By now, the reputation of the Fish & Chips ($15.00) at The Gage precedes it. I don't know who created the buzz, but The Gage's interpretation of the British pub staple is on the short list of ones people suggest here in Chicago (including, but not limited to, BIG & little's, Owen & Engine, and Duke of Perth). I'm a fried fish fiend, but with Lent at least 6 months away, this is my off-season. Add to that the fact that I greatly prefer small filets of battered lake fish to the gargantuan slabs of moist (or watery, depending on preparation) cod that dominates our city's fried fish scene, and it's a safe bet that you won't usually catch me ordering fried fish this time of year.
Still, I'm as susceptible as the next person when a craving strikes, and The Gage's version covers all the bases. Atlantic cod is fried in a Guinness-based batter, wrapped in parchment paper-lined newsprint, and positioned over a mound of piping hot fries. The fish was perfectly crisp on all sides, though a pre-batter application of salt would've enhanced its ocean flavor. The chips were some of the better pub-style fries I've had: strong potato flavor, crunchy, and respectably salted. A dash or two of malt vinegar only enhanced the experience. Although it's unlikely that this or any other fish and chips will cause me to forsake my lake fish true love, I'd be happy to eat it any time I get a hankering for fried fish in the downtown area.