Thirty-five years ago Bob Lenartowicz's Irish wife made him a fish-and-chips fan. And now, Rochester residents get to benefit from that love.
Dublin Fish & Chips made the move from Clinton Township and opened at 417 Main St. in June — right in the midst of the Main Street Makeover.
"At our previous location, Rochester residents would come in and say we should move out here," Lenartowicz said. "The foot traffic was one of the reasons we came here, but we also love the small-town feel."
An old Irish recipe
At one time Lenartowicz repaired boats for a living, which left his winters pretty open.
"I started doing restaurant work in the winters — I'd always wanted to own a restaurant — and I worked with someone who did a lot of seafood," Lenartowicz said.
Lenartowicz started playing with an old Irish recipe for fish-and-chips and made it his own. From there the decision was easy.
"There were a lot of fish-and-chip places when I was growing up on the eastside of Detroit. Nowadays, there are a lot of burger and pizza places but no more fish-and-chips."
Lenartowicz set out to remedy that situation by opening Dublin's Fish & Chips' first location in 2002 at the Oakwood Plaza on Hayes.
From these "humble beginnings" Lenartowicz soon had people waiting up to two hours to get their Lenten fare.
"We had a long church pew in the Clinton Township location and it would be packed solid on Fridays during Lent," Lenartowicz said. "People always said it was worth the wait."
Fresh, quality food
One visit to Dublin Fish & Chips and it's easy to taste how Lenartowicz has such a following: it starts with fresh fish and quality food.
The crab cakes are homemade with all real blue crab claw meat. They were soft and flaky, melt-in-the-mouth delicious. They are served with chips and coleslaw, two for $9 or three for $12.49.
The chips, or fries, are broad cut and made in a beer batter that gives them a unique taste.
And of course there's the fish. It's made with fresh prime loin cod and that specially tweaked old Irish recipe. The batter, made without beer, makes the fish delightfully flaky and tender. In fact, my editor (who eats so much fish-and-chips it's surprising that she hasn't grown gills) has declared it her "favorite fish-and-chips ever" surpassing her previous gold standard set years ago by a bar in Northville.
The two pieces of fish, served with chips and coleslaw, are $9.25; three pieces are $10.99; a kettle with 12 fish is $35.
The menu also includes white fish, walleye and lake perch, shrimp, clams and scallops. For non-fish fans there are chicken tenders; there's a children's menu, too.
As the Main Street Makeover project winds up, Lenartowicz hopes to get a bistro license so customers can enjoy a Guinness with their fish.
"It just goes together," he said.
Lenartowicz also plans to expand the menu to offer some favorites from his previous location: half-pound lobster tail, soft-shell crab, lobster/crab bisque and halibut, to name a few.
"I'd also like to offer the Dublin-style hamburger. It's lightly battered and deep-fried and served without a bun. It's very easy to eat on the go."
But mainly Lenartowicz is looking forward to meeting the people of Rochester.
"With the construction I feel like I haven't had a real taste of Rochester yet," he said. "I love to meet people — there's a treasure in everyone."
Dublin Fish & Chips is located at 417 Main Street, next to Holy Cannolis. Their current hours are Monday through Thursday and Saturday noon to 8 p.m. and Friday noon to 9 p.m. They are closed on Sunday. Hours will expand with the end of construction. They can be reached at 248-651-3474.