Red Fish Blue Fish

1006 Wharf Street tel (250) 298 6877

The expression 'you're only as good as your worst day,' is usually a foundation for a complaint, but not this time -on what I thought would be a rough weekend for Red Fish Blue Fish they appeared to be having 'a good day.'

Patty and I were working the Tall Ship's Festival at Ship's Point; scorching hot, people everywhere and we noted the lengthy queue at Red Fish Blue Fish, 'they must be getting their ass kicked,' we thought. We debated standing in the queue and that this wasn't a good time to base an opinion. Ultimately, my appetitive won out and off we went.              

Despite the full sun exposure burning the enthusiasm out of diners, everyone waiting was in reasonable spirits - it appeared to be by design. Not only were there photocopies of the menu to distract people, but the man at the order window shouted encouraging words regarding the estimated wait to order and receive food. 'One minute per person,' to order food, he announced, encouraging us to wait. Well, that's a smart thing to do. He took names diligently, was a smidge militant in his procedure, but was polite and always answered yes. In the time we waited to order and receive food, I didn't see anyone complain about either process - amazing on such a busy day.

I'd noted the Ocean Wise symbols and general aesthetic presentation indicated a eco-friendly approach to business, but it wasn't until I was waiting for my food did I see the super posh wood disposable cutlery - wow, fancy pants! I happen to be a bit of a eco-disposable cutlery connoisseur and these are very high end. Not only are they swanky, but they had people helping themselves to them. Now fair enough, who steals disposable cutlery, but nevertheless, I was in awe. The compostable plastic I buy will never look as nice.

Red Fish Blue Fish offers a modern perspective on traditional fish and chips, that include a much wider array of products like salmon, oysters, scallops, as well spicy and grilled options. We ordered a one piece halibut and chips ($11), an oyster tacone ($6) and curry chips ($3.5).

The halibut and chips was  lovely with a light tempura-style batter, rather than the traditional heavy beer batter, good quality chips, a fresh tasting and not mayonnaise'y coleslaw, as well as tartar sauce and ketchup. One of the better fish chips I've had lately (up there with Jigger's in Ucluelet). The tacone was tasty, albeit a bit messy. The oyster was fresh and the tortilla nice and chewy with a distinct grilled flavour. That said, I realise that the name is a play on cone and taco - but apparently it means high heeled shoe in Spanish. I liked the curry chips, but I found the sauce too heavy for the portion. I would have preferred it in a ketchup sized portion, since that's what it more or less was - red curry ketchup (which I think is a great idea, in a smaller volume). If I was going to eat it in the volume served I would have thinned it out with some coconut milk to reduce the acidity.

There were lots of other things on the menu that looked similarly tasty and interesting, that I had to save for another day. I like that these folks care about they're garnish and condiments, as many people know, I have a reputation about being obsessive about these things. I wasn't a big fan of the menu items with the mystery fish. Despite being painfully curious about the Spicy Pacific Fish Sloppy Joe, it kinda made me think about leftovers. I would have called it the Spicy Seasonal Fish Sloppy Joe, if I was just trying to leave my options open.

Nice location on the inner harbour board walk, good service, interesting menu and earth-friendly products - you can't beat that for a concept. (Also nice, if you're waiting for a West Coast or Kenmore Air flight and you're tired of eating the giveaways in the lounge, it's only meters away.)

reviewed June 2008