The Anchor Fish & Chips in Northeast Minneapolis

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

You can’t generally tell a book by its cover, but it’s damned refreshing when you actually can. The Anchor Fish & Chips represents itself as a sturdy, reliable, honest, fish and chips-focused pub doing business in Northeast, and what you’re promised is precisely what you receive. The beer menu is suitable if limited, the food menu is brief, focused, and culturally monolithic, and the interior is dark, cozy, and convivial — in short, a non-ironic, un-fusion, completely uncuted-up take on an Irish pub.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

You don’t get tartar sauce with your Fish and Chips ($8.50), something that an American might reasonably find annoying. The fish (wild Alaskan cod) is a bit bland, even when dosed with malt vinegar and hit with salt, but it’s moist and clean-tasting, covered in a golden-brown, non-greasy, crispy batter coating. Would the fish be tastier, overall, given the addition of a trendy wasabi tartar sauce or a sriracha / lime mayo? Well, perhaps. Would the intrusion of an Asia-meets-everything-else restaurant aesthetic detract from the elegance and the atmosphere of the Anchor? Most definitely.

About 80 percent of the menu involves fries (“chips” according to the Anchor). Therefore, it’s fortunate that they’re hand cut, and done correctly, with a stout crispness to the exterior and a warm-but-distinctly-potatoey interior.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Curry fries ($4.50) suffer from the same forgivable fault as the fish and chips — they’re a bit too mild, the curry a gentle mughal mixture that’s pleasingly mellow and rich but feels as though it’s missing an element — charred meat, hot chilis, something that would kick the flavor up a notch beyond the softly spoken.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

But if neither the fish and chips nor the curry fries are a spectacular culinary event — and, really, they’re both pretty good, and honest as hell — the Shepherd’s Pie ($8.50) is. Similarly unadorned, you’re not getting much more than creamy mashed potatoes atop beef, carrots, and onions. There are little clumps of extra-dense potato present in the topping, the beef is tender and mouthwatering, and the herb / onion kick to the whole dish is brilliantly calibrated. Complicated, no. A slam dunk, yes.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

And if you’re really looking to stop the movement in your arteries, a particularly delicious method is the Helicopter Burger ($10), served with Irish cheddar, rashers (strips of pork that are damn near bacon but a bit less crunchy and more ham-like), and a tender fried egg. The smokey kick of the rashers is pronounced but not overwhelming, and the whole thing is deftly balanced. The grass-fed beef is moist and flavorful without being greasy, and even the bun represents an attention to detail and quality that is reflective of the establishment as a whole.

Although newly opened and not yet serving breakfast (it begins this coming weekend), the Anchor feels fully developed — it’s a clear concept with a competent, even passionate execution. Purists will appreciate its honesty and clarity, and everyone else will appreciate the fact that it puts large portions of damn good food on the plate for reasonable prices.

BEST BET: The Shepherd’s Pie is a simple, classic, well-executed rendition of a classic pub dish, and justifies the visit by itself.

The Anchor Fish & Chips
Traditional pub grub in Northeast Minneapolis
302 13th Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
612.676.1300
OWNERS: Jenny Crouser, Kathryn Hayes, and Luke Kyle
HOURS:
Tue-Sun 4pm-1am
Breakfast
Sat-Sun 10-2pm
Closed Mondays
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes (but “all food items come into contact with meat products”) / No
RESERVATIONS: No
BAR: Beer
ENTREE RANGE: $6.50-10

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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14 Comments

  1. thatgrrl 10/05/2009 Reply

    Just one crucial note- the owners are IRISH! Not English, not British. Irish.

  2. Shogunmoom 10/05/2009 Reply

    Nice to see that the author of this article couldn’t take 5 minutes to read the website and learn that the owners (well two of the three) are Irish.

    Wasabi Tarter Sauce? What is this, 2002? Lime Sriricha Mayo? Really? What does absolutly everything need to be east-meats-west? If you want that, go to Ginger Hop. Leave the flowery language and inane speculation to the writer over at the City Pages. Just because Dara can make it work, doesn’t mean you can (or the new reviewer at the city pages can.)

    The fish is outstanding at the Anchor! Moist, perfectly cooked, simple and unadorned, with a fantastic traditional batter. The Pasties are also to die for!

    The prices are also very nice. Shepherd’s pie is huge, and is only $8.50.

    -shogunmoon

  3. how did you get malt vinegar? They prefer white vinegar there, seems to be the Irish thing…

  4. shogunmoom, i think you missed the tongue-in-cheek intent of the comments you’re referencing. it’s pretty obvious he doesn’t want the changes he (jokingly) suggested.

  5. rational54 10/05/2009 Reply

    I havent been to The Anchor but if there ever was a cardinal sin it would be to identify someone who is Irish as English/British. Was just in Ireland about a year ago and marvel at how the name of Oliver Cromwell still is mentioned in such deep hatred as if the guy was just recently in town raping and pillaging and storing his horses in the Catholic churches…

    on the other hand i think the writer was not suggesting the use of Asian fusion tartar sauces in this setting. And fish and chips is generally considered a British item, not that the Hibernians don’t also have their own twist on it.

    any place that serves fresh tasting fried fish, hand cut fresh potato fries and good beer with the result in a full belly for under $15 is God’s own in my book. (Sea Salt isnt open in winter so the Anchor deserves a visit)

  6. Emily Nystrom 10/05/2009 Reply

    Thatgrrl, thank you for your correction! I’ve made updates accordingly.

  7. Well, technically the Irish are British, according to their citizenship and passports – as are the Scottish and Welsh.

  8. Shogunmoon 10/05/2009 Reply

    “You don’t get tartar sauce with your Fish and Chips ($8.50), something that an American might reasonably find annoying.”

    Reasonably find annoying? heh. Same sort of American that wants ketchup on a Chicago dog.

    Good write up over all, and with the edits maybe the “joke” is more apparent. They are dead on about that shepherds pie though. Yum!

  9. KTFoley 10/05/2009 Reply

    James, did you in fact get malt vinegar? That would truly put you in the minority among folks who tried the place last week.

  10. KTFoley 10/05/2009 Reply

    Sharyn, are you generalizing the northern Ulster counties’ “technicality” to the whole isle? England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all issue the same British passport. The Republic of Ireland still maintains Irish citizenship, Irish passports and Irish self-rule.

  11. Totally not the point of the article, but Northern Irish are not British. They are UK citizens, but “British” refers to inhabitants of Great Britain, including the English, Welsh, and Scots.
    ROI citizens are politically connected in no way to the UK.

  12. I’m sorry, but The Anchor is not on par with Sea Salt. Lovely place, but it’s not a seafood place. Also worth mentioning is it is NOT a vegetarian, or even pesca-vegetarian friendly joint. Everything, including the fries, is fried in Beef Tallow. No joke!

  13. Food was just average, the service was okay but the LOUD MUSIC was so bad you could not even talk. There was only about a dozen people in the place so I don’t know who they were entertaining. Asked if it could be turned down and they made it louder and changed the station to something even more annoying. Won’t be back.

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