One thing I love about a small town is the parking. Locals tend to walk or bike everywhere so parking is abundant, and often without a fee. Even in the core of the town, like we were today, there were no meters and no need to pay. There was hidden parking stalls in the back, specifically labelled for the restaurant, but there wasn’t a need for them. There were plenty of available parking even closer to the entrance. We pulled over at the adjacent park.
I always think, a place must do well for themselves if they are able to sell their own apparel to a willing market. Not only do they make a profit, they now have people advertising for them. Walking billboards. The cashier was wearing their branded bandana. And around her hanging off the counter were their similarly branded toques, hoodies, wind breakers, and anything else you would need in the varying climate of Tofino. Each with their name and some with their logo stitched on. There logo was an animated fish skeleton flexing his well defined bicep.
The space had a back yard feel to it. Its perimeter was gated up with a wall separating it from the home on its right. On this fence were fake portholes, like that on the hull of a ship. Instead of a pane of glass the circular wood and metal bits surrounded a mirror. Christmas lights, colourful reflective glass, and Canadian flags also decorated the scene. Amongst all this music from an old radio, crackled. It reminded me what you would hear at a hut on the beaches of California on a hot dry day, or anywhere equally warm and even a bit more tropical. The country twang and classic rock ballads, reflected the slower paced life. It set the tone, even though the cloud and sun on this less sunny day wouldn’t.
You approach the hut, walking along a planked path, to order. This isn’t the place to come for those who don’t like seafood. A body length menu listed all the various fish they fry up and how they are able to serve it to you. Cod, halibut, salmon, and tuna. Fried on platters, fried in burgers, and fried and cut up in tacos. Of course the classic fish and chip combo was ever present, giving you choices between pieces and type of fish, but in addition offering oysters and prawns in various preparation as well. From butterfly to coconut crusted, and in popcorn sized bites. If you are looking for something more heartier, you can have your deep fried fish in tacos or sandwiches, or in between burger buns with various condiments. But the regular veggie, beef, and chicken fillings were also available for your chosen platform as well. They even have a surf and turf burger with beef and tempura shrimp for those who wanted their burgers with a twist. For snacks they have sides like French fries, deep fried pickles, and onion rings; and their take on poutine is called “messy fries” with the same cheese and gravy recipe, except the gravy is on the side. Something I noticed off another diner’s plate.
You help yourself to a bevy of condiments on the side or grab any bottle from the tool box caddy at each table.
My partner was forced to have a hot dog with ketchup and mayo as he doesn’t eat seafood and has been having burgers for his last few meals. It was pretty standard. Tried and true. They cut the wiener in half to get an even cook on each side.
I had the one piece cod fish with chips. It came with a bonus deep fry pickle chunk. From the temperature and the need to blow on your food before eating it, you cold tell this entire basket was fried to order. I was most impressed by my piece of cod bring severed as a singular long rod. There was a lot here, more value than what I was expecting. I can only imagine how it was dipped into the deep fryer with a slow ease. I had plenty of time to admire its impressiveness. It was so hot that I had to wait to eat, or else burn my tongue. For one piece they were generous with the tartar sauce, which in my opinion is what makes a good fish and chips dish. But I somehow still ran out. The fish was crisp with its light batter, and only slightly oily. The grease was well tempered by the chunky and tangy tartar. You could easily make out the pleasant picking in it. The chewy chips were less fried, they offered a nice break from the moist and crunchy fish. The deep fried pickle segment was battered in the same herbed crust as the fish. It was hot and juicy at its centre, but I found it too briny for my liking. Too much pickle to batter ratio.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
It was good. The fish was fresh and the novelty of having seafood caught by those living and working in town, from just off coast is a unique experience. It made things all the more enjoyable. I enjoyed what I had, and would not be opposed to returning to try their other catches deep fried and dipped into tartar. Don’t deny your cravings.