Trailer-Made: Bits & Druthers

By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 11.03.11
2012 UPDATE: The East Side Drive In where the Bits & Druthers trailer operated has shut down, and the owners of Bits and Druthers have decided to close and sell the trailer.
The best way to absorb the experience at the Bits & Druthers trailer is the fish and chips supper ($9). You’ll recognize the big piece of fish as fish, with big flakes and layers of snow-white haddock wrapped like phyllo in batter the color of baklava. It crackles, shatters and holds together just enough for the fish to stay in place rather than slide out the other end like a burrito on an Oxi-Clean commercial.
There’s oil, yes, but there’s more of it on the paper cone than on your fingertips. The fries seem like the bagged kind, but they’re fried tan and crisp and sprinkled with fat crystals of salt. And let’s stop to appreciate how precise of an art good frying is, and then let’s agree that pulling it off in a trailer the size of two pickup beds is commendable.
With the full supper, you get vinegar coleslaw in excelsior threads, dressed with mustard seeds, plus radish, cornichons and pickled shallot. It’s an upwardly mobile companion bowl for the working-class fish and chips, a solid marriage.
And while you ponder the trailer’s Union Jack front, like the camper a Mini Cooper might pull, order some curry sauce ($1) for your chips, the English hybrid way. It’s yellowish brown and skins over like stubborn sausage gravy, but it glows with curry spice and leaves some heat behind. For the fish, a housemade tartar sauce suits its more delicate constitution, and it’s not just a throwaway. Indulge.
The East Side Drive In is among the more dynamic food courts in town, meaning that the trailers play musical chairs, and the cast is always on the move. Pig Vicious is here, and the Vegan Yacht, plus a taco truck, Love Balls Japanese street snacks and a few places I’ve never seen open. The newest is a wood-fired pizza truck called Firefly Pies. The Mati Greek Food trailer serves keftedes, souvlaki and a steady stream of reggae. Of course.
Bits & Druthers gives you a few unlikely ways to finish your lunch. One is called the Eton Mess ($4), a half-frozen mashup of whipped cream, meringue, washed-out strawberry topping and ice cream that tastes halfway between soft-serve vanilla and sour cream. The dish lives up to its name, although Eton might like to have its dignity back. The lime sorbet ($3), on the other hand, is a moist towelette for your palate, a frozen pucker of tight crystals as white as freezer frost to the eye but green as a grocery bin of limes in the mouth, the right astringent punch to break down the oil and take the edge off the curry. You’ll come out the other side clean and refreshed.
Bits & Druthers
1000 E. Sixth St. at the East Side Drive In. 361-850-0645,
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. 6 to 10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)