I was looking for a new place for lunch, and I came across this video where “Skipper Dave” and “First Mate Cat” were introducing us to the delicacies served at Cat’s Fish & Chips. Fish & Chips is a great lunch item – so that’s what I suggested to Mel and we made our way to Vanier.
Cat’s Fish & Chips opened in May 2012 and rapidly made their mark, winning Metro’s Choice Awards for Best Fish & Chips and Best Takeout in December.
The building, located at St-Laurent and Hemlock and previously housing the Rockliff Bistro, is newly renovated and repainted in a nice sky blue colour, with a nautical-theme décor. The spot is laid back and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Inside, Emerald was waiting for us, telling us we had to wait to be seated.
Directions for the Poop deck were clear and straightforward.
The place wasn’t busy yet, and we had our choice of seats – we elected to sit outside.
Yes, outside, where a lobster trap had caught a big yellow can.
There is nothing quite like a fresh yellow can!
We perused the menu. Fish, of course, and all kinds of seafood dishes
But obviously, Cat’s Fish and Chips is boasting about it’s Fish and Chips. We were a bit surprised by the lack of options here, as they only offer Cutlass Haddock. It would be nice to have a couple of options, like Cod and Pollock, or maybe even Catfish. Cat’s Catfish and chips. Now, that would be marketing. The Haddock is offered either breaded or beer-battered, your pick. They also have gluten free version if you are so inclined. A bonus, a dollar from every order of fish and chips goes to the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Center.
And that’s what we were here for. Mel got the one piece with the Spicy Plank shavings ($13.52) while I went for the two pieces ($20.12) with their Fresh Cut Chips. But first, First Mate Cat convinced us to get an order of Rings By The Sea ($8.94) – their seasoned calamari, fresh cut and flash fried. She had us at “fresh.”
While we waited for our food, we enjoyed a cold one on the deck. Mel went for a Magner’s – she got excited when she saw the advertisement on the billboard. I decided to go all in on the East Coast Experience and I ordered a pint of Moosehead.
Our calamari arrived very promptly, which is normal considering it is flash fried. The Rings by the Sea were served in a little blue rowing boat, with a Sweet Chili dipping sauce at the stern and a wedge of lemon at the bow.
We took the lemon, squeezed generously. The rings were delicate, tender, delicious. No chewiness, great seasoning – no wonder it is their best seller. From time to time, we would dip in the chili sauce, but I thought it was too sweet – I think I would have preferred one of their other sauces.
Next came the star of the show: Cat’s Fish and Chips:
In a large basket, two big pieces of haddock were sitting right on top of a mountain of chips. Two lemon wedges, a pickle spear, some coleslaw and tartar sauce completed the dish. The fries were seasoned well with a hint of heat. Dark golden, big wedge-style pieces with skin on. Crispy on the outside, fluffy inside – quite good, but a tad greasy – probably because the fish was sitting on them. The coleslaw was creamy and flavourful, with a little kick.
The beer batter was crispy, and held together well on the fish, light with a nice texture. The haddock was great – cooked to perfection, flaky, moist. The contrast between the white flesh and the golden batter was pleasing to the eye, like a little piece of cloud – deep fried.
We were both very satisfied with our meal, and quickly turned down the dessert menu – we were just full.