When my family first moved from Edmonton to Ottawa, one of our regular weekend outings always included a trip to the fish market in Ottawa. As a kid, I remember distinctly loathing that fishy, sea-water smell of the fish market, the wetness of the floor, and simply how slimy you feel whenever we visited it. However, the fresh fish my parents would pick out for dinner (done Vietnamese style of course!) was always worth it and my brother and I almost always got a fish and chips for lunch as a special treat. The fish and chips were always moist, flaky, and perfectly battered and held its own against the vicious amount of ketchup only a seven-year old would use. Thus, when our good friend invited us to the Billingsgate Fish Market on a Groupon, I was more than happy to join him despite the poor showing of only 68% on Urbanspoon.
When we first walked into Billingsgate Fish Co., we were all hit by the overwhelming odour of fish and seafood. While I had braced myself for that, having had numerous experience as a child, Billingsgate's fishiness had a certain has-been-lying-out-too-long quality. Walking through the front door of a "fish market," I was definitely expecting a wide variety of fresh and/or live seafood; instead, what we found was three empty fish tanks and a measly selection of rather limp looking fish, shellfish, and king crab legs.
The front counter featured specials of the day (which happened to be pasta that day) and the rest of their menu on a large chalkboard menu-board. My companion settled on the special of the day Salmon Pasta, while my friend and I settled on the Fish and Chips and Oyster and Chips, respectively. I had originally wanted the Steelhead Trout - a fish very similar to salmon - but they were unfortunately out of Steelhead for the day (not surprisingly, given their empty display windows). We ordered a few drinks to go along with our meal and settled down while the waiter (who also informed us he was the cook) brought out our drinks and food. The cafe itself was quite nice, with a high ceiling in the dining area emulating the inside of a lighthouse. It even had corny (though I enjoyed them) sea-themed accents such as fishing nets, lobster traps, and ships which lined the walls of the "lighthouse." There were large windows which allowed ample sunlight for all the diners to enjoy, and you could tell that in its prime, Billingsgate Fish Co. was probably the go-to restaurant for casual lunches and seafood cravings.
|Oyster and Chips|
|Pasta Special of the Day|
Finally, I was able to sample Eat Cook Dream's Fish and Chips ($10.95). The fish and chips were nicely battered and cooked well, though nothing special. The tartar sauce had a nice sweet and sour combination and I found the acidity of the tartar sauce highlighted the flaky fish fairly well. The French fries, again, were soggy, starchy and under-salted (at least they're consistent...). Despite being a pretty mediocre dish (disappointing considering it was from a fish market), in comparison to the other two dishes, this was my favourite dish of the night.
|Fish and Chips|
Top Pick of the Night: Fish and Chips