New fish & chip shop in Bennington, VT
For those of you from the area, it's on North Street, two doors down from the head shop and the hydroponic supply store. It opened a few weeks ago and we tried it for the first time last night. The menu consists of fish and chips, shrimp/scallops and chips, bangers and mash, meat pies, and english sausages in puff pastry. Prices are pretty reasonable: A small order of fish and chips is $7.75 and a large is $10. We got a large fish and chip and a steak and onion pie ($5.50) and split them--plenty of food for two. The fish was fresh and flaky and the batter crust was shatteringly crunchy and not at all doughy or thick like some batter crust can be. And the chips were good and thick. The crust on the meat pie was flaky and tender and there were nice chunks of steak in a tasty but not gloppy brown gravy. The pie was the perfect lunch size--not too big--but I thought just right for the $5.50 price. They also have a couple of shelves of British foodstuffs, like cans of spotted dick and loads of British candies, including Curly Wurlys, which, if you all are old enough to remember, they are the British version of Cadbury's long defunct Marathon bar.
We got there early (5:30pm) and by the time we left, the place was packed. There's about 10 small tables and the wait for the food was a bit long (about 20 minutes) but all steaming fresh. It's owned by a couple and they were handling everything themselves, so I'm sure once they get some help and a good routine down, the wait will shorten. From what I've heard from others, they are always busy, which is a great thing for Bennington.
Hours are: Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon 11:30 am to 8pm.
Not exactly a replacement for Vern's, but definitely a worthy addition to town. I really hope they do well, we need a place like this here.
http://www.lilbritain.com/ website coming soon.
Lil Britain... We were wandering around Bennington today looking at the Seward Johnson statues and stumbled across Lil Britain. We assumed it was just another American attempt at making basic British fare, but found that it is, indeed, a real British chap frying the fish... and chips. I'm a Brit, by the way. So, I was greeted with a familiar accent (Kevin, the joint proprietor is from Stoke, in an area of England also known at the Potteries, historically famous for making, you guessed it, pottery).
His wife, he told me, is also British but has been in the States for a few more that the ten years he has been here. We had a brief chat (he was, after all, busy frying fish and chips) and found (big surprise) that we have a passion for football (the game in which one kicks a ball with one's feet, rather than running with it in one's hands), and his team, Stoke, are playing my team, Everton, tomorrow (Sunday 14th Sept 2008).
What about the food... Well, it was good. The fish was flakey, tasted of fish and the batter was golden and crunchy (but not overly crispy... it was just right). The chips were of the home-made variety, except not as crispy as my mum used to make. I have no complaints though. They were fried perfectly, and thoroughly cooked. There's nothing worse than undercooked potatoes of any style. I was given a rather an admonishing look for having coleslaw as a side dish, rather than a 'cocktail sauce' or roll and butter, but I've never had a cocktail sauce with fish n' chips (there are many regional variations in England where fish and chips are concerned), I didn't want a roll just then and my partner (an American) was sharing my 'supper' so I went with something that was a comfort food for her. I should have had a cup of "hot' tea (that is the way it is described on their menu board) as tea just seems to go very well with fish and chips. It's an odd mix. A sip of tea, a few chips, a mouthful of fish and batter, another sip of tea... It's difficult to describe, but it is is perfect accompaniment to the dish. I wish we had both been hungry as then we could have sampled something else rather than sharing one dish. Although I gave up eating meat some years ago, I do, however, have the occasional plate of bangers and mash if we stop at an 'Irish' pub. I think I would quite like to try Lil Britain's steak and kidney pies, and I hope his sausage rolls are better than the fast-food offerings in the UK. I'm sure they are.
The actual eating area is quite Spartan, but most fish an chip shops in the UK (those where you can eat or take away) are quite basic. We call them 'caffs' (cafés), and they would usually consist of lino(leum) floors, tiled walls, a fair amount of stainless steel and Formica counter tops. There would also be a large jar of pickled eggs sitting on the counter next to the till (register). You would not find the array of British staples that sit on stainless steel shelving in Lil Britain in a UK establishment. In this instance I think they are there to enhance the "Britishness" of Kevin's and his wife's eatery. I feel so guilty now having not introduced myself, of bothered to discover his wife's name.
I will definitely eat at Lil Britain again, though I am an infrequent visitor to the area (I'm over the 'mountain' in Brattleboro). The food is good. The price is about right for the quality of food provided. It's served on paper plates, by the way, and you collect your food from the counter. There is no table service. One does the MacD thing on departure too... There is a trash can on the way out. We didn't leave a tip because of this (no table service as such), although I felt guilty about this also.
I wish them well and hope that the town supports their efforts. I will bet if the word gets around that you can stop off for a bag of chips as a snack meal (I'm not sure if you can, but it could be a little extra business for them), then they may enjoy a regular trade in the way that British F&C shops do business. Regular and small often beats infrequent and large.
I don't remember Curly Wurly ever being called Marathon, though I have found an online article stating the same.
I can only remember Marathon being what is now called a Snickers bar.
Here's a link to confirm this:
Went to Lil Britain over the weekend and it was excellent. Great sausage rolls (with HP sauce) and pies. They had an issue with getting the right potatoes from their distributor, but that should be cleared up this week...although I still thought the chips were nice.
I'm so glad you posted about this! I've driven by it a few times and wondered if it would be any good but haven't tried it yet (I'm still crushing on the fabulous sandwiches and salads at Izabella's).
I'll have to make a Sunday trip with my beau Bruno. His family is all from England and he went to school there, so it would probably be a bit nostalgic for him. Do they serve the fish and chips in newspaper? That would really make his day.