French fries at The Wee Chippy are excellent. They are from long, hand-cut, skin-on russet potatoes. They have a nice outer layer of crunchy, caramelized potato with creamy insides. The silken texture and browned sweet skin of these perfectly fried russets needs only one thing: salt. And in this very small chip window just down from the Venice Beach boardwalk, salt is what’s for lunch. Wee Chippy was started when Joe Gorrie, a Scottish expat living in Venice, developed a reputation among friends for making excellent French fries. When he took his chips to the boardwalk, he had a secret weapon: a cabinet of salts.
The salt menu at The Wee Chippy presents many different flavor possibilities, even more so when you take into account that salts can be mixed and matched anyway you like. You can take your chips with lime salt or make it lime salt and garlic salt, or make it lime salt, garlic salt, and ginger salt, and so on. Different salts on different chips can change the nature of your lunch.
We got one order of chips with “fresh tangy lime salt” and one with “sweet toasted onion salt.” The lime salt is subtle, but noticeable in every bite. It doesn’t taste artificial or too nosey. It makes for an excellent match with the fried cod on top. Onion salt is strong and savory. It reminds us of an onion soup packet. The resulting fry basket makes us think of sweet maui onion kettle chips.
For an experiment with salt mixology, we tried “wild jalapeño” mixed with “Bangkok ginger.” Garnished with julienne jalapeño peppers, the combination brought us to Asia. It is a great match for the daily tempura shrimp special. Some other salt flavors available for mixing are smoke, garlic, rosemary, truffle, and curry.
Dipping sauces are available as a more conventional way of seasoning your chips. The sauces aren’t as robust and unique as the salts, but they offer valuable lubrication. Chipotle ketchup and chipotle mayonnaise are made with chunks of chipotle chiles “en adobo” blended in. These are good, but they take too much away from the salt, so we used them sparingly.
Fish ‘n’ chips comes with four pieces of Atlantic cod fillet, fried golden and juicy. Shrimp come with chunky tempura batter. Both the fish and shrimp are tasty and we had no complaints about them, but they fry in the shadow of the world class chips — chips that are made legendary with a sprinkle of salt alchemy.