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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sea Witch Fish and Chips - The Real Deal on St Clair West

Sea Witch Fish and Chips

funky lamps, comfortable, laid back interior with some interesting, nautical themed bits and bobs

I get to go to a lot of media dinners and eat a lot of free food and I have to tell you, I eat more mediocre food than good food at these things. I usually only share the places that I am excited about because I prefer to share restaurants with people as opposed to "reviewing" them.

With that in mind, I am thrilled to share Sea Witch with you.


The small, neighbourhood restaurant is located on the hot little strip of St Clair West (just west of Bathurst) and it's been garnering rave reviews since the day it opened for it's small, simple and well executed menu. There are no bells and whistles, no 3 page menu attempting to make everyone happy, no fish tacos and , at this time anyway, no liquor license so not everyone is going to be thrilled with Sea Witch but people who want to eat really delicious, perfectly executed fish and chips are going to be over the moon. The line ups since the day they opened just ten months ago are a testament to how badly people really want a great plate of fried fish.

the beef tallow is what takes this fish and chips up over the edge and puts them at the front of the F&C line

You can get Pacific halibut, Atlantic haddock, Arctic Char, Pacific Cod and a surprising but delicious local fish, pickerel. On the weekends, they try to offer a featured fish (Blue Cod is on the menu this weekend, for example) and the prices are good - $11 to $15 depending on the type of fish you order. Hand cut, crispy fries are served in a huge heap alongside a homemade tartar sauce. A large bowl of slaw will set you back $4 and, to be honest, it was the only thing I tasted that didn't do much for me but other people loved it. I like a really creamy slaw and this one is a bit on the dry side, but it's fresh and home made and I will take that over a creamy, pre fab slaw any day.

Chef/owner Kevin Kowalczyk spent more than a decade at Penrose Fish and Chips, so he knows his way around a deep fryer. Like at Penrose, he fries his fish and chips in beef tallow, the old school way and the result is a deeply golden, crisp batter than shatters with your first stab at it. This is the real deal and if you wince at the thought of fish fried in beef drippings, get over it. This is how a proper fish and chip is done and it's a glorious thing.

I have not had a better fish cake

Kowalczyk's wife, Jacki Strahl makes the rest of the food and I would hard pressed to choose between an order of halibut and chips and her wonderful halibut cakes. They are crispy on the outside and soft, tender and flaky on the inside. You can order two giant fish cakes with chips for $13 or a side order of just the cakes for $10. They come with pickled onion and I would suggest getting a side order of her tangy tartar sauce as well.

the house chowder is text book, delicious fish chowder

A big bowl of Witches Brew was one of my favourite parts of the meal. The house chowder is full of big chunks of fish and it's chowder the way I like it. Not too thin, not too thick - I felt like the little bear finding a chowder that was juuuuuuust right.

$5 will get you this tower of crispy, thickly battered onion rings
The menu also offers poutine and halibut poutine so, basically, other than the soup and the cole slaw, this is where you come to get your deep fry on so don't come in and ask for a garden salad.

I live in the Beaches so this place isn't convenient to me at all and I can certainly get a decent fish and chip in the east end but I am telling you, I will be back for more of those halibut cakes and the chowder alone. Oh, and I am dying to try the Pickerel and Chips.

Yes, my meal was free since I was invited there for a media dinner but my opinions are my own and the fact that I gave them a stand alone post instead of including them in The Week In Yum should tell you how I feel about this place


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