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January 25, 2013

Grazing: A Dedicated Fish-and-Chips Shop Opens in Brattleboro


If you know nothing about World's Most Delicious, let your nose be your guide: As soon as you enter the dimly lit space, the smell of malt vinegar wallops you in the face.

Brattleboro's newest place to eat may be tiny, but it's also colorful and gutsy: They serve fish and chips (and Belgian fries), and that's pretty much it. The compact menu is even painted onto the wall behind the register, suggesting it will change rarely, if ever. With fish availability ever shifting, though, the market prices for each night's supper are scrawled on a nearby chalkboard: $12 for eight ounces of fish and a basket of fries; $10 for half that.

"We only use hake," says Sam Scott-Moncrieff, who opened WMD with his Dad, a Scottish filmmaker, in December. "It's less oily." And, he adds, it's plentiful, which allows them to keep prices down. A nearby cooler has bottles of beer arranged in neat rows: Belhaven Scottish Ale, Old Speckled Hen, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Trout River Rainbow Red.

I order a half supper and settle in at one of three picnic tables adorned with salt, pepper, vinegar and a metal flower made from a spigot handle. On a small stage in the window, a musician named Brooks Letchworth strums on his guitar, taking part in WMD's "ing For Your Supper deal  — perform for an hour and WMD comps you a full fish dinner.

WmdTen minutes later, Scott-Moncrieff sets down a paper basket heaped with string-like fries and two curls of fish fried to a deep nut brown. The batter forms little peaks, which let loose tiny bursts of oil and crunch with each bite.

Though the batter is somewhat bland and yeasty, its texture is loud and satisfying, and the fish inside is snow white, tender and even a little sweet. Doused with vinegar and salt, it's delectable. The fries are on the wet side but earthy, some with skin still clinging to their sides. 

When visiting the UK, I always try to track down the best fish-and-chip shop in each new town — so it feels somehow anchoring to have one in my own backyard. Long live the WMD.

World's Most Delicious, 50 Elliot St., Brattleboro. 802-375-3702.

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