Sunday, April 20, 2008

My Quest For Fish and Chips

Every once in a while I get a craving for some good down home Fish and Chips.

Growing up, the place to go was Hutch's on the beach strip. It was a dive - still had the original 50's decor - complete with Juke box. The place had extra nostalgia for our family - my Mom grew up spending summers at Hamilton Beach. My parents ate at Hutch's 'back in the day' when they were dating. You could eat inside - but we never did. In the winter we ate in the car. In the summer we preferred to grab a picnic table outside. Sure you had to fend off the seagulls- but it was worth it to sit there and people watch! The most interesting people parade by at Van Wagner's Beach. After eating you could join the fun and walk for miles along the boardwalk.

Yup, those were the days!

I never expected to recreate the mystique of Hutch's here in San Diego - but I was pleasantly surprised to find D.B. Hackers on the 101 in Encinitas. A "Hole In The Wall" restaurant with absolutely amazing fish and chips. Whenever, I was feeling a little nostalgic or felt a craving for fish and chips -- I would be off to Encinitas. I liked to get my order to go and then head around the corner and park at the Moonlight Beach. Nothing like sitting in the car, looking out and listening to the waves roll in while I ate.

So imagine my chagrin that fateful day. It was a Sunday afternoon and I had set out in earnest on my ritual fish and chip trip When I pulled up in front of Encinitas Surfboards - I instantly knew something was wrong. Gone was my dive Fish and Chip Shop - it has been replaced by some boutiquey dining establishment. Sigh.

It has been several l-o-n-g dry years without any fish and chips. I have tried the odd place here and there - but no luck!

A few weeks ago, in desperation, I started asking everyone I knew for recommendations. I took the suggestions and did a little internet research (Yelp is my friend!). I finally decided I had a worthy candidate in Harbor Fish Cafe in Carlsbad.

Today was the day. I woke up itching for an adventure and craving fish and chips. Mid afternoon I grabbed the GPS, typed in the address, hopped in the car and was off!

I wasn't disappointed. My destination was a building that was one half surf shop, one half dive fish and chip shop. The outside seating is dilapidated wooden benches with a view of the park and the ocean. All that and amazing fish and chip to boot!

Mission Accomplished!

As ate and watched the cyclists go by - I started wishing I had thrown my bike in the back of the CRV. I have rode through Carlsbad a number of times - but I have never stopped to walk the sea wall. Today would be the day. A bright and sunny afternoon with a lovely cool breeze coming in off the ocean - Perfection.

So, there we have it. The beginning of a new Fish and Chip ritual!

Fish on the sea wall

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