FADE FROM BLACK:
Int. Codfather chip shop — day
CHIPPER (standing beside a vat of bubbling oil, but not petting a cat because that would be weird.)
You’ve known of me for several months, but this is the first time you came to me for counsel, for fish. But let’s be frank here: you never wanted my friendship. And you were afraid to be in my debt.
I didn’t want to get into trouble. Bathing suit season is coming and there is no way that’s an advisable portion size for a piece of cod and …
I understand. You found paradise in Charleston, had a good trade, made a good living. The restaurants provided for you. And there were grocery stores during the off hours. You didn’t need a friend of me. But now you come to me and you say — “Adam give me fish” — but you don’t ask with respect. You don’t offer friendship. You don’t even think to call me Codfather.
Be my chipper —
(*drops to one knee*)
Some day, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept these mushy peas to eat with your meal.
FADE TO BLACK
As I pull up to the unassuming white brick building in the Naval Yard area of North Charleston, this is what’s going through my mind. The restaurant’s name, The Codfather, triggers it. But far from a mafia-front, this Reynolds Avenue restaurant is a fish and chips shop and the Codfather’s menu is as short as it is sweet.
Fish and chips – $10
Fish only – $7
Chips only – $4
Mushy peas – $2
Gravy – $1
Beverage – $1
There’s been talk of meat pies and other menu additions, but so far it’s just fish. Regardless, it’s hard to imagine anything upstaging the current offering because, oh, what a thing those fish and chips are.
Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but these filets arrive piping hot. Golden brown and vaguely reminiscent of a potato stick in flavor, the light, crisp batter achieves the rare state of perfection most efforts only dream about. The moist, steaming filet of cod inside hails from the icy waters of the Barents Sea off the northern coasts of Norway and Russia.
h Adam Randall, the owner/chef of the Codfather, even knows the names of the boats that caught the fish. No, he doesn’t have a first-hand relationship with the fisherman, but an environmentally conscious streak: “It’s printed right on the side of the box, so I can’t help but read it when I’m breaking them down for recycling.”
Each flip-flop sized portion is served atop a generous mound of lightly browned and equally crisp french fries. If you like to gild the lily, a thick layer of mashed split peas can be smeared across the crunchy filet, and the mushy texture adds an interesting, salty contrast.
Similarly, the gravy lends a lush salinity to each toothy bite. The woman dishing up the fish is quick to note that the sauce is the only item not made in-house, but in this case that’s a good call. Whatever it is, it’s delightful. No need to fix what isn’t broken.
Service is chatty and friendly, and Randall comes around to check on customers when his cooking duties allow.
As a final note, it’s hard not to feel warmly toward a brick-and-mortar chip shop that refrains from beverage-based extortion. A George Washington in exchange for a cold bottled water or can of soda is more than fair, just another reason to wish away Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday awaiting the return of the Codfather to his post.
Until then, you can simply post your feelings on his Facebook page and maybe borrow a line from Peter Clemenza: “I love you with all-a my heart. If I don’t see-a you again soon, I’m-a gonna die.”