Welcome to this week’s installment of Battle of the Dishes, in which we weigh the merits of the fish ‘n’ chips served by two Williamsburg eateries close to the Graham Avenue L stop. In one corner stands Sel de Mer, the almost two-year-old seafood restaurant beloved for its fish sliders and oil paintings of crusty old mariners. In the other stands Goods, the chrome trailer that the 3rd Ward folks opened in mid-June. Because of their proximity, and because we wanted an excuse to eat fish ‘n’ chips two days in a row, we wondered which of these relative newcomers offered the better interpretation of the timeless classic.
At Sel de Mer, the fish ‘n’ chips cost $15. Costly, perhaps, but the initial investment yields substantial returns. Both fish and chips are served in extremely generous portions, alongside lemon wedges, containers of tartar sauce and ketchup, and a big bottle of malt vinegar. The fish’s beer-battered, deep-golden crust is thick, crunchy, and tastes of weight gain and happiness.
It shelters meat moist and flaky enough to make even the most hardened eco-conservationist weep, its gentle sweetness contrasting nicely with the salty crust. The chips are a husky blond-brown, thick, and well-salted. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, bearing evidence of their original skins, these are fries done to textbook perfection. The tartar sauce seems to contain little bits of pickle, which is lovely, and the lemons and malt vinegar lend the whole affair an invigorating snap.
At Goods, the fish ‘n’ chips cost $9.50. While the portion isn’t quite as big as Sel de Mer’s, it’s still of respectable gutbomb proportions, and comes with a lemon slice, tartar sauce, and ketchup. The fish comes in three chunks and is also beer-battered, in this case in Brooklyn Lager. Its crust isn’t as robust as Sel de Mer’s, but it’s certainly deliciously salty, and makes an excellent partner to the fish itself, which is, like its competitor, flaky, moist, and subtly sweet.
The chips have an appealing orange hue, are crusted with little bits of batter, and are curly. Few things are more enjoyable to eat than a fry shaped like a Slinky, particularly if it’s seasoned well and straddles the crispy-chewy divide. Goods’ chips are actually far more addictive than the fish itself, and there’s certainly a case to be made for ordering a box of them on their own.
Both Goods and Sel de Mer were able and worthy competitors, but Sel de Mer’s fish is the one we’re still daydreaming about. But while the victory goes to Sel de Mer, anyone seeking a daytime fix should head to Goods, which, unlike Sel de Mer, is open for lunch. Both places will satisfy a craving, to say nothing of the day’s caloric requirements.
Sel de Mer
374 Graham Avenue, Williamsburg
Corner of Lorimer Street and Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 16, 2010