Mr.Pickwick’s Fish and Chips – Vancouver, BC

Mr.Pickwick’s Fish and Chips
8620 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 266 2340

Mr Pickwick's Fish & Chips (Granville) on Urbanspoon

To me, in many ways, restaurants can themselves almost be thought of as people. They each have their own personalities, special abilities, unique characteristics, and even credentials. I suppose in some ways, all of the things that you read and hear before your first visit, do help to shape your impressions as if the restaurants were an actual human being that you are interviewing for a job in your company.  I’d like to ask our readers, how much stock do you put in all the accolades that restaurants receive through more “official” channels such as local print and online media, in doing your “reference checks”?

Personally, I’ve always taken these with a grain of salt, or two.  Or three… well, you get the point.  Especially when they are overtly displayed inside the establishment (okay, one or two clippings I don’t mind, but more than that and all framed with pride – a bit overboard) and/or digitized and clearly displayed on their website.  If you’re like me, then Mr. Pickwick’s Fish and Chips might not be called in for an “interview”, as their small space (one of two in the city) was covered in framed certificates from sources such as the Georgia Straight, The WestEnder, and other local business and tourist organizations.  The fact that the business also had a human face associated on all of their branding and signage, made it all the more “personal” – which I think contributed to me feeling like I was not going to like this “person”.

The order board that hangs above the main counter had sort of a retro look with the old school fonts and magnets that are used to list items and their accompanying prices.  The lit up photos of their most popular fish and chips combos, just your regular run-of-the-mill fast food variety.  Being able to see entirely into the small kitchen and prep area, made me think of those narrow spaces that some of those french fry specialty places in shopping malls operate out of.  I’m not sure how it is every day or during more busier times, but the space was occupied by a single person who was doing the phone answering/order taking/frying and bagging duties all alone.

The menu featured the standard choices of fish in the cod (source: North Pacific; incidentally I believe its the eastern Atlantic cod that is facing extinction), halibut (source: Queen Charlotte Islands), haddock and salmon.  These could be ordered as 1pc, 2pc, 3pc and even 10pc sets.  You can also “mix and match” by selecting the West Coast (halibut & salmon), East West (haddock & halibut) or Whitefish (cod/haddock/halibut) set deals. As well, there were other seafood options such as oysters, prawns, clam strips and popcorn shrimp.  Further, probably in an attempt to differentiate themselves, there was a section called “sides and treats” which featured yam chips, poutine, “Newfie” chips, deep fried dill pickles, Mushy peas, and even a Deep Fried Mars Chocolate Bar!

In the end, I went with the tried and true cod and in a hungry mood chose the 3pc set ($10.98).  Personally I find the fattier, buttery texture of cod which “flakes” in larger pieces better and is more pleasing in deep fried food like this, as compared to say halibut (which I tend to associate more as a grilled fish).   The batter was indeed light and crispy as advertised, and I was quite glad as there is nothing worst than a thick, cake-y layer of  deep fried batter that seems more thicker than the actual fillet of fish inside.  The side chips were similarly light but still crispy and definitely not over-fried.  They were not really seasoned however, but I suppose that’s what the self serve packs of salt and pepper were for, but would have hoped they would have done it when they came out of the oil nice and hot, so that it would adhere better.

The tartar sauce which they dub as Rayana’s Tartar Sauce was fairly standard and nothing too different from many other tartar sauces I’ve had over the years with fish and chips.   They did give me a generous two portions with my order though, and two slices of lemons in my take-out order, that was wrapped up in a large sheet of paper and placed in a bio-degradable plastic bag.  I think Mr. Pickwick’s Fish and Chips are playing up their efforts for sustainability, as in the waiting area they had clearly displayed that they were involved in the Oceanwise sustainable seafood program, as well as working in a network called Green Table, which includes restaurants that are working to reduce their operations impacts on the environment… hence all that eco-friendly “packaging”.

I really need to do more exploring in Vancouver for comparable fish and chip offerings, as it seems thats my thing these days.  If you have any, please do drop me a note in the comments section, and I will be pleased to go try them out.

Mr Pickwick's Fish & Chips (Granville) on Urbanspoon

12 thoughts on “Mr.Pickwick’s Fish and Chips – Vancouver, BC

  1. At least there is one thing they seem to be doing well: being consistent. I had almost the exact same experience in their Downtown/West End location!

    As for fish and chip places, there is one place that a friend of mine swears by: Moby Dick Restaurant in White Rock ( I went with her last year and I found it was OK, not as good as she described. One thing I should mention about their menu: it seems you receive an additional piece with your order. Another place often mentioned is Cockney Kings Fish & Chips (two locations, one in Hastings and another in New West). I have been in the one in New West and found out they have all-you-can-eat on Mondays (cod only, in the AYCE, though). Again, I will blame the cod…

    Now, I must warn I am biased here, as I have been spoiled with the whole fried fish found in Panama. Unlike the batter usually used for fish-n-chips here, this fish is smothered with herbs and then lightly dusted with flour before frying. Sure, it might be overcooked but I am more than willing to take my chances.

  2. > KimHo

    Fantastic to hear, much appreciated. Looks like two places have two mentions already so will head my list going forward. The Panamanian version of whole fried fish sounds tantalizing. What is the common species of fish that is used for that there?

  3. The most popular fishes include corvina (a variety of bass), pargo (a form of red snapper, I think) and guabina (not sure about the English name equivalent). As a side note, in Panama, instead of chips/fries, fish is usually served with patacones – chunk of fried plantain, smashed (to flatten it) and then refried. OK, I am getting hungry here! ^_^

  4. Deep Fried Mars Bar! I know these can give people a shiver of disgust, but after finally having one at Sir Winston’s here in Edmonton…It was amazing. A perfect combination of melty chocolate, carmel and nougat sitting on a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

    That fish looks great. Thanks.

  5. > KimHo
    Sounds very appetizing! You need to make a visit back and post about it. 🙂

    > raidar

    I think I’ll take the savory over the sweet despite your strong thoughts on the Mars Bar. 🙂

  6. Steveston village in Richmond is a bit of a F&C mecca. That’s where one of Pajo’s outlets is located along with a few others. Worth the trek if you are a F&C aficionado.

  7. I’m with you – 99.9% of the time I’ll definitely choose savory. I’ve only had the DF Mars once, but like I said…it just captured the perfect desert moment. It could be the fact that I rarely order a desert, or I was easily won over after downing a pile Boddington’s…or maybe a combination of the two!

  8. My number 1 f & c place is Pajo’s in Steveston, hands down. (Btw, I have also tried the pajo’s at Garry Pt and Pt Moody). It’s got the best atmosphere and nothing beat’s a floating restaurant besides a fishing wharf on a sunny day. I also like the way they wrap it british style, in newsprint.

    The batter is light and I love the juicy, smooth texture of the halibut fresh off the boat, so it’s worth the extra money you pay. Their chips are also hand-cut daily. I usually eat at Pajo’s a couple of times during the summer. It’s an absolute summer essential/ritual for me. You just have to be prepared for the long line-ups of tourists and locals, which is actually part of the fun as you anticipate how yummy it will taste as you wait. I have tried a lot of f & c places from Vancouver, Seattle, Hawaii, and all the way to New Zealand, and this is still my favourite place.

    Second, I guess is Go Fish. It’s a little more upscale take-out and I actually prefer their fresh fish tacones more than their f & c as their batter is heavier than pajo’s. Their daily fish soups are also outstanding and make a nice change from chips. If you luck out, you may find parking at the wharf but walking to Granville Island will help you burn off those calories. It’s a small place, so seating can get kind of tricky, but you can always to choose to sit beside a pond off one of the nearby condos.

  9. > gastronomydomine
    2nd vote coming in for Pajo’s, not really in that area at all, but if I am will make sure to drop by.

    > raidar

    Boddington’s and its distinct colorful can, love it! It will probably take a few of those to get me to try the deep fried Mars Bar too. 🙂

    > holly

    Appreciate the detailed impressions on both Pajo’s and Go Fish! I think if I do go the halibut route, then Pajo’s in the summer it is for me.

    > are you gonna eat that
    The votes are flooding in now, Pajo’s is a must for me. Sounds like a usually non-sweets person must eventually get to this chocolaty delight, given all the kudos here.

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