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TRUE BRIT

There's no beer at all at the 24-year-old Yorkshire Fish & Chips, and that's a bloody shame. Put Pint's atmosphere and beer together with Yorkshire's food, and you'd 'ave a 'ell of a pub. Although Yorkshire is one of the most breathtaking regions in England, this namesake is a dive--an Englishman might even refer to it as "downright grotty." Yorkshire's fish and chips, however, are a true thing of beauty. This is the genuine article: cod coated in batter and deep-fried in super-hot oil until crisp waves of crust cover the soft flakes of fresh fish. The only thing missing from Yorkshire's delivery was a sheath of white paper wrapping the meal (even in England, newspaper went out of style when health came in). The chips that sat beneath our "standard" fish dinner ($4.22) were appropriately soggy with crunchy edges, just right for slogging with malt vinegar. Only the cole slaw failed the test; it was mushy, probably a day or two old, and watery.

The oysters ($5.15) were as good as the fish: big, meaty but tender, and encrusted in that peanut-oil-soaked batter. The mollusks came with more chips, so we ordered a few cups of clam chowder (65 cents a cup) to cut through the grease. But the soup was no help--the clam crumbs were trapped in a viscous sea of milk and flour. And sadly, all we had to wash down the mess were a couple of sodas.

"There's enough alcohol around," says Terry Hanson, patriarch of the family that owns Yorkshire. "I think we'll just leave things the way they are." Things got to be this way, he explains, because the original lease stipulated that no liquor license would be granted to the site. "Then, years later, when I might have put alcohol in, the laws said that no one under 21 years of age can serve it. Well, everyone in my family certainly wasn't over 21, and I wasn't about to go out hiring other people. Now I don't think we need to change.

"Who are the British to say that beer goes with fish and chips, anyway?" Hanson says. "I prefer it with coffee, myself, and I can serve it any way I want to."

And isn't that why we declared independence in the first place?

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