Fish & chips are one of those dishes that when they’re good, it changes your life, and when they’re bad ruins your day. And so often they’re mediocre.
I had the pleasure of being invited to a media dinner with fellow food bloggers at Sea Witch Fish & Chips, located just west of St. Clair and Bathurst. Owned by Kevin Kowalczyk, who has more than a decade of experience from Penrose Fish & Chips, and passionate wife Jacki Strahl, the restaurant focuses on a concise menu with everything made from scratch. You can choose from halibut, pickerel, haddock, cod, and arctic char, all of which are available in a sandwich or with a humongous portion of fresh-cut fries. Since opening over a year ago, they have garnered positive reviews from happy customers lining up out the door, as well as The Globe and Mail restaurant critic Chris Nuttall-Smith.
Our dinner began with The Witch’s Brew, their house chowder ($6). Thick and chunky, with fresh pepper on top, and depth of flavour. I’m not a chowder conoisseur myself, but it got us off to a great, albeit filling, start. The Halibut Cakes ($10) were second, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Then it was time for the halibut. Boasting as one of the only places in the city that fries in beef tallow instead of vegetable oil, the fish comes with a golden crust with thick crispy edges, and a delicious taste that puts others to shame. Full fat, real taste. They’re Ocean Wise partners, so a portion of all their fish is from sustainable, local sources like Pickerel from Lake Erie. Their tartar sauce was my favourite, made in-house from scratch daily. You could taste the difference. And to top it off, there was a serving of more chips than I could eat in one sitting: a mountain of freshly-cut thick fries with skin on the edges. I had to take some leftovers home, and even the next day it was just as good.
The onion rings though, are surprisingly what will definitely bring me back. Served in a tall stack, they use a similar batter to the fish. They taste the way onion rings should taste. Best I’ve ever had.
Sea Witch Fish & Chips
636 St Clair Avenue West
Toronto, ON M6C 1A9