Hooked on Buttery, Crunchy Fish n’ Chips, Grilled Fish & Salad and More – The One That Got Away Fish House on King West!

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The creamy, tangy taste of tartar sauce, the moist flakiness of fresh fish, and the delightful, delicious crunch of hot crispy batter straight out of the fryer – ah, the tastes of fish n’ chips, melting in your mouth.  I LOVE fish n’ chips.  Out of all the different types of classic pub fare out there, fish n’ chips is my ultimate favourite.  I don’t have it often.  Twice a year at best.  But when I do?  Heaven on earth.  And believe it or not, amazing fish n’ chips places are hard to find simply because not all fries are created equal (and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we’ve all had a less than stellar experience with subpar French fries at least once in our life) and some places just aren’t very, well, scenic.  I know we’re eating pub fare and all but I’d like to feel at least somewhat comfortable in a space that doesn’t look like a janitorial closet married a cheap take-out joint.

Lucky for me, I’ve had some fab experiences with great fish n’ chips and battered fish dishes in and around the city including my personal favourites, King’s Table on Queen East in the Beaches and Jakes Pub & Grille in Markham on Main Street Unionville.  The latest addition to the list?  The One That Got Away Fish House on King Street West!

Even though I’m introducing The One That Got Away for the first time on Ate by Ate, the fish house and I go much further back.  Over a year back.  Which actually isn’t that long ago, but you get the point.  I have such fond memories of my first few meals from here simply because I had them in the company of my fellow icing sugar queens during my time at Le Dolci!  The old studio was literally just around the corner off of King West and Portland Street so every now and then Lisa, Miya, and momma Dolci Linda (and later Irina) and I would grab some delicious fish n’ chips and fish meals from here for lunch.

I still remember the very first time I had fish from The One That Got Away.  It was my first day at the studio and the decision on what to eat for lunch was unanimous: fish!  We all ordered fresh grilled fish wraps with a side order of chips (fries) and thus began a beautiful friendship and journey, not just with the fish house, but with Lisa and Miya and the studio itself.  We had fun eating, talking, and trying very hard not to dribble fish sauce down ourselves.  It simaltaneously feels like yesterday and light years ago.  They were happy memories though and that has what has kept me coming back.

The One That Got Away Fish House is such a seafood, fish n’ chips powerhouse.  Not only do they offer a number of battered fish n’ chips options (haddock, cod, halibut, arctic char, and pickerel), they also offer all of those types of fish in grilled form!  Battered fish, grilled fish…battered fish, grilled fish…I know, it’s a hard decision to make at times.  And to add to the indecision, let’s throw in salmon burgers, fish tacos, seafood chowder, Manhattan chowder, fish and seafood baskets, fish wraps, fish sandwiches, fish and salads, calamari, and crab cakes.  Have I made you salivate yet?  Because I sure am.  Their menu is fantastic!

And prices are pretty average for fish n’ chips and pretty on par with other spots more or less.  Prices for battered fish n’ chips range from $8.99-$13.99, fish wraps, tacos, and sandwiches are $8.49-$12.49, fish with salads are $9.99-$14.99, and chowders and soups come in at $4.99.

It’s a small space, but I enjoy eating here because the people are really friendly and hey, the exposed brick walls have submarine windows on them giving them a cute aquatic feel!  The meals are presented on silver trays covered with cute printed wax paper made to look like fish stories on newspaper.  The quality of food is absolutely fantastic.  The fish is flaky and moist, the batter is crunchy, crispy, light, and buttery, and it’s always accompanied with great salad or fries.  I know everyone has their own personal preferences when it comes to fries (level of saltiness, crispy vs. mushier, beefy wedges vs. shoestring, and so on) but I love their fries simply because they’re never dry or too starchy and I just love the texture and softness, not to mention the herbs and flavour.

I’ve had their battered fish with salad (pictured in the photos; battered haddock with salad), grilled fish with salad, battered fish in a sandwich, grilled fish in a wrap, and their seafood chowder and I love them all.  If I had to choose my favourites though I’d have to say that the fish sandwiches are great bang for your buck (these things are HUGE!  They’re like fish subs), the seafood chowder has so much warmth and flavour, not to mention potatoes and chunky seafood (if you love a hearty, chunky chowder, you’ll be head over heels over it), and the grilled fish with salad is a wonderful, healthy alternative to the battered fish.  I know, I haven’t really narrowed it down to the best of the best but that’s only because it’s all so scrumptious and delicious!

They change up their salads every once in awhile (there are always mixed greens, tomatoes, shredded carrots and sunflower seeds but every so often there will also be yellow beets and other veggies mixed in) and I love the fact that you can choose whether you want battered OR grilled fish.  Oh!  And if you love sauce like I do, you absolutely MUST get your hands and tastebuds on their spicy chipotle mayo and seafood sauce.  HOLY MOTHER OF PEARL.  Hands down one of the best sauces EVER.  It’s spicy with kick, it’s creamy, it’s savoury, and it is just yummy beyond comprehension.  There’s so much more I want to try – pickerel, fish tacos, a fish basket, and more – so this first post on The One That Got Away is just the beginning!

*****

The One That Got Away Fish House is located at 581 King Street West at the corner of King and Portland Street.  They are open 7 days a week: Monday to Friday 11am-10pm, Saturday 12pm-10pm, and Sunday 12pm-7pm.  You can visit their website HERE for more info.

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The Keys to My Heart: The Grilled Halibut Melt at Jakes Pub & Grille on Main Street Unionville!

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I knew it was too good to be true.  The weather, that is.  I was loving the chillier mornings and the moderately warm, sunny days last week.  Then the weather decided to pull a fast one on me and scorch my little tooshie again, all the while gloating as I cowered under the sun in my bucket hat, whimpered in the heat, and cursed the buses that didn’t have air conditioning.  So, I did what any disenchanted girl would do: in defiance of the nasty weather, I hightailed it over to my favourite local pub for a patio lunch, noshed on my favourite dish, sat under a nice, shaded wooden awning, watched people happily sling back a few beers at neighbouring tables, and walked away with a happy belly full of yummy food.  I had myself one of the best lunches this summer and kicked the sweaty, icky, yucky feeling to the curb.  Eating at one of my favourite spots in one of my fvaourite neighbourhoods in my neck of the woods always does the trick.  Welcome to Jakes on Main Street Unionville! 

Jakes is a very classic type of pub establishment with a casual and relaxed atmosphere that’s family-friendly and always hopping with regulars who come out for beers, families who come out with their kids for some good old fashioned kiddie food (you wouldn’t believe how many kids and baby strollers that were there during the hour I was there!), and groups of friends sharing giant plates of food and having a great time.  It’s such a popular, well-loved spot and the crowds show it.  The patio is constantly packed, there’s always a consistent stream of people filling up the tables when they’ve been vacated, and it doesn’t matter what part of the day it is; Jakes is definitely the place to be if you’re around Main Street Unionville.

Jakes and I go way back.  Probably not as far back as many of the locals here who’ve lived in Markham all their life, but far back enough; my first look was back in high school and my first visit was before I even started grad school!  It’s my favourite spot on Main Street and my favourite classic pub in Markham.  I know that aside from the beer, pubs aren’t necessarily known for their haute cuisine.  There are some pub spots in the city that I’ve been to that are totally top-notch with delicious food, but if we’re playing a game of word association here, we know that most people would associate pub fare and bar grub with things like wings, calamari, and nachos and unless they’re spectacular, they’re forgettable to most people. 

At Jakes?  Call it pub fare, call it bar grub, call it whatever you want because the food here is REALLY, REALLY good!  You must be thinking, “how good can it be?”.  Trust me, their menu selection and portions speak for themselves.  We’re talking 6 types of poutine (butter chicken, pulled pork, and steak and mushroom just to name a few!), 21 different sandwiches, burgers, and wraps (beef dip, smoked salmon club, California club with guac and mango salsa, fish tacos, and more!), pub appetizers (deep fried pickles, crab cakes, coconut shrimp, and bacon wrapped scallops among others), and plenty of mains and entrees including baked chicken, pub pie, goat cheese quesadilla, and spicy chicken and seafood.

Prices are typical of a sit-down pub ($7-$20) and their menu is the same for both lunch and dinner, so you enjoy the goodness during the day or well into the evening.  It’s been so long since I’ve been here and while I was sitting at my table waiting for my food to come, I saw countless dishes being brought out to other patrons and I was reminded of how great their food was and how much I dearly missed what I had ordered since it had been so long since my last visit.

My favourite thing to have at Jakes: the halibut melt!  One of my ultimate not-healthy, comfort food weaknesses is fish and chips and Jakes halibut melt ($11.99) is a delicious, crispy, melt-in-your-mouth battered halibut fish sandwiched between caramelized onions, melted mozzarella cheese, and grilled bread, served with tangy tarter sauce (I LOVE TARTAR SAUCE!) and either fries, caesar salad, or green salad with your choice of salad dressing.  I LOVE fish sandwiches, tacos, and burritos and given how I’ve blogged about the haddock fish burritos and shrimp burritos and quesadillas from Burrito Boyz and the fish tacos from Wish Cafe, I figured it was time to post another one on seafood sandwiches, pub style!     

The sandwich is so, so good because the grilled bread is able to hold up to the melted cheese and caramelized onions and give the crunchy halibut fish the support it needs to stay crispy with every bite – no one wants a limp and soggy sandwich!  The battered halibut on the inside is moist and flaky and perfectly golden on the outside with a scrumptious buttery warmth to it.  I think one of the things I love most about fish and chips is the difference in textures (moist on the inside, crunchy on the outside) and this sandwich is so full of crunch and flavour and the melted mozzarella just adds that extra butteriness to the whole sandwich. 

And the tartar sauce!  It is so much fun dipping this sandwich into the tartar sauce and having that creamy tangy just whack a few good ones out of the park in your mouth.  After awhile though, it gets a little hard trying to dip the sandwich in so I just dip my fork into the sauce and slather it on.  And while the salad is just a side to the star of the show, it’s worth noting that the green house salad is great with it baby greens, refreshing cucumber, shredded carrots, and sliced bell peppers.  There’s a ton of different dressing options and I chose a honey mustard to go with mine this time around.

Jakes has made changes and additions to their menu over the years and I’m looking forward to coming back more often for some casual pub fare and really good food in fab neighbourhood.  After living in Markham for 14 years now, it’s a neighbourhood pub that definitely feels like home.

*****

Jakes Pub & Grille is located at 202 Main Street Unionville in Markham just south of Carlton Rd. on the popular Main Street shopping and dining strip.  They’re open 7 days a week for both lunch and dinner with a big patio out front.