It's a theme reinforced throughout the small eatery, which opened on Bethlehem's South Side last month, from a ''bouquet'' of two small flags on each table to the freshly minted decor that picks up the flag's primary colors bold, red walls and a high ceiling of deep blue.
The DetailsSOUTHAMPTON FISH & CHIPS
15 E. Fourth Street
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Thurs.; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.; noon-10 p.m. Sat.; closed Sun.
Prices: Fish & chips, $6.60-$11.32; pasties, sausage, shepherd's pies, $4.72-$9.43; dessert, $2.36
Credit cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Smoking: No smoking
Accessibility: Ramp for wheelchair entry under construction; rest rooms are wheelchair accessible.
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Even so, the eatery has that American fast food sensibility given its more-than-reasonable prices, quick service and basic fare but with a little more character and charm.
As the name tells it, the focus here is fish and chips, that quintessential British meal of fried fish and potatoes, which, according to the menu, dates to the British Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. So ubiquitous was this everyday meal, as a matter of fact, it was the only ''take away'' meal not subject to rationing in Great Britain during World War II.
Southampton Fish & Chips features five fish choices cod, haddock, tilapia, whiting and shrimp in small and large portion sizes (four to five ounces and eight to 10 ounces, respectively).
Additional ''British grub'' includes shepherd's pie (made on the premises) and a variety of pasties, which are not made in-house. Homemade steak and Guinness pie is featured as a special about every two weeks. In a nod to American tastes, chicken tenders, hot dogs and chicken sandwiches are available, too.
Cod, the traditional choice for British fish & chips, was my choice as well. Deep fried in low cholesterol vegetable oil, this fish was light and flaky with a delightfully crisp, clean crust, not at all greasy. A companion's tilapia was the same.
Generally not a fan of tartar sauce, I found the sauce served with this fish more flavorful than the usual variety, even though it wasn't made in-house.
Southampton's standard fare chips essentially French fries are available with ''curry'' or gravy, and there's British malt vinegar already on the tables, right beside the salt and pepper.
I ordered the curry for tasting: Surprisingly, the yellowish, rather syrupy sauce, served on the side, was rather bland. Dressing the chips with gravy created an excellent combination, but since when is gravy bad on anything?
For authenticity's sake, I also sprinkled malt vinegar on the thick, steak-cut chips, but I have to admit, I didn't enjoy them that way, so I regressed to that old American standby, ketchup.
Traditional bangers and mash, a companion's choice, was standard fare its uniquely seasoned sausage links buried in mashed potatoes and topped with rich, dark gravy.
Dessert choices at Southampton Fish & Chips are limited to a variety of fruit pasties and fried candy bars. Yes, you read that correctly fried candy bars. I know what you're thinking: Who in the world would wrap an already calorie-laden Mars or Snickers bar in batter, then deep fry it?
That would be the Scottish, where the idea originated with Mars bars and where the practice still continues in many fish-and-chip shops. Too intriguing to pass over, I signed on for the Snickers version of this debauchery.
Imagine melted chocolate oozing through nooks and crannies of a warm, cake-like coating, with chopped peanuts adding crunch and an extra measure of flavor. It's a dessert as good as it sounds, but watch out for intense feelings of guilt and remorse later, as penance for the capital investment of calories required for consumption of this ultimate junk food.
As I should have expected, at Southampton Fish & Chips I had one of the best cups of tea I have ever been served outside my own home. Brewed to a T (pun intended) from PG Tips, a popular brand in the United Kingdom, the steaming, hot liquid approached perfection and would have achieved it had it been served in a real cup, rather than a Styrofoam one.
THE DETAILS: SOUTHAMPTON FISH & CHIPS
15 E. Fourth Street