That was more than a decade ago but I can still vividly remember way that steam would rise from the fish as I tore into it, letting it warm me from the inside as I walked down those gloomy streets. Though context obviously matters are great deal with these types of food memories, I've spent my adult life trying to find a place that served fish and chips as satisfying as the kind you could get at any old chip shop in the U.K. And I finally found it a few months back at Gillian Fitzgerald's first fish-and-chips pop-up, Batter by the Bay
Fitzgerald's an Irish lass who's been in the city for seven years, working bar and restaurant jobs around town (she's currently part owner of Virgil's Sea Room
in the Mission and, full disclosure, a friend). Her love for fish and chips goes deep, and she's long lamented the lack of great versions in S.F. Since she worked at a small fish-and-chip shop as a teenager, she decided that the only real course of action was to make her own.
The fish checked all the boxes when I tried it a few months back. Its Speakeasy beer batter was crisp and light; the cod inside was soft and moist — and crucially, you couldn't really tell where one ended and the other began. They had fused into one beautiful bite.
She was also serving battered black pudding, which I tried more or less on a dare but found to be delicious — sweet and savory at once. Next Tuesday's pop-up will have that as a side, along with battered chicken hearts and McVicker Pickles
fried okra and bread and butter pickles. Donate $2 to Fitzgerald's charity, Concern USA
, and she'll batter up and fry your dessert, too.
Find Batter by the Bay Tuesday, Dec., 16 at Wing Wings
in the Lower Haight (5-9 p.m.).
There was one winter where fish and chips saved my life. Or at least it felt that way at the time. I was living in Edinburgh, and I'm not sure I could have endured some of those long, cold walks home in the dark afternoons, with the wind off the North Sea whistling through the narrow stone alleys, without a stop at the chippie's for some battered haddock and chips.