Q and I incorporate cheat days into our healthy eating plan because well, who the hell can eat perfectly all the time? Am I right? I’m even convinced there are late-night burger runs in Hollywood.
Recently Q and I were visiting Duncan, BC out on Vancouver Island and were in need of some grub. Seeing as we were on an island in the middle of the Pacific it seemed appropriate we seek out seafood. And of course, we were looking to be more naughty than nice on our lunch quest, so we scoured the town for food more fried than poached.
As luck would have it my eyes caught a glimpse of a place called Salty’s, causing us to rubberneck. Sure enough, it was what we thought it was. A fish and chip restaurant! Yeahhhh!!!
So when we stopped to grab ourselves a meal, we, of course, could not let a food review opportunity like this pass us by. As always, using our scoring system:
1 crap – can’t believe I actually walked in here; get up and leave
2 mediocre – not good enough; wouldn’t come back
3 satisfactory – was ok; may come back
4 really good – what you hope for and then some; would come back
5 exceptional – surprise, blow you away; don’t ever want to leave
Here is how Salty’s rated.
Service: Rated 3.5
Service was good. The waitress was attentive even though she was busy. We were met with a smile, our meals came as ordered and she was accommodating to Q’s constantly changing his mind on what he wants to eat.
Ambiance: Rated 4
The decor borders on Canadian diner with references of the UK from the decorative plates of the Royal family, British flag and colour schemes. The atmosphere pays tribute to the fish and chip’s English roots and meets your expectations of what an English Fish & Chip restaurant should look like. The only thing better would have been a darkened environment that would have given the place a pub feel which would make it more authentically British instead of Canadian.
Food: Rated 3
Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to love Salty’s I didn’t. Not that it was cooked incorrectly or tasted bad. None of it was awful or off-putting. But it wasn’t exceptional. It barely registered “good” on my scale. It was just ok. I’m not fond of heavy batter nor meaty fish and Salty’s fish, made with Atlantic cod, proved to be opposite of what my taste buds were salivating for. Another thing that I found completely puzzling was Salty’s choice to use Atlantic cod. I know in Britain fish & chips are regularly made with Atlantic cod. But here we were, right on the water’s edge of the Pacific Ocean. An ocean, I might add, that contains cod very similar in taste and texture and not as overfished as their Atlantic counterparts. I was disappointed. I was expecting fresh seafood and instead, I was getting days old fish because of the distance it had to travel. I would have preferred the use of Alaskan pollock. At least it would have had less distance to travel to my plate and be more authentic to where Salty’s resides – on Vancouver Island. While the decor may have paid tribute to the architects of the classic fish and chip, the use of another ocean’s fish was a discourtesy to the community where Salty’s decided to set up shop.
Price: Rated 2.5
Here was another area Salty’s disappointed. Q and I frequent a fish & chip restaurant in Ontario where we can order the exact same meal of fish and chips and pay under $20 combined. The cost pushing almost $60 at Salty’s with tip seemed rather steep but expected considering they were transporting fish from the other side of a rather large country.
Lily’s Total Score for Salty’s: 3.25
Service: Rated 3.5
Service was basic with no bells and whistles. The waitress was polite but unsocial. She was friendly but not personable.
Ambiance: Rated 3.5
Although not fine dining, the restaurant was pleasant and bright and what you’d expect from a fish and chip shop.
Food: Rated 4
The fries and peas were delicious. The coleslaw not so much as I found it kind of bland. The highlight was the fish. It was well cooked with a good, crispy batter and a familiar flavour. The use of cod was ok. You can also have halibut caught right off the shores of the west coast for something a little more local.
Price: Rated 2
The price was a bit ridiculous considering neither of us purchased the more expensive halibut but rather settled for the cod. In comparison, two nights later we ate steak and salmon entrees at a fine dining restaurant and the bill was only a mere $12 more. Fish and chips should not cost within the vicinity of a more upscale meal.
Q’s Total Score for Salty’s: 3.25
Although fish and chips appear to be a basic recipe, the differences in taste are evidenced in the use of beer, or not, the type of fish or oil used, or additional spices added. All of these things make for a unique experience at each restaurant. Where I may prefer batter, you may like breaded and neither is right or wrong. So if you are out in Duncan, BC on Vancouver Island and are fishing for a great place to get a bite – give Salty’s a try!
~True North Nomad
Do you like the classic Cod for your fish & chips or do you welcome a twist on this British staple? Tell us in the comments below.
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