ally wasn’t very hungry) and a savory cheese tart with a honey-glazed beet salad. While the bread and butter looked simple, it was impressive on quality: fresh sourdough bread was coupled with good butter and Maldon sea salt. And the tart was equally impressive (albeit in a more grandiose way). Filled with cheddar, mushrooms, caramelized onions, and spinach, it got rave reviews.

But we were clearly there for the fish and chips. Garrick’s Head receives fresh fish daily from Cornwall and this was evident. The fish was clearly fresh, flaky, and light and wasn’t weighed down by the chive-hinted batter at all. It was absolutely perfectly – not greasy or heavy, just light and crispy. Even the tartar sauce followed the same principles. Instead of a goopy store-bought mayonnaise mixture, this tartar sauce was composed of clearly homemade mayonnaise, pickles, lemon juice, and more herbs. The chips were amazing as well. They were triple-cooked; this method produced potato wedges that were crunchy but not burnt on the exterior, and fluffy like mashed potatoes on the interior. Clearly, this dish emphasized quality, not brute quantity. Too many places – especially on Fish Fry Friday in Buffalo – offer ridiculously sized portions of low-quality fish and fries. Instead, Garrick’s succeeded both conceptually and in execution.

We finished off the day with a bit more walking and a viewing of the gardens. Bath’s architecturally and historically impressive feats were a lot to take in! While I don’t think I’ll end up there again this semester, it was definitely a must-see, at least once. And the fish and chips didn’t hurt either.

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