Saturday, September 24, 2011

off the hook

Off The Hook is a self styled gourmet fish & chip shop that has opened up at Broadview & Danforth in the spot where Deep Blue (the restaurant, not the super computer) used to be. Living in the neighborhood & loving fish & chips as much as any right thinking English people, we tried many times to make it to Deep Blue, but you know how it is; you keep saying I'll go another day, I'll go another day, & when you finally make it, the place has been boarded up. Well we weren't about to let something like that happen to us again! Once we saw that Off The Hook had opened unexpectedly & with minimum fanfare it felt like being given a glorious second chance on life & we popped in one rainy Friday evening.

Just about the only visually pleasing aspect to the decor is the large chalkboard menu above the counter, half of which is pictured above. The remaining half has well priced fish sandwiches, a wide selection of poutines and for dessert, the infamous deep fried mars bar. On special they had fish tacos, which J is really hoping they have on offer next time they visit.

There are plenty of tables for those that want to dine in, & the take out was doing fairly brisk business too; perhaps too brisk, because the service we had was slow & unenthusiastic, or "traditional English style" if you want to put a positive spin on it. 

In all honesty, our expectations were not high, bitter experience having taught us that your chances of finding good fish & chips in Toronto are roughly akin to those of finding a delicate aesthete at a Nickleback concert. Maybe we've been spoiled having sat at Gods right hand & tasted the finest fish & chips anywhere in the world (Bizzie Lizzies, Skipton, UK in case you were wondering). Until recently we had found the fish and chips at Allen's to be the most palatable. However, on the last couple of visits there, the fish had been much smaller and the batter too thick and greasy. Not to mention, it's almost impossible to get a table if the patio isn't open. Not that they care, they know we'll come crawling back to them because the fries, (oh the fries!) are simply divine and really have to be tasted to be believed.

Anyway, last Friday at Off The Hook, J had the halibut, fresh cut fries & homemade tartar sauce & the halibut was almost as good as that incredible fish we had in the UK! The batter was crisp and the thinnest she had every tried. The portion of Halibut was huge, it was thick, flaky and ever so fresh. Every bite had J shaking her head in disbelief. The fries were fairly decent but the tartar was a bit too plain and mayonnaise-y for J's taste. She preferred L's chipotle mayo by far. 

L ordered the sea bass, sweet potato fries & chipotle mayo & had much the same experience as J. If they ever get around to adding "meh" to the Oxford English Dictionary, then flip to the definition & expect to see a picture of the sweet potato fries from Off The Hook. The sea bass though was out of this world, so much better than any other battered fish L has tasted anywhere in North America; like the gulf between Alexander Skarsgard & Rob Ford, technically they are both men but, well you get the idea...    

Conclusion: A visit here would be solely be for the fish. It's miles better than any other place we've tried including Chippy's, Allen's, The One That Got Away and Old Yorke Fish and Chips. Don't go if you're expecting great service, tasteful decor or thoughtful music, though having said that, it's fish & chips! Get over yourself!

Off The Hook on Urbanspoon

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