Pooler’s British Fish & Chip Shop

Pooler’s British Fish & Chip Shop

When you ask a British ex-pat living in the US what they miss about their homeland, they’re sure to say ‘proper fish & chips’ accompanied by a long sigh. You might be confused by what we mean by ‘proper’, and since we at Pie Society started serving them in our store in Pooler, GA, we thought we could shed some light on what makes our’s the real deal!

Classic British Fish & Chips are characterized by one huge piece of fried cod (or haddock), with flavorful and crunchy batter on the outside and flaky delicate fish on the inside. On the side you must have ‘chips’ (no not potato chips!), which are like chunky steak fries but much softer and with distinctive flavor. Don’t forget the mushy peas- a well-loved British classic that is sure to confuse most non-British people but is best described as the consistency of refried beans but made with marrowfat peas & flavored with mint. Fish & Chips in the US is a dish which usually has 3-4 goujon style pieces of fish and thin and crispy french fries served with tartar sauce- not traditional but still delicious in it’s own right!

Classic Fish & Chips served at Pie Society in Pooler! North Atlantic cod in our scratch-made chip shop style batter, proper chips & house mushy peas, served with a pint of Boddingtons.

So why are we arguably overly obsessed with this delicious meal? Because it’s cheap, delicious and steeped in history! Dating back to the 19th century, fried fish was first introduced to the UK by Jewish refugees from Portugal and Spain, and in 1860, the first fish and chip shop was opened in London by Joseph Malin who sold “fish fried in the Jewish fashion”[1].

Fish & Chips were a cheap and easy way to feed the masses a delicious meal, and in WWII it was one of the few food items that were not rationed. In fact some have gone far enough to say that they helped win the war! As Professor Walton informs us “Unlike the German regime that failed to keep its people well fed and that was one reason why Germany was defeated.”, “Historians can sometimes be a bit snooty about these things but fish and chips played a big part in bringing contentment and staving off disaffection.”[2]. There you go America, you think you saved our backsides but really it was the Fish & Chips!

It is with fond memories that we remember ourselves as kids, paying 90p for a ‘cone of chips’ when walking home from school on a typical dreary English afternoon. And eating Fish & Chips by the seaside whilst on holiday in Skegness, pretending to enjoy the beach with freezing fingers and a very useless wooden chip fork.

Today, there are approximately 11000 Fish & Chips shop in the UK.[3] And with options few and far between this side of the pond, we thought it was time to make sure there was one in Georgia too! It’s pretty typical in the UK to see pies in a Fish & Chip Shop, so it made sense to expand our menu after many requests from local British expats. As bakers who have absolutely zero experience with cooking Fish & Chips, we needed some inside information on how to get this right. With the help from our cousin Jonny in the UK, who had trained at the National Federation of Fish Friers in Yorkshire, we recreated our very own Fish & Chips menu in our store in Pooler. The menu includes a full 8-10oz portion of fish, our own homemade mushy peas, curry sauce and beef gravy (the same gravy as our pies, thick and rich with actual pieces of beef steak), and chunky homemade tartare sauce for our American friends. The fish and the chips are all fried in beef tallow for amazing flavor as is tradition, although we do now offer Vegetarian frying on request.

Some of this may sound a little foreign if you’ve never been to a British chippy. So, some top tips for how to eat your Fish & Chips. The most important thing is that Salt and Vinegar is a MUST. The chips are not seasoned when they come out of the oven, so make sure you grab those oversized bottles on the table. John Lennon used to eat his with ketchup, Michael Jackson was a huge fan of mushy peas, and Winston Churchill referred to his as ‘the good companions’[4]. We have to agree with him on that. And if you want to grab them to go, it only takes 5 minutes! Traditionally they were served on wax paper on top of old newspaper, but since that isn’t the most food safe option we go for regular food safe paper, and we will wrap them up hot to go.

It may sound like we are being overly fastidious over a dish that is pretty simple. But achieving the perfect Fish & Chips has not been easy! It took a while to get those classic chippy sides without the easy access to British ingredients, but we’ve definitely got it down. A lot of experimentation occurred with our fish in particular, as we originally started out with Pacific Cod (Alaskan) but recently switched to North Atlantic Cod after discovering that it was meatier and held together better with the batter. Our batter recipe also went through some alterations in March and we are now proud to say we have the crispiest, most flavorful & authentic Fish & Chips for miles around!

If we’ve convinced you that this is a must try on your local food list, come down to Pie Society in Pooler, GA and enjoy the new smells of salt, vinegar and fried fish every Wednesday (11am-3pm) Thursday- Saturday (11am-8pm), and Sunday (11am-3pm). Now serving a great selection of wines, & beers from Britain, Europe and the US.

And if you’re really brave, try the battered Mars Bar with ice-cream!

[1] Hughes, Glynn “Chip-Shop Fried Fish”. The Foods of England Project.

[2] Alexander, James (18 December 2009). “The unlikely origin of fish and chips”. BBC News.

[3] Lemm, Elaine (27th March 2018). “Traditional British Fish and Chips”. The Spruce.

[4] Alexander, James (18 December 2009). “The unlikely origin of fish and chips”. BBC News.

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