Fish & Chips is in a bumper car-esque stretch of road in Altamonte Springs. Tucked into a worn strip mall between West Lake Brantley Road/Academy Drive and Pearl Lake Causeway, it is hard to gauge from the outside what wonders wait inside.
Owner Raymond Goonewardena grew up in Sri Lanka, "but I learned to cook in the Bronx." The weather brought him to Florida and a welcoming community has made Central Florida his home.
Sri Lanka is famous for its spices and for exporting tea, coffee, coconuts and cinnamon. Flavorful curries are a mainstay of the culinary repertoires of home cooks.
The restaurant's menu "is a fusion of where I grew up, influences I have picked up along the way and my own favorite foods," Goonewardena says.
The island spiced jumbo shrimp ($12.95) is a particular favorite of Goonewardena because it is inspired by recipes created by his mother. "It's a simple dish served with basmati rice," he says. But it is the nicely balanced red curry sauce that makes it wonderfully complex.
The restaurant's namesake entrees do the Brits proud. Depending on market availability guests can choose from haddock, cod, catfish, whiting and Florida black grouper. Prices can vary depending on seasons. My generous dinner order of haddock and chips was $10.95 and there is a daily fish and chips lunch special that will only set you back $7.95. Dinner orders come with creamy fresh coleslaw. At lunch you can add slaw or hushpuppies for $1 more.
The fish was blanketed in a golden brown crunchy coating and the potato planks (the chips) were hot-from-the-fryer crisp.
Goonewardena has two soups on most days. Keep your fingers crossed for the she crab bisque (market price). The soup has generous lumps of crab meat and is kissed with just the right amount of sherry. The New England Style clam chowder is equally as good.
The crab cake appetizer ($5.45) comes with a peppery curry sauce on the side. The sauce was a nice foil for the two thick oblong patties that were packed with rich, ivory lumps of crab meat.
We added a side of roasted vegetables ($2.95) because I was woefully off the mark for my recommended servings for the day. The mixture was a delicious, well-seasoned blend of sliced okra, red bell pepper strips, whole green beans, sliced carrots and a few pieces of aromatic garlic.
A reader tip sent me to Fish & Chips and I am forever grateful.
I have driven by this place many times since it opened in 2007. With hands firmly grasping the steering wheel and eyes focused on the cars in front of me, I've been missing out for years. Thankfully, I now know when to engage the turn signal and get my fix of she crab soup, the namesake fare and roasted vegetables.
See for yourself
Fish & Chips
Where: 1146 W. State Road 436, Altamonte Springs (between West Lake Brantley Road/Academy Drive and Pearl Lake Causeway)
When: 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, noon-9 p.m. Saturday, noon-8 p.m. Sunday
How much: $6-$21 (prices can vary depending on market price of fresh fish)
Beverages: Soft drinks, beer and wine
Wines by the glass: $3.95
Extras: Takeout, table service, family friendly
Credit: Yes ($10 minimum purchase)