Those readers who enjoy British sitcoms, and particularly the Brits among them, will be aware that when a family comes home tired and hungry, they will not order a pizza but are more likely to send someone to bring home a large portion of fish `n chips. Until the 1970s, this food was likely to be wrapped in newspaper, and there are those who say the taste has never been the same since then.
At the Fish `n Chips restaurant on Namal Street in Haifa, however, if one does not want to sit there and eat, the piping hot portions will be packed in clean polystyrene boxes, complete with little pots of tartar sauce, ketchup, napkins and cutlery.
I had arranged to visit the restaurant with my companion while doing some downtown errands on this cold and first rainy day of the season. Thus while the outside tables did not tempt us, we sat inside in this functional, no-frills but spotlessly clean eatery.
While the fryer was sizzling with the fish and chips cooked fresh for every customer, we sat with Danny Greenberg, the owner. Originally a Haifaite, he now lives in Atlit but chose to open his business on Namal Street, which has been drastically gentrified over the last couple of years. Previously he owned a kosher steakhouse in Neveh Sha’anan, a primarily modern Orthodox community, but two months ago he was tempted by the challenge of providing cheap and easy food to the new population of students who study at the satellite campus of the University of Haifa in this downtown location. This once unsavory red-light district next to the port has taken on a new life since the municipality cleaned it up, repaved and landscaped the street and provided green space and seating. The old deserted warehouses and the rabbit warren that was once the Income Tax headquarters have been converted into student dorms. This has attracted a young population; consequently, many pubs and restaurants have been opened there. During the summer and holiday times, market stalls and street musicians liven up the area.
“The students have a break at lunchtime and finish late in the afternoon, so we keep open from 9 a.m. to 6 or 7 p.m. to cater to these customers,” says Greenberg. But he is also attracting tourists who come off the cruise ships at the nearby port entrance.
“Many of those visiting Israel want kosher food, and there are not many kosher eateries in Haifa, particularly in this area,” he says.
The restaurant also delivers within the downtown area but will prepare fresh food for immediate take-away if one calls beforehand.
In addition to the fish `n chips menu, there is a felafel bar and a large variety of salads and fresh juices.
“We offer authentic Israeli food together with authentic British,” Greenberg quips.
The portions are generous; so much so, that it was difficult to finish the basketful of hot fish and nice chunky chips, which were all very crisp and hot and well drained of oil.
“That is our aim,” says Greenberg. “To provide such good portions that customers are really full at the end of the meal.”
In fact, the fish is more familiar to Jewish customers than the traditional English fish eater, for it is fried with a thin coating, unlike the thick and floury batter found in British chippies.
A regular portion of fish `n chips costs NIS 29.90. Chips can be ordered separately at NIS 20 for a large portion and NIS 15 for a small one. The individual salads are sold at NIS 14 for a large portion and NIS 8 for small. And for those wanting to taste authentic healthy Israeli food that never goes out of fashion, a whole pita with felafel and salad costs NIS 15, and NIS 9 for a half portion.
With the “rocket building,” the main government office complex, the law courts and the Carmelit underground only a few minutes’ walk away, this simple restaurant is a good place to rest one`s feet. Or if one has spent a tiresome morning at a government office and has no energy to cook dinner, one can take home a treat for the family.
Fish `n Chips
30 Namal Street, Haifa (across Ha’atzmaut St. from the Carmelit terminal)
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