Nestled at the foot of Palmerston at King is the sexily vinyled fish and chips place, The One that Got Away. You'll recognize it from the busty mermaid silhouette on the glass. Unlike a lot of cool King West joints, TOTGA keeps it casual with an exposed brick and wood interior, a few vintage nick knacks and counter service. It's good for a pop in, but seating is extremely limited, so maybe pass it by for long lingering dates.
I've been hearing around that this place only serves sustainable seafood, though I somehow didn't see the note that is apparently on the blackboard (slightly exhausted and silly that night, there was a lot I didn't notice which I should have!). Because I'm a bit of a geek for environmentalism and sustainability, I double checked their menu against Greenpeace's Red List, and through Seachoice. It's A-OK! This alone is enough to keep me coming back, it's so encouraging to see a local business put in a commitment to sustainability.
BUT you guys aren't hear to read about my ideals! Let's get to some food.
To start off, my friend Heather and I got the fish basket to split. It's a medley of deep-fried treats, with chips, scallops, shrimp, calamari and a wedge of haddock. It was a good size, the bulk made up of buttery french fries (whoops! There goes my British..) and calamari. I was sort of disappointed that there were only two shrimps and two small scallops, but I understand that those are the more expensive items. I do love a big fat scallop, though. I feel like the larger ones have a sweeter and more noticeable taste. Everything was beautifully crisp, and had a lighter touch to it. I think TOTGA had a batter that's very light compared to other Toronto fish and chips stalwarts like Chippy's. It's easier to taste the fish through it, which was fresh and light, and doesn't sit so heavily down in the gut. For the most part this was good but not a huge stand out, with everything being played safe and satisfying. The calamari was more daringly prepared, its crust peppered with flakes of herbs. With this all came a side of tartar sauce that was fantastically full of dill, and a little dish of coleslaw. The slaw wasn't the best, too much oil and not enough vinegar. On the bright side, condiments abound, and it was no hassle to add some white vinegar, salt and pepper (though one shouldn't have to). Bonus points for having readily available sriracha!
The next best thing about TOTGA after it's sustainable focus are the options it lets the customer explore with it's selection of fish (haddock, arctic char, barramundi, halibut and pickerel), which can be had fried OR grilled, and can be served in the classic manner, or as a wrap, a sandwich, or even as a salad (the last is also possible with the fried fish cakes, calamari, shrimps and scallops). We opted for a salad to pretend we were eating healthy after that massive platter of fried food we started with, and got the barramundi. I'm familiar with this white and fatty medium bodied fish from having lived in Australia where it's a staple, and where its name comes from. I also think living in that country gave me pretty high standards for fish and chips, since everything is ever so fresh. There was a while when I absolutely wouldn't eat Canadian inland fish and chips, since it couldn't compare. This barramundi probably comes from US farms, though. It did have a distinct fishy taste, unlike the light butteriness I had hoped for. The flavour was still enjoyable, and the skin was salty and oily in a way that worked with the citrus in the salad. the romaine and greens came with diced mango salsa, cucumber and grated carrot, and all that sweetness was a good match to the fish.
It isn't actually served in a treasure chest by the way, as awesome and corny as that would be.
For dessert, I tried out an old fashioned soda. I think I'm a convert! Bye-bye Coke! Hellooooo black cherry soda. You can find these in specialty shops and at various little places around Toronto, but it was a pleasant first sampling for me.
Special thanks today goes to my friend Heather who let me draw her in a shell bra and with fins!