I have a love-hate relationship with fishing. While I love any excuse to be outdoors—drinking suds and bonding with my son and friends—I hate that I’m terrible at it. More often than not, I’m getting skunked and coming home empty-handed. I suspect the fish have a vendetta against me for consuming so many of their relatives.

Regardless of my luck out in the field, my love for fish is never-ending, and what better way to consume them than deep-fried with a side of spuds? I’m referring, of course, to the one and only palatable British contribution to the culinary world: fish and chips.

This dish may seem simple enough, but finding a good fish and chips shop is tough. Most places serve up overly battered fish with a side of forgettable freezer fries. The newest entrant into the game is Early Limits, located in a tiny strip mall just a stone’s throw from the county jail.

Early Limits’ menu is about as simple as they come. They serve cod, ling cod and prawns. They were out of the ling on the day I visited, so my options were narrowed even further. We opted for the two-piece cod and chips ($11.25) with the garlic parmesan fries upgrade ($1.50) and the daily special of one-piece cod, prawns and chips ($10), which also comes with a soda.

The first thing I noted was the thin and light batter encasing the fish. It was a good start, considering how often I have encountered a thick and doughy shell. The fillet was freshly fried and had a nice, crispy exterior crunch, followed by a tender, juicy fish center. It was really quite excellent. The batter on the prawns was also crispy. Though a bit thicker than the fish, it still gave a satisfying crunch and didn’t hinder the sweetness of the prawn.

Delving into their thick, fresh-cut fries was quite a treat. The thickness of these taters landed somewhere between a steak fry and a standard diner fry. The Early Limits kitchen keeps the skin on their potatoes, a nice touch that imparts an earthy freshness. The garlic parmesan seasoning had a zesty burst of fresh garlic flavor that was well complimented by the sweet nuttiness of the parmesan and had my taste buds tingling.

It wouldn’t be fish and chips without some delicious dips, and Early Limits certainly has this covered. Both their tartar and cocktail sauces are made in-house and are delicious. Their chunky tartar sauce was bursting with so much fresh dill and garlic flavor that I found myself dipping again and again. Their cocktail sauce was rich
and had a piquant tang at the end from the horseradish and lemon. They really should consider bottling them and selling them to the public; they’re that good.

The term “early limits” is a saying fisherman use for when they catch their legal limit of fish quickly for the day—a problem I’ll never encounter, but that’s OK. From now on, when I’m looking for a quick, inexpensive and tasty fix for my fish jones, I’ll be right here at Early Limits. I would like to see them expand their menu in the future. Calamari and chowder would be a good start. Until then, simplicity and great taste is a winning recipe.

Early Limits Fish & Chips
110 N 1st St, Ste E, San Jose