There’s almost always a line at the Newman’s Fish Market’s take-out fish and chips window, just off the south side of Newman’s Fish Market on Willamette Street.
That’s a good thing, because it really is the most magical window in town, from which small packages of delicious fish ‘n’ chips are served in one of those cardboard boats, wrapped in brown butcher paper — the paper soaked through with an appropriately dangerous amount of grease.
In business for over a century, Newman’s Fish Market added the take-out window in the early ’90s, owner Dwight Collins tells me.
“It took off in a hurry,” he says. Now he sees some of the same customers almost every day.
From the very beginning, the folks at Newman’s knew space would be an issue, but when it comes to food service, a persistent line can be a nice problem to have.
“It encourages other people,” Collins says. They ask, ‘What’s going on here? Must be good!’” he says.
Since opening, some outdoor seating has been added, covered for when the weather gets extra Oregon-y. But the Newman’s Fish & Chip take-out window is, by design, a grab ‘n’ go experience. The fish and chips are toted off in non-descript brown paper bags, adding to the sense that you’ve made a delicious discovery only the most in-the-know townies are privy to.
This kind of simplicity has been part of the window’s concept from the very beginning, Collins says — to use the quality fish served in the market and get it into a cooked product “at great value for the customer.”
When it comes to making the fish ‘n’ chips, Newman’s does the whole process in-house, breading the fish (cod, salmon, halibut and shrimp) in day-old Metropol bread, “so we get that nice, fine breading on it with a fresh bread crumb,” Collins says.
Coconut shrimp and scallops are also available, as well as a side salad and shrimp Louie. Sides include house-made coleslaw and clam chowder.
“We try to do all the process ourselves,” Collins says. “Nothing’s pre-done. We make all the sauces ourselves — we grind the cabbage, every bit of the process.”
Before opening the window, Newman’s followed the lead of fish ‘n’ chips joints like Ivar’s up in Seattle. They had their little fish and chip stands,” Collins says. “They do a great job, and we tried to replicate it.”
Here’s my strategy for consuming fish and chips from Newman’s. First, lay out the butcher paper like a tablecloth. Then, douse the fries and fish in vinegar (to-go packets are also available).
Next, mix the house-made, tangy tartar and cocktail sauces together straight onto the paper and dump it all out. Finally grab at it all in one big mess, tearing off chunks and consume them like a hungry bear at the riverside.
Newman’s Fish Market take-out window is open Monday through Friday 11 am to 7 pm and Saturday 11 am to 6:30 pm at 1545 Willamette Street in Eugene. For more information, go to NewmansFish.com.