Sounds like we need to get Chad over here to teach us limeys how to do it. Fish'n'chips seem to be a forgotten art. Hardly anywhere can we get them better than cr*p, in my experience.
Fergus (Oxford, UK)
That reminded me, Chad's wife, Francis, told us that they had a Briton visiting the California coast who happened to eat at their place and said that he'd "been to a lot of fish and chips eateries and Chad's was the best". She said, coming from a Brit, it was very high praise.
My point was that, nowadays, praise from a Brit is no praise at all :)
The best chips I've ever had are ones I cooked myself (of course!). The recipe was from Heston Blumenthal's TV show "In Search of Perfection" and was a fantastically protracted 3 cooking-stage process:
1. Peel & cut Maris Pipers. Par-boil in water until surface just starts to break up.
2. Lay chips on a cooling rack in a single layer and place in fridge for at least 30 mins.
3. Cook in oil (I used groundnut) at medium temp until just starting to crisp.
4. Repeat cooling stage in fridge (30 mins).
5. Cook in hot oil to brown.
If you like chips, I recommend you give it a go. Not suitable for a quick fry up after work - probably the best part of 2 hours elapsed time! However, you can do everything up to and including stage 4 in advance.
(In case you don't know, Heston Blumenthal's "Fat Duck" restaurant was voted "Best Restaurant in the World" a while back. Famous for weird stuff like snail porridge.)
A two stage cooking method for potatoes is pretty common, but this is the first I've heard of a three stage fry. I'll have to try it the next time I decide to fry up some French fries (as well call them over here in California)
NO NO NO. Infidel! That recipe was for CHIPS. They should be around 1in thick. A medium spud cut into wedges is a good start.
In the U.S., "french fries" doesn't always mean shoestring fries (like the ones that Chad's serves). They can come thick cut, in wedges, crosscut, or even curly. I myself prefer the thick cut fries where they've been fried to crispiness with a fluffy steaming inside. Around hear, "chips" usually means potato crisps (thin ~1mm slices that have been fired until completely crispy). But the dish "fish and chips" has retained it's name (although I have encounter a few cheap places that actually serve them with a handful of Ruffles potato chips).
If you get a chance read the entire Heston Blumenthal Perfection book. He cooks from an engineering perspective. Some of the dishes are a little to complicated to make at home, but all in all it's one of the most interesting cook books I've ever read.
I'm afraid Rolf's seems to have closed. By the way, Willets' other claim to fame is that it is the resting place of Seabiscuit.
Please, for the sake of sanity, proofread the first paragraph and fix that terrifying first sentence.
(There's similar problems in the 4th and 5th paragraphs, but at least they aren't displaying on the front page.)
Oh, man. I just read that sentence and it was unbelievable! How was it possible to even craft a sentence like that?!? I rewrote it and updated the posting. I wrote the article in a few bursts - first writing down as many notes about what happened (how we found the place), some info on how the scallops tasted, and then fleshed out the rest. It usually takes me a week to write something, but this time I did it in one day - apparently without proofreading (I even remember making the decision not to read it out loud - if I don't read it out, then I tend to read things in skimming mode, especially if they words are ones that I wrote). That first sentence was the worst of the bunch (no doubt a product of several attempts at the sentence getting fused together in an unholy manner), and there are still several that don't read as well as I would hope.
Over all, I'm not entirely pleased with how this article came out... guess I shouldn't rush things in the future. Anyway, even if you're not convinced by the article, take my word for it, if you find yourself within 1 hour driving time of Willits, make a side trip over there and order the fried fish and scallops at Chad's.
I also like fish and chips, very much. As my home is in Sonoma County, I will follow the lead to Chad's Fish and Chips in Willits, perhaps over the upcoming Xmas holidays.
BTW, I came across your site while searching for a Tiramisu recipe. Fantastic! I am a telecommunications engineer, and really appreciate the fusion of cooking artistry with engineering logic and precision.
I live in Willits, know the people who own the restaurant (nice folks) and never really thought much of the food. Of course I've never had FishnChips from anywhere else before.
Maybe I need to go try some bad stuff to appreciate what I already have here?
It's good that people know the good sides of Willits, most know it for other things...
Sounds like somewhere to visit if I'm ever on the other side of the world :) ... agree on the somewhat declining state of the traditional chippy - it came to something recently when taking F&C as the somewhat default choice for lunch in a chain pub of all places and finding the result to be amongst the best I'd had in years (description would be reminiscent of your article - it was an unexpected thing of beauty, for all of £3.50 including a beer), second only to painstakingly homemade ones (by which I mean made by my dad, as I lack the necessary kitchen equipment). Rather than the rather soggy, greasy efforts that the local takeaways seem to offer, where you can feel your face breaking out and intestines shutting down simultaneously before you're even halfway done.
In america, no, california of all places! :)
BTW, when you say fries come in all sizes.... the thick cut ones, would they be, e.g. "Steak house fries", as I've seen bags of frozen extra-large (oven) chips being sold in the local supermarkets? I imagine there must be various terms for them after all, just as we have crinkly chips and the like :)
....this captcha thing is getting me down btw, starting to wonder if i'm going crazy and forgetting how to count / the alphabet. 4SETF6 = 5TFSG7, right? It says no. 2IYIZR = 3JZJAS?
Different companies and different regions use different names for thick cut fries. Steakhouse fries definitely makes me think that they are thick.
4SETF6 => 5TFUG7
2IYIZR does go to 3JZJAS as you say.
If you make an account, you don't have to use the CAPTCHA again after registration.
Well, I finally made it to Chad's Fish & Chips in Willits to try their Icelandic Cod. I agree Michael that it was really tasty and that the fish was cooked perfectly. The butterflied prawns were something that really impressed me because there was not a lot of batter, but plenty of prawn. Chad's wife, Francis, takes great pride in her homemade clam chowder and her homemade condiments. I have to admit that her tartar sauce is the best I have ever had. I am not sure if I enjoyed the seafood the most or whether it was getting acquainted with this warm and friendly couple. I went in just before closing on a Saturday night and they had probably cleaned up the kitchen and were ready to go home for the night, but they were more than happy to fix us a couple of meals. Thank you, Michael, for mentioning the place, otherwise, I may have continued to pass by there without noticing the place.
I recently had my second visit to Chad's Fish & Chips in Willits. I live in Fort Bragg so it is only an hour's drive for me, plus I drive through Willits whenever I go out of town. The last time I ate there, I had his seafood basket which consisted of the Icelandic cod, prawns, scallops and coleslaw. The seafood was excellent, as were the condiments. This time, I had the fishwich sandwich with fries. The batter on the cod was unbelievably crunchy while leaving the fish very moist! The fries were the precut krinkle fries, but I didn't stop by there to eat the fries anyway! Thank you, Michael, for mentioning it on your website, or I may have continued to drive right past the place, as I have done for years. Fort Bragg has many terrific restaurants at which you can get great seafood, but Chad's is the only restaurant that I know of in the the area that serves the Icelandic cod and sometimes it is good to try something different. By the way, if you mention this website, you are certain to get a visit at your table by Chad himself.
I am a little taken back by the statement that icelandic fish was used because halibut etc was muddy tasting. Obviously that restaurant has not samples the excellent halibut that come from Alaska. On the sme ocean..........
Try it you'll love it.. It's delicious. Buy American fool.
I have had incredible halibut while in Alaska, but I have also had quite a lot of so-so tasting halibut outside of Alaska. I keep ordering it, hoping it'll be good (so I don't have to consider the expensive trip up to Anchorage every time I have a craving for halibut) but I have yet to find a restaurant that has served me halibut of the same quality I've had in Seward and Anchorage.
Can't wait to try Chad's Fish and Chips. In Shelter Cove (turn west at Garberville) the cafe/general store does a pretty good job of them, and was recommended in Foghorn's coastal Calif. guide, but I expect Chad's will be the best.
Say it ain't so about Rolf's. It was awesome, and always a destination on North Coast trips.
I'm starving after read all that. Best fish and chips this side of Chads - and Harry Ramsden's of course - is at Smiles in Beaconsfield. Oh, they have a shop in Bourne End too. We have plenty of takeaways that do fish n chips in High Wycombe but always hop on to the M40 for a couple of junctions to go to Smiles. Well run, variety of fish but cod and haddock the favourites with me and the missus. And no, I don't work for them! So if you are visiting South Buckinghamshire in the UK, try them out.
Cool to read your article, mate. I actually grew up in Willits, and my father was responsible for supplying Chad's with all their kitchen equipment and food from when they opened until my father stopped working.
Growing up there, I always thought they made excellent fish 'n chips, but it wasn't until I got out and started sampling elsewhere that I realized how truly good a lot of the local spots were back home. Willits is kind of unique and fortunate in that a lot of the local eateries are just sublime: if you like Italian or Mexican, I could not say enough nice things about Mario's on 101 just north of Willits and both El Mexicano and Taqueria Bravo right across from each other in downtown. But hey, I could go on for paragraphs about the great restaurants throughout Mendocino county.
Anyway, all that aside, thanks for writing the article, man. Made me homesick.
I am so glad there is an article about this place because my husband and I loved it. We were heading back from a 4 hour drive and were hungry but nothing sounded good. We were thinking we can get Burger King or Taco Bell anywhere so let's try something different. That's when we came across this place and boy were we glad we stopped. The quality of the food is amazing and the customer service is grade A....We were talking about making that a stop whenever were in that neck of the woods...thanks again for a great lunch
Rach from the Bay Area, CA
Chad's was a happy discovery for more than one reason. First time I stopped it was the best fish & chips ever. Second time I discovered that Chad knew and had worked with my father (now deceased) and told me some wonderful things about him I had not known. Stopped again last week and its still the best eats with the friendliest owner ever!
I hope to try the fish&chips here, though (being 85 years old), it's unlikely that I'll again be travelling up there from the Los Angeles area, and probably the best I can do will be to bring the place to the attention of Dian Crayne, who lives near there. I note that my first visit to the UK (about 13 years ago) left me marvelling that I could order, at any reasonably-good fish-and-chips place, a selection of three or four different kinds of fish that actually tasted, delightfully, like three or four different kinds of fish.
I Also note that the last time I was in the Robin Hood Pub on Burbank Blvd. in Burbank, CA their fish-and-chips (Icelandic cod, I think) had Absolutely The Best Crust I Have Ever Consumed In My Whole Life. From an Engineering standpoint -- contents & conditions -- I found it about as close as it's possible to get to Perfection. (The batter had Flavour, and Crispness, but so little oil that I recommended it to my cardiologist.)
As anyone got any photos of Chad.
Can anyone tell me if chads fish and chips is still open, Im planning on visiting this summer.
try calling (707) 456-9402
it may be, still there but under new management.
one of the joys of the internet, items with no dates....
I gotta tell you, ever since we became neighbors with Chad a few years ago, he has talked about this article many times. I can't tell you how proud he is of the words your wrote. Unfortunately, he closed his shop few years back, but man, he still makes one mean Fish and Chips!
I'm sad that Chad closed his Fish and Chips shop a few years back, but happy we made an impact on each other's lives. Tell Chad that I still remember him fondly even though we only met twice. If he's interested and has a photo he'd like to share, I'd be happy to add it to the article!
I'm from home of fish and chips God's Country aka West Yorkshire, UK!
We can get some cod'n'chips but basically up here we want haddock as it is more salty and makes cod seem bland.
We like it cooked until the batter is turning deep brown so the fish is firm but just nice and moist - we do not want sloppy fish and batter!
We want the chips thin, golden, crisp out and soft inner - it is an art!
The oil is all important but best of all is oldfashioned beef dripping for sensational taste!
When I moved to this present flat I tried the little old fishshop round the corner but it had new owners and the taste was disgusting!
I've never actually had disgusting chips before so it was a first and no doubt due to using cheap oil or using it too long.
They closed down a few weeks later and it it still shut.
A posh new fish and chips 'restaurant' opened nearby recently but their prices are skyhigh and they offer halibut which we see as a prime fish!
We also like to have a small pot of mushy peas - dried peas boiled for ages to greygreen much with a bit of mint sauce - and we also like a pot of thick curry sauce too!