Off Shore Fish & Chips (Calumet, MI)

After a nice day of hiking in Eagle and Copper Harbors, and taking a dip in Eagle Harbor (which, while substantially warmer than the dip I took off Isle Royale, was still a bit nippish), we decided to stop by Calumet for dinner. Calumet, being one of the bigger towns this side of Houghton, actually has a few restaurant options, including Carmelita’s (Mexican, famous for their thimbleberry margarita), Michigan House (brewpub), and two pizza places (Jim’s and Calumet Pizza Work). But we wanted to try a place recommended by more than a few people: Off Shore Fish & Chips.

Offshore Fish & Chips opened back in 2017, originally a second spot to their original location in Lake Linden, but the latter closed in 2018. Situated in a very nicely renovated space (that, on my last trip was the Eagle Cafe, and apparently since then has also been a Coney and the Omphale Cafe and Gallery), between a bookstore and the former North End Bar, this used to be one of the main streets of Calumet, and it’s rather nice seeing all the nice woodwork and paint put into making this a comfortable and inviting space.

Menu-wise, Off Shore tries to keep it really simple; it’s basically a fish and chips shop, much like many of the “chippies” I would visit in the UK, that’s basically the menu: fish, shrimp, chicken tenders, fries… chowder, and an assortment of other appetizers that make good use of the fryer (cheese sticks, mushrooms, onion rings). They keep it simple, but that allows them to focus on doing fish and chips really well.

One of the things that delighted me about Off Shore was happenstance: when I went to use the restroom towards the back of the restaurant, you pass right by the kitchen. In doing so, I got to overhear the conservation, of an older employee (the owner?) talking a younger employee through the art of correctly battering and deep-frying seafood: proper dredging, proper oil temperature, and carefully setting things in the oil instead of tossing them in. It’s really refreshing to see a place taking the time to do things right instead of the more normal “just toss it in the Frialator” approach. So, with that in mind, I decided to order the combo platter du jour, which on this visit was a mix of Atlantic cod, shrimp, and perch. In some ways, it feels wrong for my combo plate to have several distinctly non-UP seafood items on it, but on the other hand… the quality was good. Really good. The cod was cooked perfectly, nice and flaky, with a nice crispy breading that stuck well to the fish without being greasy. A great start.

The perch? Even better: nicely done local perch with a lot of flavor, and they’ve got the frying down pat, since these substantially thinner slabs of perch (compared to the cod) were also cooked to perfection. But the star for me was the shrimp: I adore properly deep-fried shrimp, shrimp goes from ‘squishy’ to ‘rubbery’ over a surprisingly narrow temperature window, and these were done to absolute perfection.

So, I was really happy with the results. Everything was tasty, the prices reasonable, and the staff is friendly and attentive to detail. I can see why this place remains popular with both locals and tourist. I’d certainly come back, for more shrimp, and perhaps try some more of the local fish.

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