Henri checks out the cod pieces at King’s Catch
King’s Catch Fish & Chips2000 Notre Dame Blvd.
Chico, CA 95928
Henri has always had a rather strained relationship with England, not only because of the pride he takes in his Franco heritage but also in his inability to forgive a country that gave the world both Cromwell and mushy peas. Admittedly, France had its own share of monarchs who put their welfare before that of their constituents, but for every Le Roi Soleil, there’s a bouillabaisse, a coq au vin, or any number of exquisite Bordeaux. For a Henry VIII, you have toad-in-the-hole, spotted Dick and black tea with milk.
Thus, it was with more than a little trepidation that Henri embarked last week, along with his dear sister Colette, on a trip to King’s Catch Fish & Chips, a trepidation significantly compounded by the huge mural of London covering the restaurant’s largest wall.
But my anxiety was soon dispelled, in large part by the friendliness and enthusiasm of the woman behind the counter. I glanced over the menu board, then asked for a recommendation, acknowledging that it was my first visit. She beamed, then extolled the virtues of the prawns, which she said were her favorite, and pointed out that all the fish was dipped in batter on-site and with each order.
Fish-and-chips options range from one piece ($4.99) to the King’s Catch (two pieces of cod, two calamari, two prawns and two scallops for $12.99). Other combination plates include cod and prawns, scallops, or calamari ($8.99). The prawns (seven) and chips are $9.99. All meals include a side of coleslaw. The menu also includes a handful of appetizers ($5.29-$7.99), including calamari strips, clam chowder (Fridays only) and popcorn shrimp, as well fish and chicken sandwiches ($6.99) and a seafood Caesar salad ($7.99). The kids’ menu includes chicken and chips ($4.49) and popcorn shrimp and chips ($4.99).
I ordered the two-piece fish and chips ($5.99), and Colette went with the bay-shrimp salad ($6.99). With no wine available, we both opted for ice water instead of soft drinks, then found a table where we tried to brainstorm English contributions to American culture. Colette suggested Hamlet and Eddie Izzard. I added Noel Coward, Freddy Mercury and gin.
We hadn’t been seated five minutes before our waitress brought our lunches. Sacre bleu! The pieces of fish were nearly the size of my new Tommy Bahama slippers, and piping hot. I nibbled on the chips—fresh and crispy—while I waited for the fish to cool, then dipped a piece of cod in tartar sauce and bit in. Flakey, tender, delicious—not a bit oily, as deep-fried fish often is. I finished it without putting it down, then doused the second with malt vinegar. Even better. I sat back stuffed and delighted, unable to finish my last bite of fish.
Colette was not so fortunate. Her salad was rather plain: lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and though it included a decent number of bay shrimp, it certainly lacked the zing of the fish and chips. Even the dressing didn’t spice it up much. She eyed my last bite of fish, then reached over.
“I don’t know what I was thinking,” she said. “It’s a fish-and-chips place.” She popped it in her mouth. “Wow! You definitely made the better call.”
”Naturellement,” I replied. “You would expect anything less?”
She rolled her eyes, then scratched her cheek with her middle finger, bending the others down indecorously.
We returned a couple of days later. Colette went with the two-piece fish and chips, and I had the prawns, which lived up to their promise—and again turned out to be the more prudent call: Colette could eat only one of her pieces of cod, so I traded her a prawn for a piece of fish. This time we both left happy.