Monday, November 5, 2012

Reduce your expectations for Fish Shack

The Fish Shack on UrbanspoonThe Fish Shack is another restaurant by the Glowbal Collection, who have other lovely restaurants like Black + Blue and Italian Kitchen. It replaces the rather interesting menu of Sanafir with a lineup of fish and chips and shellfish, and I'm actually rather sad about that.

Also, with various other classy restaurants to its name, I really struggled with my expectations for The Fish Shack. Would it be jazzed up fish and chips? Is that even possible? Fortunately, I was dining with someone who gently reminded me that fish and chips is fish and chips, and location, ambiance, and decor all have a cost that trickles down to the customer. She also thought the prices quite reasonable/cheap, hence the late 20's / early 30's crowd. Our very light dinner for two including one glass of wine and one non-alcoholic beverage came to $33.99 after tip but before tax.

I can't say I really like the decor much. Using pallets for the walls... Hmm... Also, restaurants really, really, need to stop using mason jars as glasses. It's like someone couldn't find you a glass and dusted off an old jam jar instead.
The room was super-packed. Reservations ate up all the tables but bar seating was still first-come first-served, thankfully, so if you are a very small group of 1-4, you might be able to squeeze in there, and as a bonus (or, "bonus") you get to watch them steam clams and shuck oysters all night. Sort of like sitting at the bar in a sushi restaurant.
With so many people squashed in there, and music played loudly enough to be heard over all of them, The Fish Shack is a very noisy place and I walked out to discover my ears buzzing. As it was I had to lean in close to hear anything my dining companion said.
  • Amuse Bouche (complimentary, and it shows on the bill as $0)
    • We didn't get any! Oops. I think it was supposed to be chowder in a tiny sour dough bowl, and the two diners next to us at the bar got one each, but none for us! Boo.
    • In fact, the server did offer it to us initially, but we thought it was an order of clam chowder and since we didn't order it, we just told her it wasn't our order. I don't recall anyone telling us it was complimentary. I'll chalk this one up to it being a super busy night.
  • Sardines ($9.95)
    • When we went last Friday night, deep fried sardines with fries and red onion coleslaw was the special, as they happened to get some nice big sardines (about 7 inches). Don't expect to find this on the regular menu.
    • For $9.95, you get one (1) sardine. It is skinned and turned inside out. The spine is removed, and you basically are meant to eat the whole thing, though having done so, I recommend that you remove the head, because the oil can really get inside the exposed gills and what not, and it turned out feeling and tasting oily with no upside of any interesting flavour.
    • Tartar sauce, a moderate amount of chips, and a tiny side of coleslaw rounded off this plate. compared to their fish and chips, this comes is on par as their 1-piece fish and chips is mostly $10-$12 with tartar sauce, chips, and coleslaw. Price-wise I guess it's on par with other fish and chips places.
    • Fries were really decently done. Didn't taste like only-fried-once quickies.
    • Nothing too special here. Also, not super-battered like a regular order of fish and chips, so you get to clearly see you're having sardine.
  • Steamed Clams in Thai broth ($15/pound)
    • If they don't hand you a bowl or the shells, ask for something.
    • There are three types of soup your mollusks could be swimming in. The Thai one we chose was okay with our clams, but you really needed to drink it straight to appreciate its full flavour and bite from the chili. As soups go, it was quite delicious and if you order this I recommend you save room to drink it all up. Could definitely have used some bread to go with it, and if they can get you enough of it to decently soak up the soup, this would make a pretty filling meal.
    • As steamed clams go, this is just steamed clams.
  • New York Style Cheesecake ($8.50) graham cracker crust, berry coulis
    • We were assured all desserts were made "in-house" -- by which he meant they were made by dessert chefs who were part of the Glowbal Group. It's possible that with so many restaurants downtown, these were made elsewhere and carted over en masse.
    • This was in a short glass jar and the portion you get does work out to approximately 1 thin slice in volume.
    • As cheesecakes go, this was really quite nice. The cheese portion was maybe softer and creamier than a typical slice of cheesecake, and may not have worked out so well if it weren't all contained a little glass jar.
Overall the food is properly prepared and pretty basic. There's nothing special here about the food. If you walk in, you should expect nothing more than a decent fish and chips type restaurant with decent service. We were at the bar so I couldn't really evaluate the service of the regular waitstaff. The oyster expert right in front of us, Todd, was attentive to us and the nearby tables, however, instead of simply being absorbed in assembling oyster platters.

No comments:

Post a Comment