“Is there anywhere to eat between Walsall and Birmingham?”, a Twitter-er (tweeter?) asked t’other day. “Why yes, the Black Country Museum for fish and chips!” I responded, instantly. “Seriously?” came the response.
Yes! Seriously. I’ve been banging on about the fish and chips at the Black Country Museum for at least five years now, and still people think I’m joking. I’m not! To my mind they easily do the best fish and chips in the West Midlands, whilst laying a strong claim to the best fish and chips in the UK (and by extension the known Universe).
As with all great food experiences, it transcends what on the plate, or in this case in the cone. Ideally you will visit BCLM on a bright, sunny day which is slightly too cold to be completely comfortable. The bitter cold will sharpen the appetite and prime the stomach for its incoming raft of vinegar-soaked fats and carbs. The museum – which is indisputedly the best of the living museums – will have already given you a taste of the appalling conditions of the working class as they mined, chain-made and forged their way through a tough, tough life. The thoughts of such privation will serve to make your first bite of the dripping-fried, perfectly crisp, never greasy batter feel even more luxurious. The flakes of cod (always cod) are soft, thick and not overcooked. The chips have a good heft of dripping about them. Absolute perfection.
A few practical points: The museum isn’t particularly cheap to get into at around £12, although worth every penny. This is offset by the fact that you can use your receipt for free entry for the forthcoming year. Think of it as membership to an exclusive fish and chip club. The queues for Hobbs & Son, which was a real fish and chip shop before being moved to the museum from Hall Street, Dudley – brick-by-brick and painstakingly rebuilt and refurbished will probably be long at a weekend and busy periods, although I’ve never had to wait more than 30 minutes. Bear in mind in busy periods they sometimes run both fish and chip shops and sometimes one shop will be serving fish and chips for non-meat eaters, do not on any circumstances get tricked into eating these!!
I’ll leave it to your conscience to decide if you should get a pickled egg.