Along the East Coast, most coastal towns have their fair share of small fish-and-chip shacks serving things like lobster rolls and fried clams paired with fries. Now, after opening two locations of the successful fried chicken spot Bae’s, local fast-casual restaurateur Micah Camden and NFL player Ndamukong Suh have partnered with Ringside’s Craig Peterson to tackle a fish-and-chips shop in Portland. Rock Paper Fish has taken over the East Burnside Boxer Ramen location, with a menu of vegetarian crab cakes, New England clam chowder poutine, and an assortment of Oregon fried fish.
At Rock Paper Fish, the menu includes New England staples like fried clams and chowder, as well as more Pacific Northwestern takes on the style: the restaurant serves an Oregon bay shrimp and Dungeness crab roll instead of a lobster roll, appeases vegetarians with an artichoke-and-heart-of-palm based “crab” cake, and fries Pacific halibut and Oregon albacore instead of the customary cod or haddock. “I can get halibut fresh 11 months out of the year; I can get Oregon bay shrimp 10 months out of the year. I didn’t want to go to the default of cod or haddock,” Camden says. “People keep going ‘Do you have cod? Do you have cod?’ We’re not that kind of fish and chips house.”
Really, what Camden means when he talks about “New England” style is that it’s not in the British style, with hearty beer-batter crusts; instead, Rock Paper Fish brines the fish and then dips it in a Martinelli’s apple cider batter, which gives it a lighter, crispy crust. He says the fish travels better that way — the steam trapped in the thicker batter makes it get soggy. The dishes are meant to travel; for now, the shop is on DoorDash, but it’ll appear on other apps soon. All of the fish used at the restaurant is fresh, not frozen.
Rock Paper Fish is now open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays, at 2605 E Burnside Street.