Food & Drink

Fast Food Review: Long John Silver’s Thick-Cut Cod & Shrimp Basket




I love LJS. Which may be akin to saying “I love poison”; I don’t know. But deep-fried, battered seafood is an English tradition that I miss, because literally everyone who tries to do fish and chips here fucks it up in some way. Usually, it’s by not having fresh-cut fries. Often, it’s by breading the fish instead of battering it (the only acceptable fish to bread is plaice due to its thinness, and frankly I’m not sure if that’s even widely available in the U.S.). If most places batter fish, Long John’s bludgeons it. Then it presumably pays the favor forward on your arteries once inside you. This is delicious, delicious death.

What I love even more is that they don’t even try to pretend they’re healthy, because there’s no point. This is a chain that still serves you extra fried bits of cholesterol with your order, and will even give you a whole cardboard container of them free if you ask for “an order of crumbs.” And people do. Ohhhh yes, they do. I’ve always had a tiny modicum too much dignity, but one day it will be stripped from me.

There are no Long John Silverses in L.A. proper, but WonderCon got me out into Orange County, a place I spent a couple dark years of my life living in. However, I still know my old haunts, and one of them is LJS. It’s a pretty sad LJS, I grant you, owing to the fact that it’s a combination LJS/KFC, and most people only want to order chicken. If, heaven forbid, you get an LJS item, you literally see them walk to the back to get it individually, toss it in the frier with no enthusiasm, then slowly arrange the stuff on a plate. And I don’t know if this is a national trend, but they don’t have the big ol’ bottles of vinegar and hot sauce by the napkins any more – an irritating switch has been made to plastic packets that you must request. At least the sauce pumps in varieties ketchup, tartar and cocktail still survive.

What I got was not anywhere on the menu, but it did appear in a window sticker. And now I can’t find specific reference to it on the website or Facebook; I picked out the closest image I could find, yet it has hushpuppies in it and mine didn’t, as you can see in the comparison shots. Are these in fact different items, or was the beaten-down employee just too dazed to know? These are life’s mysteries to ponder.

The fries have changed since last I ate here – they used to be the kids of fries with crispy bits of batter occasionally hanging onto the sides for dear life, and now they’re a thicker cut, with hint of peel. They’re still not exactly good, but adequate, at least. The shrimps were promised to be larger; I think they just had more batter, but they were sufficiently crispy that I could eat the tail-shell bit, no problem.

As for the cod – one circular piece, less than the size of a burger, is not really acceptable, nor an improvement on the generic diamond-shaped fish-product that’s the norm. Plus it was overcooked. I still liked it okay, but you know how it sucks when you eat something mediocre and then want to get the better thing instead except now you’re full? Yeah. I get one shot at this stuff on an OC trip, and the pretty ad seduced me out of my habits.

Long John’s. Damn.

Actually, I was going to go to The Block in Orange for Jody Maroni’s chili cheese fries (best fast food version IMO, by a long shot), except this was OC on a Saturday night and every single parking spot in that soulless outlet mall was taken. So thanks, awful people, you kept me from being one of you. And I got my yearly dose of fat in a single day elsewhere.