Long, long ago, in a Olympia-adjacent town far, far away, my mom told me there was some new fish & chips place we had to go to. HAD TO. You may not understand a certain rabidness of my family’s commitment to seafood, but just as an example, the Scottish faction pretty much came to this country because they heard there would be fried oysters. Fact.
Anyway, Mom heard about some place in Lacey, Washington that had great fish & chips, so off we went. And because I take hand-clapping, mentally retarded delight in puns, I basically fell out of my car seat when I saw that it was called “Beau Legs”. Bring it!
Beau Legs’ ambiance is borderline grim: a new strip mall in a deserted part of town, the interior little altered beyond its “What you see is what you rent” decor, but there’s also a glimmer of hopefulness that comes from these kinds of places. Is it possible they care more about food than about plastic plants? One can dream.
Also a good sign in the strawberry Fanta — a fry house without red pop is a bad omen indeed.
Anyway, let’s get to the point, shall we? For the most part, Beau Legs knows how to fry a damn fish. Everything was perfectly cooked and well-battered, though the cornmeal catfish did nothing to win me over to a side I was already against (I will hold a standard for beer batter until the day I die). But fuck catfish, we’ve got more important matters at hand. First up, look at those french fries. LOOK AT THEM. They are as perfect as you can hope for as a goddamn mortal, no question. Thin and equal parts crispy to mushy (do not even roll your eyes, you know you like the mushy ones), the fries are lightly seasoned with something akin to but not exactly Old Bay.
One of the things that made me stop and wonder who exactly was hiding behind the curtain to the kitchen were these buggers in the corner there. Those are clams strips, but not just any clam strips. Ideal ones. Fantasy ones. The kind of clam strip you think clam strips should taste like every time you order then and then find them disappointing. They were sweet enough that I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d been soaked in sugar water, and the slices were thick and clean-tasting and eventually prompted us to ask if we could order a basket of just clam strips (which weren’t on the menu). The proprietress assured us we could (and indeed, did at a later date).
Another surprise: hush puppies. Not that they had them, but that I liked them. All too often Hush Puppies strike me as a strange way to dispose of unwanted cornmeal. They’re gluey and greasy, leaden and unflavored. These weren’t exactly “lite” or anything, but they had a herbal flavor we couldn’t quite put our fingers on. We identified onion for certain, but I never could explain why they were such quality specimens.
As an aside, you might be surprised to learn that finding good fish & chips in the Northwest can be somewhat of a burden. The major player in town, The Olympia Oyster House, is mediocre on its finest day and potentially poisonous every other day. The bit players can be decent (Ben Moore’s) and disappointing (The Spar/McMenamins). The best fish & chips in the Northwest are found to the North, at Sunfish in Alki Beach. But should you find yourself 60 miles south, I’d hit Beau Legs if I were you.