Go Fish – Vancouver, BC


Go Fish Ocean Emporium
1505 W 1st Avenue
Vancouver, BC
(604) 730-5040

“Thirty minute wait for anything fried and ten minutes for the grilled items”.  That’s what was being hollered out to the still not fully depleted lineup as the last business hour of the day approached this fine sunny weekend day.   With hungry bellies, our rat pack of five quickly huddled and decided we’d opt for the healthier and quicker grilled menu choices, and that was by no means a default as these creations as you’ll see here did not disappoint or a downgrade to the more popular deep fried dishes like their fish ‘n chips.

In reality, the wait was indeed longer than advertised, but I assumed their time clock began once they could actually begin cooking your order, and not from the point of time when the order was actually received and paid for at the til.  But with the nearby bench seating providing a view like this, the clock moving slowly isn’t all bad…

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Icelandic Fish and Chips Organic Bistro – Reykjavik, Iceland


Icelandic Fish and Chips Organic Bistro
Tryggvagötu 8 / 101 Reykjavik
+(354) 511-1188

Food in Iceland lacks a definite diversity. With little arable land, and short growing seasons, there is a definite lack of vegetables. Greenhouses powered by geothermal energy provide the majority of the fresh local produce, and the rest is imported. However, what they lack in vegetables, they make up for in abundance with fish. Their coastal waters are some of the richest in the world, and makes up 70% of their exports – this is an island where fish and fishing mean a lot.

While there are an abundance of fresh fish, that doesn’t guarantee a great meal. Transforming that ingredient into something tasty lies in the hands of the chef.  At Icelandic Fish and Chips, they have it figured out.

Across from the harbour in Reykjavik, Icelandic Fish and Chips bills itself as an organic bistro. Their menu is basic – they offer 3-4 fish of the day, whatever was caught that morning, and some basic sides like salad, fries, onion rings, and baked goods. Prices are very reasonable – fish falls between 1000 ISK and 1300 ISK – comparatively cheap relative to other restaurants in Reykjavik.

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Joe’s Atlantic Grill – Port Moody, BC


Joe’s Atlantic Grill
2410 St. John’s Street
Port Moody, BC
(604) 931-8765

Unfamiliar town.  No map.  One main street.

Sounds like a perfect recipe for either a wonderful random discovery or a tremendous let down.  “Wonder what it will be this time” I thought, after we parked the car and did a quick walk along St. John’s Street.  Passing by the Caribbean-flavoured Rehanah’s Roti, spotting the Filipino Rosario and seeing a ubiquitous Japanese restaurant during our stroll, we quickly nixed the ethnic options for something a little more closer to home.

As we came to Joe’s Atlantic Grill that resides in an older building in this part of Port Moody, on what seems to be the major thoroughfare that cuts through this community, we scanned inside as well as the posted menu by their door and figured it couldn’t hurt.  Some late-morning grub/early lunch was what we wanted and it seemed safe enough.

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Captain Bob’s – Woodstock, NB


Captain Bob’s Takeout
3512, Rte 585
Woodstock, New Brunswick

Traveling along the Trans-Canada Highway we left the province of Quebec and entered into New Brunswick.  After quick stops in Edmundston and Grand Falls, we decided to take more scenic secondary highways and visit some of the many small towns along the  St. John River.  After we crossed the longest covered bridge in Hartland a couple times, this sign on the road caught my eye.

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Just in time for lunch – we followed the cookie crumb trail of signs to this shack parked in the driveway of Captain Bob’s home.  A couple of kids were already ahead of us and had ‘honked’ (as per the posted directions) to let the Captain know of our arrival.

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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

Captain Scotts Fish and Chips – Calgary, AB


Captain Scotts Fish and Chips
76-55 Castleridge Boulevard NE
Calgary, AB T3J 3J8
(403) 280-0009

Captain Scotts Fish & Chips on Urbanspoon

Today is more about food, than than any “osophy”. For some reason, i have writers block. I feel repetitive. Any other blog writers ever encounter this? Any solution that doesn’t involve emptying my bottle of gin?

I’ve been exploring the NE a lot lately – mostly because it’s one of those areas I find i’ve neglected for too long. Lots of interesting places – ethnic and otherwise – a drive into every neighbourhood yields a new adventure.

I’d first heard mention of Captain Scotts when involved in a discussion about Captain’s Fish and Chips. I kept confusing the two, and couldn’t keep them separated. It’s located in the same mall as Nirvana, Bombay Sweet House, The Village, and a variety of other East Indian eateries. Makes it a bit easier to find – it definitely sticks out like a sore thumb. 

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The decor is clean and simple. You order from a counter in the back, and sit in a cafeteria like setting. While there is nothing notable about the interior, there isn’t the oily residue on table surfaces and walls that places a little less meticulous often have.

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In terms of a menu, it’s very simple. A wide variety of fish, including Cod, Haddock, Halibut, and Boston Blue, and a bunch of seafood choices – shrimp, scallops, clams. They have some salads and desserts, but to be honest, in a restaurant where everything is deep fried, neither of these really appeal. Prices are pretty reasonable – 1pc fish and chips start at $6.95.

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Unfortunately, the fish is pretty poor. The fish was dry,there was too much batter on an otherwise small piece of fish, and the oil had a definite funk to it. Old oil that really needed to be changed. Condiments came in plastic packages – tartar by Heinz. The coleslaw was slightly mushy and mostly cream – no acidity, no flavour.

On the plus side, the fries were excellent. Fried in what i would guess is a different fryer (no fish-smell contamination), they are crispy, hot, and toothsome. With malt vinegar on every table, and a generous amount of salt, they were an excellent order of fries.

No matter how good the fries are, fish is a pretty critical component to fish and chips. While i may go back occasionally for the fries, i’d skip the fish. Captains, in Brentwood, is much better.

Captain Scotts Fish & Chips on Urbanspoon

Red Sea Fish and Chips – Calgary, AB


Red Sea Fish and Chips
2 – 4105 4th Street NW
Calgary, Alberta T2K 1A3
403.289.9904
Open noon-8:00pm Tue/Wed/Thu, 4:00pm-9:00pm Fri/Sat/Sun

September 2008 re-visit post here

Original post below:

There is this old saying about not eating seafood if you cannot see the ocean. While this was a good rule of thumb back in the day, modern transportation has made previous luxuries, like fresh fish and seafood, fairly commonplace on the prairies. And while there are a variety of ways of preparing seafood, deep frying is definitely one of my favorites.

Deep frying in general has an unfairly earned, negative reputation. While many people immediately dismiss deep frying as “greasy”, and “unhealthy”, this is actually the combination of miseducation, and years of eating poorly executed deep fried foods. In actual fact, deep frying is not inherently any worse than many other cooking techniques. The key is, food has to be deep fried at the right temperature, sealing all the moisture the food releases in, while not having the item in question absorbing a lot of oil. The amount of surface area, coating/batter, density, and moisture content all have a significant impact on the overall product as well. And when you’re talking fish and chips, this can result in some really great fish, or some terrible fish.

Red Sea Fish and Chips brands themselves as an authentic “British AND East Coast” fish and chips restaurant. I think the British part is because they serve mushy peas. In my visits to the UK, I have to say, I wasn’t particularly thrilled with their fish and chips. It was usually fried in oil far too low in temperature. The newspaper is a nice touch, but there was not anything particularly amazing about the fish and chips there. Especially the chips, which were soggy and gross.

From a service perspective – it is definitely a maritime kind of place. Friendly, outgoing, and chatty, they are proud of what they serve, and work hard to make you feel at home. The decor itself is a bit tacky. A strong maritime theme, there’s no mistaking what they serve. Primarily blue, maritime accouterments and flags hang on the wall. This is not a homey kind of feel, but more of a “crazy grandmother and her antiques” kind of feel. But personally, I don’t really care. I am all about the fish. And the chips.

You don’t go to a chippie to eat the decor. You go to eat the fish. On the menu is a wide variety of options. Pollock, Haddock, Halibut, and, ironically enough, Cod – ironic in the sense that they have pamphlets for the Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise program for eating sustainable fish seafood next to the cash register, but they still serve cod. Other options include seafood chowder, and a variety of accompaniments including mushy peas. Normally, I am a big fan of halibut, but being in between meals, i opt for the one-piece cod.

There isn’t much to say about Red Sea. The fish is very good. Cod is flaky, tender, and with a great toothsome chew. The piece isn’t over battered, and the batter itself is fairly inert (I prefer a touch seasoned). The color of the piece is a bit light – meaning the oil is fairly clean, and has been changed (or strained at a minimum) regularly. I personally think the temperature of the oil could’ve been a few degrees higher, but this was definitely within my limits of “good”. Next time, I’m definitely trying the Halibut.

The fries were excellent. Fresh cut, they were fried past soggy, near crisp with a great bite, filled with a soft potato flavour. Skins left on, as a good friend of mine always says, “I (was) really digging the fries”. Especially since they had malt vinegar on the table – a necessary accompaniment to fresh fries. The coleslaw was homemade, and good, but please don’t take my word for it – i am not the biggest fan of coleslaw. Lastly, the tartar sauce. I definitely fall into the sacrilegious category of liking tartar for my fish. And it was homemade as well. Red Sea Fish and Chips is all about the homemade. Not quite enough tang for my liking, but it definitely did the job.

At $8.95 for a piece of cod, this wasn’t the best deal going. However, with rising oil prices, it is not out of line with other fish prices in town. The quality of the fish, the friendliness of the service, and most importantly, the attention to detail in the things that matter, make this my favorite fish and chips location in town. Many people like Boyds, Trawlers, Joey’s, or Captain Scott’s, but dollar for dollar, i would choose to eat at Red Sea Fish and Chips over any of the other options. Not because of the service, and definitely not because of the decor – but because they do a great product. And based on the hordes of East Coast patrons, I clearly am not the only one who feels that way.

Red Sea Fish and Chips on Urbanspoon