Depending on individual tastes, there are plenty of places around P.E.I. to enjoy this seafood staple
© Photo special to The Guardian by Bob Gray
Alex Thompson is just one of the wonderful serving staff at the Water-Prince Corner Shop in Charlottetown, where fish and chips is more of an obsession than simply a meal to be served.
Probably the dining question I get asked most often is, “Where should I go around here for great fish and chips?”
That answer is far more difficult than it seems. There are a number of great places for fish and chips, and the differences between some of the better offerings are infinitesimal.
There are some local places to which I would never send anyone for fish and chips, and there are some I haven’t tried, but the ones below are pretty much sure things. These are the places I take my own visitors.
The Gahan House on Sydney Street in Charlottetown features fresh cut fries and (its own) beer-battered haddock served up in a paper bag presentation. You can’t go wrong.
The Pilot House in Charlottetown also uses its own beer in the batter for haddock, and it’s excellent. The chips are first-rate, and the coleslaw is very good. It’s just another highly recommended offering, from what has become my “go to” Charlottetown restaurant for a consistently good meal.
Rick’s Fish and Chips at St. Peter’s Bay is renowned for its signature dish, with great reviews across a wide spectrum of media. You can’t fight your way into the tiny restaurant, or even onto their deck, most of the high season. That’s good, and that’s not so good. Usually their battered haddock and house-made fries are top class, but sometimes they seem to get overwhelmed by the volume and you can wait a while. I try to go when things are a bit quieter, and I’ve never had anything less than wonderful.
If deep-fried fish offends your healthy-eating sensibilities, then 21 Breakwater in Souris may be your place of choice. It has probably unique fish and chips as its fish is often hake, which is then covered in a batter which becomes a wonderful herbed crust, after baking rather than frying. The chips are great, too. And be sure to try the lobster dip as an appetizer.
Which brings us to my absolute top recommendation. The fish and chips at the Water-Prince Corner Shop in Charlottetown are in such high demand that I’m sure take-out orders end up inside the Pearly Gates above.
You get your choice of haddock or halibut, with the haddock being coated with its “secret recipe” light breading, while the halibut gets the full batter treatment. It can be switched around if you’d rather, but they generally have a strong feeling about breading and haddock. They may be right. This haddock melts in your mouth.
And for my money, the fries here are the best on the Island. Fresh, steamy hot when served, not too salty, they’re perfect with malt vinegar and just a touch of ketchup.
And the servers at the Corner Shop are great fun and just wonderful. I’m sure they’ve taken more pictures this summer than all the photographers in town combined.
Prices at these places? Anywhere from $10 to $15 per serving, depending on how many pieces of fish you feel like — the best deal around.
Each Friday throughout the summer, Bob Gray points readers to quality Prince Edward Island eating establishments in his Summer Savoury column. Suggestions and comments are welcome at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @bgray5.