The British Chippy–a carved out fish and chip shop located off South Park Ave. in Buffalo NY. Taking route 5 from the south towns, I assumed that “off South Park” meant right off South Park. Not the case. I got off at Tift, thinking it was easier and turned onto South Park. Mind you, I have now been here twice and each time drove right past this place. It is located in what looks to be an abandoned warehouse; across the street is vacant property and some old industrial work sites. Hoping for the best, I walked inside to find that it was no bigger than my first apartment right out of high school (a studio by the way). There is no heat to speak of, and it was 10 degrees outside that day, and as there is no way to escape the constant opening of the front door, there is no way to escape the whip lash of cold air hitting you in the face.
This aside, I took in the glass cased counters, chalk board and foe British pictures plastered to the walls. The red telephone booth wallpaper was quaint, and I love that all of their food items are written in chalk. However, the only authentic British look are the actual food items listed. Everything else right down to the telephone booth is wallpaper pictures. They offer tea or hot coffee ($2.00, rather cheap) and an array of British foods from battered Cod and Fish and Chips to Yorkshire Fish Cake or Sausage Roll. The items are traditional and they tout making the food in just that way….traditional. What hit my research nerve and got me digging for more information is their claim that British Fish and Chips are healthier than Fish Fry’s. Hmmmm……ok, I’ll bite. Right on their website they state that Fish and Chips has more vitamin C than an orange, it has fewer calories than other “popular take-aways,” and are only 630 calories. Well, I had to find out if this is true. According to the British Nutrition Foundation, a typical fish and chips plate has 840 calories–not 630. It is high in saturated fat and salt/sodium. And, while the fish itself does provide vitamin C, B12, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, the batter around the fish is not healthy (although I will concede it is healthier than a typical American fish fry). Note also that the chips are not very healthy. However, with this I did find that the oils used to batter the fish contain more omega-3 and 6’s than other olive oils. Depending on the oil used, omega-6 can cause artery inflammation. Mono-unsaturated fats and omega-3’s are the safest for heart health. Most Chippie experts use either baking soda or carbonated water or beer as a rising agent to obtain that light, airy, an crispness that British fish and chips is known for. Doing this keeps the batter from becoming dense and dry (more commonly known as an American Fish Fry). Potato flour is used by some, and while starchy, can provide a less oily and healthier bite. Needless to say, everything in the British Chippy is authentic, British and expertly cooked as though it was right off the boat. My fish and chips ($12.00) came wrapped in white tissue (instead of newspaper), salt and vinegar was provided, and the fish (Cod) was perfectly cooked, juicy and flakey, with a thin veil of batter wrapped around it. Upon asking my host if the staff are provided training, he stated, “oh yes, everyone undergoes British frying training to get our fish and chips right.” I was pleasantly surprised to hear this fact. So my first foray into the fatty fug of the British Chippy has had a mixed reception. Both the fish sandwich and fish and chips were very good, but the atmosphere is severely lacking, and while tasty (arguably tastier than a fish fry), I wouldn’t tout that is a “healthy” option compared to–well anything else really. All in all, an experience worth trying, but I caution against it for those with heart disease, gallbladder disease, IBS, lactose intolerance or a gluten intolerance.