If you are looking for fish and chips in the spirit of a classic Irish “chipper,” look no further than the Yankee Chipper, a fish and chip shop that just opened up in Wyndmoor, Montgomery County, recently.
The Yankee Chipper is owned by cousins Eric Connor and Shana Cox. Connor has been working in the restaurant industry for much of his life, including when he lived in Dublin for about three and a half years.
“I’ve always wanted a restaurant, and I thought of the concept a couple of years ago,” Connor says. “There weren’t really any restaurants in Philadelphia just focused on good fish and chips. And since we come from a big Irish family, it just kind of made sense for us to do an Irish-themed place.”
The name of the game at the Yankee Chipper is authenticity. These fish and chips take a lot of time and effort to prepare. It is a labor-intensive process. The way the cod is butchered, in particular, is incredibly important for Connor.
“Every piece of fish, we try to get exactly the same look on it and then it’s dried out for a certain amount of time,” Connor explains. “The batter we use is our own recipe, but it’s a very traditional, Irish way of doing it. It’s a very light batter with a little bit of turmeric. And we also make sure that we’re keeping the fish super-cold throughout the whole process.”
The process behind making the chips is just as important for them. Connor says that it takes a day and a half just to get the chips ready to dunk into the fryer.
“Just like every chipper in Ireland and England has their own way of doing it, we have our own way of doing it. We try to do things so that if we were in Dublin, we could hang with the chippers over there,” says Connor.
While the main focus at the Yankee Chipper is on fish and chips, this careful preparation carries over to the other items on the menu as well. Cox explains that all of the dressings and sauces are homemade and there is a lot of preparation that goes into the different sandwiches as well.
So far, business has been great for the Yankee Chipper. Connor says they sold out of fish every night their first week. “Not that we want to sell out every night, we want to have enough for everybody, but it’s amazing the response that we got,” he adds.
The Yankee Chipper has a counter out front with restaurant seating behind it. This makes it different from most fish and chips places in Ireland, where service is typically only takeout.
Connor and Cox were originally envisioning a place with just a counter setup and a bar on the wall, with a couple of tables. Now, the Yankee Chipper has plenty of room for indoor dining. The extra space has been useful considering how popular the restaurant has been so far.
Before the Yankee Chipper moved in, the space had been through several different incarnations. Most recently it was a shot and beer bar called Turney’s. Some time before that it was McGurk’s. “We had a woman come in last week with a picture of her mom, and the McGurk family sponsored her mom over here from Ireland. So she just wanted to take pictures of the place and show her family,” says Connor. “But when we got this spot we didn’t know that it had any kind of Irish history so that was very cool to learn about.”
If fish isn’t your thing, there are other Irish dishes at the Yankee Chipper that you can try. One of them is curry chips, which was just added to the menu recently. These chips covered in curry sauce might seem strange to an American, but they are a big thing over in Ireland. “If you’re in Dublin, it’s very common for you to say to a significant other ‘Oh let’s go get a curry chip’,” Connor explains. “It’s a really big thing over there, so we added curry chips to the menu.”
The Yankee Chipper also has bangers and mash that comes with gravy. It took a long time for them to find the right sausages for the recipe, but Connor and Cox held a taste test with all of their Irish friends to make sure that their bangers and mash were the real deal.
There are also vegan options on the menu like their vegan sandwich. Cox claims that the vegan sandwich tastes just like a sloppy joe. Their vegan rolls come from a bakery in Germantown.
You can tell how much they care about providing an authentic Irish experience when it comes to eating at the Yankee Chipper. Connor and Cox have done the research and the restaurant puts in the time and effort to prepare the food every day.
Their work has paid off so far with their early success. “Just between people talking on social media and word of mouth between friends and family, the response has been unbelievable so far,” Cox says. “And then when we did end up running out of fish on certain nights, people were incredibly understanding. And people have come back to try it again. So it’s been amazing to see the support from the community.” The Yankee Chipper is located at 827 East Pleasant Avenue in Wyndmoor. Their hours of operation are 3 p.m. -9 p.m. from Tuesday-Thursday and 3 p.m.-10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.