Off the top of my head, I can think of three meals that rocked my world as a kid: A&W’s chicken sandwich, curly fries and root beer float in a frosted mug (which remains to this day one of the untouchably great food trios), Swanson “Hungry-Man” turkey TV dinners (eaten when my parents went out and we had a babysitter), and Arthur Treacher’s fish and chips.
Arthur Treacher’s was my first exposure to fish and chips, and first exposure to malt vinegar. From the first taste, I knew: That’s a marriage made in heaven. Damn was it good. I rarely order fish and chips these days because I feel so guilty about it afterwards, but oh, do I love it, and it’s all because of Arthur Treacher’s.
I hadn’t even seen the words “Arthur Treacher’s” in over 25 years, until a few weeks ago when I was driving to Frank Pepe in Yonkers and passed Nathan’s Famous.
There it was, in the window, and on a banner:
You’re kidding me! Had Arthur Treacher’s been around all these years and I didn’t know about it? Or had the franchise been defunct and resurrected? I had no idea, but I was excited, vowing to return to Nathan’s shortly.
So here are the fish and chips revisited, some 25 years later. Would they taste as sublime as I remembered from my childhood?
Well, no, not really.
The platter comes with two pieces of fish, thick cut fries, cole slaw, hush puppies, and of course, malt vinegar. The fish, with its distinctive triangular shape and uniformly golden color, certainly looks the same as it used to.
The coating tastes pretty good upon the first few bites, but then you start to realize how much of it there is. It’s very, very thick. My first piece was about 65% coating, 35% fish, and I ended up not eating the corners because it was all coating.
And I don’t think they’re using cod anymore (did they ever?), opting for a more inexpensive fish. The second piece was better than the first, especially when drenched with a heavy dose of malt vinegar.
I’m pretty sure eating all of this took about a year off my life, and I felt gross afterwards, but it had to be done for the sake of nostalgia. I’m a Wonder Years kind of guy — I feed off of nostalgia.
So no, this platter wasn’t quite as remarkable as I’d remembered. Nevertheless, it’s comforting to know that Arthur Treacher’s is still around all these years later… still cranking out those triangular pieces of battered fish.
2290 Central Park Ave.