Monday, November 1, 2010

The Knock Kneed Lobster

Incongruity or things that don't always make sense right away come up rather frequently when you're traveling around for business or pleasure. In today's vernacular what I'm essentially saying is "Who'da thunk it?" In this case the two things that don't automatically come together in the mind's eye is Phoenix, Arizona's love for very English fish and chips.

One after the other, some one-off Mom & Pop "chippies" by the side of the road, others with a chain of outlets across the valley, one is never far from one of these greasy delights from across the pond. Having lived and traveled in Europe I've been accustomed to the joys of a golden fried filet paired up with thick, starchy planks of deep fried wedges since I was a child. I remember living in Atlanta and putting in regular calls to Arthur Treacher's for what remains some of the tastiest fish and chips on this side of the Atlantic.

I've been to Long John Silver's and Captain D's on many an occasion and have the gut to show for it but I simply didn't expect to see the number of local varieties that serve Greater Phoenix. Understand also that these are all restaurants dedicated to the art of fish and chips. Other food offerings are on the menu but these are not wanna-be pubs or airport taverns that ALSO serve fish and chips. These establishments and their customers LIVE for fish and chips - in the middle of the Arizona desert.

An uncle encouraged me to visit a favorite haunt of his since the days of his own childhood in Central Phoenix not too far from the airport. Every return trip he makes to visit family includes a stop at the Knock Kneed Lobster at 32nd and Washington for a taste of bygone days and a bit of fish. Who could resist such an endorsement as I made sure to include the place on my list of per diem options for dinner one evening.

To look at the place is to pass right by if you even notice it at all. A low white building sits at the northeast corner of the intersection looking for all the world like someplace only locals would know or care about. No immaculate landscaping, attractive architecture or over-the-top neon screaming to passers-by, it is a typical one-off shop that quietly goes about its business of serving large portions of golden fish and shoe-string potatoes, bottles of vinegar and sauce dispensers at the ready.

The menu was overloaded with other choices but if this is a one and only visit I go with the claim to fame signature dish for my evening of calories, carbohydrates and cholesterol. The verdict? Not bad. I honestly have a (ruined to some) taste for Long John Silver's over the meal I ate at "KKL" but I allowed that if it is something you grew up with there must certainly be nothing else like it. The filets were large but it seemed as if they were pounded rather thin and slightly crunchier than I prefer. They definitely were not in the same size category as those served in England which seem to be the whole fish instead of just one filet of cod. The meal was passable but no real great shakes.

Would I go back? Well, let's just say that I'd probably want to try Ed's, Pete's, Brad's, Mandy's, Lazy Lou's or The Codfather first, if only to have something to compare them with.

Gotta go!

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