- The Entree
- The Sides
- The Atmosphere
Fry some fish and fry some potatoes. You would think that these two tasks are child’s play and anyone could do it; after all, it’s really just battered fish and some fries on the side, right? Oddly enough, even in a sprawling city like Toronto with a population of 2,500,000, it’s difficult to find someone who can whip up a classic batch of fish & chips (referred to as “F&C” henceforth) that’s oily, fishy, and tasty. It confuses me as to why I, like many others, enjoy eating F&C because it’s essentially a calorific explosion of lard and sodium. Wait, maybe that’s why it’s so popular – it’s lard and sodium. Strangely enough, I catch myself secretly desiring a plate of F&C every so often, which is the reason why I visited The One That Got Away with some friends after work. I thought this would be a good opportunity to indulge.
581 King Street West
Toronto, ON M5V 1M1
A bunch of us headed over at around 7pm last Thursday. Frankly speaking, we were all just glad to finally step out of the office – away from the cubicle – to enjoy the beautiful weather. The air was fresh, the sun was hovering above the horizon and everyone was already on a patio as we stepped off the 504 streetcar. My first glimpse of the restaurant was its logo – a curvaceous mermaid relaxing on the beach. It was a fitting logo for a place that sold fish. I noticed several people already nibbling at their meals as we walked in, many of whom looked like locals stopping by for a quick bite before heading home. There were a few others idling around waiting for their takeout. The interior was modest but charming, giving off a cozy and homey feel. After people-watching, we perused the menu that happened to be written on a chalkboard. There was a wide selection available with multiple F&C choices, as well as other options of crab cakes, calamari and a salmon burger. Prices are average but leaning towards the pricier end. The bills ranged from $17 to $22, with the latter including a bottle of water. For a drop-in plate of F&C, I’d say this was slightly overpriced – just my opinion.
The menu options were adequate, with five fishes to choose from: haddock, arctic char, cod, halibut, and pickerel. I chose the cod, but I tried some of the others from my friends’ plates. All the F&C plates came with a rather large piece of fish with a battered shell – the batter was lightly flavoured and subtle, allowing the fish flavour to last through each bite. The chef did a good job here by carefully controlling the thickness of the batter to leave only a thin crispy layer atop the cod. I tried the plates individually to get a taste of each, and after a gruelling session of nipping my tongue, I came to the non-scientific conclusion that as the price went up, the more tender the fish. Simple, right? The haddock was a bit chewier, whereas the arctic char melted in my mouth. The cod was right in the middle of the two. Depending on how you like your fish, pick and pay accordingly. I particularly enjoyed the arctic char because the fish meat was soft, fresh and juicy. The fries were good. Not great.
On the side, I ordered a mango salsa and seafood chowder. If you really want mangoes, get the mango salad. But don’t be expecting much. It was disappointing because my wild imagination of what mango salsa should be was replaced with plain old diced mangos in a plastic cup sprinkled with some sliced onions. It was worth the 99 cents I guess. The seafood chowder was a good bang for the buck though. What it lacks in glamour and glitz was compensated by the pale chowder’s unassuming burst of flavour. It was smooth, creamy and quite filling. I’d say this would make a great snack in the late afternoon before dinner.
The overall impression of The One That Got Away was average. I might be the one to blame for this “okay” rating because the raving reviews from several friends pushed my expectations unbelievably high that were likely unattainable. With that said, I did particularly enjoy the seafood chowder. Three thumbs up for this one! The F&C plates were good so I’ll give 1.5 thumbs. Would I come back? Undecided.
The Damage: $18 after tax