When New Bedford’s Fish and Chips Stores Cooked Friday Dinner
I've been doing a lot of strolling down memory lane these days. Maybe that happens when you reach a certain age and begin to realize that life isn't entirely as it used to be, and you miss certain things that were once commonplace. One such thing is fish and hips. Seriously, fish and chips.
Remember when nearly everyone in New Bedford had fish and chips for dinner on Friday? It seemed that way anyway to a kid sent to stand in line to pick up the fish and chips for the family each week. Fish and chips were without question a given for Friday night, just like franks and beans with brown bread were on Saturday night.
Someone younger might not know the difference between a seafood restaurant and a fish and chips store. A seafood restaurant is generally a sit-down restaurant that offers a range of seafood options. A fish and chips store sold the meal to go. You might also get a clam or scallops plate to go to, but the primary bill of fare was fish and chips, and it was usually to travel.
Some of the stores had tables too, but much of the business was at the take-out window. Most fish and chip stores were open only Wednesday or Thursday through Saturday. The big day was Friday.
Long before online ordering, fish and chips stores took orders by telephone. You could call in to place your order at noon, and it would be ready to pick up on the way home from work on Friday evening. Don't even try calling after 3 p.m. because the phone at the fish and chips store would be off the hook.
Ordering fish and chips was often done in code. For example, you might order "three and one with a 'hog.'" That would mean three pieces of fish, one chip (order of fries), and a stuffed quahog. And the fish and chips came wrapped in old newspaper. Can you imagine being handed your dinner wrapped in an old newspaper today?
Some of the fish and chips stores I remember best include: Bill Mitchell's Fish & Chips on County and Weld Streets, Hammonds Fish & Chips on Ashley Boulevard and Central Avenue, Jerry's Fish & Chips on Nash Road, and Horta's Restaurant in the South End. They are all but memories now.
Gene's Famous Seafood on Huttleston Avenue in Fairhaven was the bomb for all fried seafood, including fish and chips. The Boat on Ashley Boulevard began as a fish and chips place but expanded its menu, and Amaral's Fish Market on Bellville Avenue in New Bedford used to offer great fish and chips back in the '70s, but I'm not sure if they still do.
Who remembers having fish and chips for dinner on Fridays? Did you prefer soft or crunchy batter? What was your favorite fish and chips store?