Whoops, I just realized the title pretty much gave the rating away. So for those of you who were just curious whether I liked this place or not, there’s your answer right there 😛 Now you can go do more important things, like twerking or something. I dunno.
I’ve always loved fish and chips. I first tasted this awesome comfort food when I was a wee lad growing up in Jakarta. Every so often, my parents would take me to go eat at some posh hotel’s restaurant or coffee shop. And the first dish I remembered ordering (I couldn’t have been older than 6-7 years old) was fish and chips. I fell in love almost instantly. The crisp batter, the flaky fish, and so much GORENG stuff served piping hot on my plate…it was all so beautiful. Dipped in creamy tartar sauce, I was hooked (pardon the pun).
I used to think that there’s no way anyone could mess this dish up. I mean for God’s sakes it’s fried fish and fried potatoes, how difficult could it get? But as I grew older, I sampled a few truly awful renditions of this food (fish that had the texture of leather? check; potatoes that were soggy and as big as wedges? check; tartar sauce that was warm? ew, checkity check) and fully saw, to my absolute horror, that you CAN make an absolute hash of it. As such, I realized that finding good, delicious fish and chips at a fair price is a lot harder than I thought in my naive childhood years.
Well, I think I may have just found my new favourite fish and chips place in Toronto. The best part? It’s (only) about a 20 minute drive from my place!
The first thing that came across my mind when I saw the restaurant was the name. No, not the “High Street” part. That part’s fine. It’s the “Fish, Chips, and” part. Huh. Seemed like an incomplete sentence to me. Was this a clever marketing ploy to get people in the restaurant or was the sign placer (is that even what you call these guys?) hopelessly dyslexic? Alas, I was told that it was because the restaurant serves up fish and chips…..and much more! Ah. I see what you did there.
The menu selection was certainly impressive. Not only do they have the regular selection of whitefish, cod, haddock, or halibut; they also had a smorgasbord of other old-school British food. From chicken pot pies to steak and kidney pies to Cornish pasties, they certainly justify having that “and” in their name! And speaking of old-school British, the atmosphere and clientele certainly support that notion. The place is a modernized former pub which is now spacious and welcoming, and the other patrons were mostly very expat-like (in other words, we were the only peoples who regularly eat rice with our meals). But it was a wonderful experience, a little snapshot of old-time Toronto, before the present-day immigration deluge from Asia and the Middle East came and gave us other excellent delicacies like Peking Duck, shawarmas, myself, and Russell Peters.
I ordered the whitefish for my fish and chips, and WW ordered the chicken pot pie. I received some flak about my decision to forego having halibut, but there’s something I’ve always loved about whitefish (or pollock, in this case). Many people love halibut for its “meatier” texture, which I completely understand, but I’ve always loved the buttery smoothness of whitefish. I was hoping for more of the same. WW tried the chicken pie as it had been touted by many to be one of the restaurant’s specialties. And the best part? All the food can be ordered sans chips. Since I always found that I have way too much chips on my plate, we just shared one order, which the staff were kind enough to split into our separate plates. Nice touch!
The fish was beautiful. It was lightly battered, which was perfect for me as I hate overcrisped fish batter (when the colour is dark brown, that’s not a good thing kids). Its texture was so smooth it was almost buttery. The chips were also of a decent size and, though there was nothing spectacular about them, were far from the worst I’ve ever had (and were in fact, much better than I expected). The chicken pie was also similarly delicious. It wasn’t overflowing with thick gravy on the inside, but it was still moist and very tasty. I loved the irregular shape of the pie itself, as it shows that it was truly handmade (as opposed to the perfect shapes you get when you buy a Swanson’s frozen dinner pie or summat like that).
Now normally I wouldn’t add a dessert to a meal of fried goodies as it seems like overkill. But the staff were so heavy in promoting the sticky toffee pudding that I simply had to give it a shot. It came in a small little bowl and had fresh cream on the side. And while it was certainly on the small side, the owner said that the richness of the dessert will make it a good sharing dish. The taste, I have to say, was out of this world. It was sweet and rich, with a moist sponge cake that soaks up all that lovely cream. It was RIDICULOUSLY good that it should be illegal. I will say that it was probably the best new dessert (new to me, at least) that I tried in the last couple of years.
High Street is a cute throwback to how I imagine simple chip shops used to be. It is unabashedly very Anglo-centric in its offering, which is a wonderful thing, and the whole feel of the restaurant is wonderful. It’s welcoming, friendly, and definitely a place you’d want to bring your family to. They also do crazy amounts of takeout orders, which is why the restaurant is set up in a rather peculiar way, with a semi-tall wall creating an alley for people to queue and pick up their orders while not interrupting the coziness of the sit-down portion of the dining area. Brilliant. They’re closed on Sundays and Mondays, mind you, so plan accordingly. Other than that, the only thing I find lacking at this place is deep fried Mars bars (oooooh). Aside from that, FULL MARKS. Fish, chips, and INDEED!
–Final verdict: Mari Makan!
High Street Fish and Chips
55 Underhill Drive
Toronto, ON M3A 2J7