Grub Spy: On the batter

With the friendliest vibe, tastiest sides and perfectly crisp mains, this Dungarvan diner shows the simple things can also be the best, writes Grub Spy Alan Kelly

The modern exterior

Some of the wine on offer

Perfectly crisp scampi

Sunday World

It must be really difficult nowadays to come up with a company name that’s original, big on impact and not easily forgotten. Using symbols and characters is one way to achieve this, and apparently, it is all the rage.

It’s not a new approach though. For example, Nike and Apple symbols are so familiar we don’t even need to see their names. And what about the McDonald’s giant M, or Subway’s yellow and green arrows? It seems if you want to pack a long-term punch, keeping it uncluttered and simple is a proven way to go.

{…} AndChips Unit 3 Castle House, Davitts Quay, Dungarvan, Co Waterford Five stars Food: €23.50; Drinks: €10

I’m guessing that’s what proprietor Eunice Power was thinking when she decided to use an ellipsis inside a pair of curly brackets {…} as part of her business name.

As well as being unique and forward-looking, chippers (in my opinion) must retain a touch of nostalgia. Think shiny white tiles, stainless-steel warming cabinets, and a plastic menu board filled with a myriad of deep-fried delights.

And don’t we all have a favourite chippy? My new favourite is most definitely {…} AndChips in Dungarvan. Not merely because of its name and cool understated retro vibe, or the long line of hungry locals and holidaymakers waiting patiently for their chippy fix when there are plenty of other outlets to choose from. There is also the food.

Everything on the menu looks tempting and everything smells tempting: haddock, ling, cod, fish tacos, fish burgers and scampi. We go for haddock and scampi with a shovel-full of chips.

First, I have to mention the in-house tartar sauce and the mushy peas — the best and tastiest ever, and I do mean ever. My haddock fillet is firm-fleshed, flaky-white and swaddled in super-crispy batter. Pelted with salt and black pepper and a squirt of lemon, it is so-unsurprisingly delicious and will never go out of fashion.

Imagine big fat juicy prawns tossed in seasoned breadcrumbs, then cooked to crispy perfection. That’s exactly what you get with the scampi here — and that’s before we get to the gorgeous chips.

Everybody is different, but I usually get stuck-into grazing the chips straightaway. It means I am rapidly half-full, and thus take time when devouring my fish.

There’s a wall counter and a few seats here (which luckily we manage to nab) and along with a couple of glasses of chilled Sandenel pinot grigio, we enjoy an entirely unimprovable seaside feast.

I must also pay tribute to the friendliest of friendly staff and the smooth military-like manoeuvres going on in a super-busy open kitchen. There seem to be just as many phone-order collections as in-house service happening, all expertly handled without a grumpy face or a single angry voice. It’s not just the grub they get right.

It’s another roasting hot evening, and we’re strolling back to our hotel. A gentle sea breeze is rolling across the town, and the joyous banter of happy diners and drinkers is evidence of the marvellous time everybody is having. We didn’t spend a fortune in Dungarvan, we didn’t have to. So for all the right reasons, our {…} AndChips experience will live long in our restaurant memory banks.

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