I have been working in the Grandview/Fifth by Northwest area of Columbus for over ten years and have spent many a lunch hour driving up and down Grandview Avenue and across 5th Avenue seeking out new eating spots. I can’t begin to count how many times my lunchtime excursions have taken me directly past Marino’s Seafood Fish & Chips. Located about a block east of the intersection of 5th and Northwest, Marino’s is at the virtual nexus of my lunch universe, yet for years I always seemed to avoid this little gem.
When I was in grade school, I remember being enthralled by fish and chips—the plastic baskets lined with faux newspaper was a welcome experience that seemed almost exotic. As I grew older, however, my experiences with fish and chips began to sour. Improperly fried fish produced an overly oily and greasy coating covering a mushy filet of indistinguishable white-fleshed fish. Unchanged fryer oil caused not only slightly rancid tasting fish, but left the chips (and anything else submerged in the oil) with an old-fish-like aftertaste. Bad fried fish is one of those things that when it’s bad, it’s really bad; I had enough forgettable experiences that I swore off fish and chips for years.
A recent visit to England and Scotland, however, included some amazing fish and chips and reignited my appreciation for the dish. Upon my return, I went to Marino’s for lunch with a coworker and immediately regretted the many years I had neglected to visit.
My standing order has become the fish and shrimp platter, which comes with a choice of coleslaw or macaroni salad (I choose the former), and includes fish (1), shrimp (3), chips, and hushpuppies. Visually, the food is beautiful—everything is golden brown and perfectly fried; no burnt pieces or doughy underdone bits. The aroma is clean with no tell-tale sign of rancid oil or fishiness. The fish is always firm and the shrimp, plump. The thick-cut chips are steamy and fluffy inside. The hushpuppies have a noticeably sweet taste, which makes a nice accompaniment to the salt of the fish and chips. The impressive part is that the fried food itself isn’t greasy—the paper basket the meal is served in remains opaque and oil-free throughout the dining experience.
Marino’s is open for both lunch and dinner (though closed Sundays). In addition to fish and chips, their menu includes shrimp, chicken, fried smelts, clams, two types of chowder, baked fish, and a decent selection of desserts, including baklava.
Fresh oil and correct frying temperatures ensure Marino’s food is consistently good. They’ve earned a regular spot in my lunch rotation and have restored my faith that delicious fish and chips can still be found.