Saturday, September 15, 2007


Fish and chips anyone? It’s the sort of thing I’ve always avoided, but I grew up in Saint John, NB so I suppose I was bound to gain respect for it eventually. I was opposed to the greasiness, the lack of nutrients, the monotonous colour palette and most of all, the lack of any flavour worth eating.

And then all of a sudden, unhappy with the meal in front of me at a local pub, I noticed my friend Tiff was enjoying her fish and chips. She started talking about her husband’s great appreciation for fish and chips and her decision that he might like the Alehouse’s version. It began to look like something I might try. After all, I figured, there must be something to it. My brother who specializes in greasy food took me under his tutelage and I started sampling fish and chips.

Fish and chips advocates are incredibly picky. The big challenge is to cook the fish and maintain separate flavours for the fish and the coating. Mushy is a fail. The coating must be dry, not greasy, flavourful. The fish must taste fresh and not just like the grease. The fries, fried potatoes, etc. must also be tasty, whether coated, thick, thin, shaved, etc. If you’re going upscale, you can also critique your salad.

Between Saint John and the St. Stephen-Calais border there are multiple seafood joints. Everyone has a favourite and is incredibly loyal. These are not fancy restaurants with linen and uniformed staff. They’re homey places with plastic table coverings, or wooden lunch counters where you eat in your car or at the picnic table watching the traffic go by. I think Tourism new Brunswick could actually promote the Fish and Chips tour, and this stretch would be the hub.

Here’s my recent scallops and chips meal from Comeau’s in Pennfield, NB. It’s famous among locals and visitors and has come out as my favourite (although I am still partial to the lobster sandwich from Ossie’s). Comeau’s also does the straight up fish, and the shrimp. The remarkable thing about Comeau’s fish and chips is that it isn’t greasy like other fish and chips. I’ve tested this with napkins. They also offer other homey dishes too (including Kraft Dinner and the classic Whistle Dog), and it’s always packed. Their milkshakes are excellent too.

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