There's a lot of food I miss from living in Wisconsin; cheese curds (and they have to be fresh), real brats with pretzel buns, a Culver's Butter Burger and probably most importantly, a Friday night fish fry.
For those of you not from the midwest, the Friday night fish fry is pretty sacred in Wisconsin. While it has its roots in the Catholic church communities rules for eating meat during Lent, you don't have to be a devout churchgoer to be a fan. The fish fry takes various forms all over the country, but Wisconsin is probably the best known location for them. You can read more about the history and regional differences over on Wikipedia.
Sadly, New York doesn't really have a good old fashioned Wisconsin style fish fry to be found. However, I have found the next best thing: A Salt & Battery down in Greenwich Village. A Salt & Battery is an English fish & chips restaurant. They pretty much just serve fish & chips and some other sides and they do an amazing job. The owners of the place also own Tea & Sympathy next door. I haven't had the chance to go there yet, but it's on my list. They also operate a little shop that sells English goodies if you happen to be an ex-pat or just like digestives.
So, anyway...on to the fish!
I visited the restaurant on a particularly gross and rainy Saturday afternoon, and this meal was absolutely what I needed. The best part is that they have several fish options to choose from. Everything is cooked to order, no heat lamp fish here. It took about 6 minutes for me to get a giant basket of piping hot fish and chips in front of me. The restaurant is very small, with mostly a kitchen, the counter to order and a small amount of seating. It can be packed depending on the time of day, so if you want a seat, pick an off-time.
Fish comes in two sizes; regular and large. I'm a big guy, but I got the regular order as it was lunch. The portion was more than enough for me. I had a big basket of delicious flakey and tender fish. The breading was crispy and crunched under my teeth while being light enough to not overpower the fish. I think that sometimes places try to cover up sub-par fish by coating it with so much breading that you can't even taste the fish, just breading and oil. This is not the case at A Salt & Battery. If you're a fan of tartar sauce, you won't be disappointed with their homemade version. If you don't like tartar sauce, you've probably only had the kind from the grocery store in the plastic bottle (mostly mayo and relish). This is the time to give it another try. It is amazing.
The chips (fries) are no frills. They are simply fried potato slices and that's all they need to be. A nice splash of malt vinegar and you have the perfect accompaniment to the fish.
The price is fair considering they have a very high quality fish. The larger portion can get a little expensive if you get chips and a drink, so I recommend this as a perfect lunch spot.
Nothing will replace my Wisconsin fish fry, but this place is a darn good substitute.
Sum it up
What I got: Regular order of fried pollock, chips and a can of ginger ale
What I paid: $15.49
What I thought: An English classic that took me back to a Wisconsin tradition.