Is Lighthouse Cafe in Edmonton worth trying?
We are looking for a fish restaurant for dinner before going to the movies at the Princess theater and was wondering if the Lighthouse Cafe in Billingsgate is worth trying. I assume that their ingredients are fresh, given their location, but I would like to know if their kitchen is competent enough to deliver a moist grilled fish or a good fish and chips
While I do agree that the fries are really not very good (I thought it was just because I don't really like them anyway), I was very disappointed to find such bad reviews of the place. If ever I have had fish there, it was nothing short of beautiful. I noticed somebody comment that the fish was a tad underdone; I'd like to make note that that is the way any good chef will cook fish. I am very picky with my fish and require that it is cooked medium to medium well at the very maximum. Otherwise, it is sucked dry of its natural flavor and beautiful fatty texture (the good fat, by the way). Dry fish is as good as cardboard and I'd pay about the price of cardboard if I was desperate.
If I want something from the market that isn't on the menu, they always work it out for me. I order "deep fried shrimp" that is usually fried in their fish and chip batter. The shrimp at this restaurant is AMAZING. It is so fresh, it has a bit of a juicy crunch to it -- and so flavorful! Don't take my word for it, though.
The "Fish and Chips" halibut is probably the best battered fish I've had.
I agree with one of the other posters that the rice isn't very good, but it's wild rice, which I really don't like anyway.
The desserts are fantastic!
I've also tried some healthier dishes -- bass, salmon, tuna - and they were all very nice. The bass was crusted with and almond sprinkle and some nice, light seasonings.
The experience (except for the deep-fried food) is nice and subtle, which is great for me because I am a very sensual eater and love playing with subtleties.
I find the decor charming and suited to the maritime theme which is a part of my heritage. In the center of the tiny dining area is a giant sea ship chandelier hanging just under the peak of the light house. I wouldn't change anything about it. The service however, ranges from splendid to annoying. I sometimes wonder if they are a little desperate. (I'm recalling the service I received most recently!)
I hope this balanced it out enough that you would at least give it a chance. It is one of my favorite restaurants (I've been going for eight years) and I'd hate to see it missed by visitors because of a few comments.
If you ever tried undercooked sable fish you would know what I am talking about. "Undercooked" is a relative term. It is relative to the ideal point for each type of fish. It does not mean rare or medium rare, It is the opposite of "overcooked" and it means not fully cooked properly
As for the rice, it was not "wild rice" but converted rice, like "Uncle Ben's" . And whether you like something or not is not the point, the point is to provide useful information to other chow hounds so they can make their own choices.
Overall, I think we would go back, as there are not many better choices for a restaurant with a menu with a variety of fish items in Edmonton, except perhaps for Oriental restaurants.
re: felix the hound
I think you have made a lot of assumptions in your response to my comment.
First, I want to agree with you that this site helps to provide information to other chowhounds. That seems like something that one can infer from browsing the site. But I'm wondering if you can explain to me how we might distinguish useful information from useless information. Indeed, I am speaking from a subjective perspective to a great extent, but I offer some reasoned insight to help somebody make ther own judgement about whether the restaurant is worth visiting. You state: "the point is to provide useful information...' which is really something you cannot claim. The term 'useful' is subjective and does not provide me with evidence that I have done otherwise. So, in using such a statement in reply to my comment, you are implying that what I provided was useless information. Furthermore, the original question that you posted should provide the most accurate idea of what 'the point' is. I didn't respond to this message because I like to search around on Chowhound for things to reply to, I did it because of the very specific inqiry about the quality of the fish and chips and the moistness of the fish in general. Both of these questions are talking about qualities that are difficult understand objectively.
You also make the assumption that I need to be educated on what 'relative' means. We can debate about what 'good' means, but the meaning of relative can be agreed on universally; thus, if I were to have trouble understanding what you mean, a dictionary would suffice. I have not tried undercooked sable fish, but given that most restaurants in Edmonton overcook their fish, I wouldn't take it personally if they mistook their done-time for a minute or two earlier. If I require something changed, I ask. Also, many people overcook their fish by the standards of chefs but when they experience a quality prepared fish, they call it undercooked. Perhaps this will help you understand why I touched on that.
I have not seen converted white rice at Lighthouse Cafe; all my dishes that came with rice were wild and had a very strong natural flavour.
It's great that you have had the opportunity to experience the restaurant for yourself, despite the reviews. I think, since you seem to be very good at your own assessments and unforgiving with adverse assessments, you might consider using Chowhound to assert your opinions rather that seeking them. Your original question was a subjective one, yet you seem to have expected an objective reply. You want "good fish and chips", but "whether [I] like something or not is not the point." I provided reasons for why I like the restaurant, and also offer insight into my own subjective preferences so that it is easier for you to see if they match your subjective preferences. Generally, food and restaurant reviews are full of subjective information. Take what you want from it and appreciate the value offered, if nothing else.
I am Chowhound's new heel, so read carefully.
I went a couple years ago and had the bouillabaisse. The stock was limp - it had no body and the fishy taste was old not savoury. The rest of the items were uninspired and a little overdone, except for the fish and chips. The fish was good - the fries weren't. If you're desperate it will make a turd; if not try Captain Scott's on 118ave just west of St Albert Trail.
I have only been there once for a fundraiser and the ticket included non-stop fish and chips which were pretty good and the tartar sauce was just fine. Don't remember anything about the fries. But the coleslaw was not great. Can't comment on the service as this event was a self serve thing,
There Fish and chips (halibut) were okay, I just went on Saturday night, but you go there for the specials. I fail to see how an Average price of $15 an entree is overpriced and I'm an university student. The decor is painfully kitsch and in ill repair and the service was a bit to be desired, but it was a good meal. Don't go there for atmosphere.
I don't mean to be a prick, but I fail to see how you came to an average of $15 per entree:
As for overpriced - that's a personal assessment. "Overpriced" is a subjective call, that factors in quality of food, quantity, overall value. Im glad you've had good experiences there. I will concede they were pretty good value when the location first opened up 9 years ago, but visits in the past 4-5 years have been...overpriced.
Your comments on the service and atmosphere are spot on though.
We tried the Lighthouse Cafe with another couple on Monday night before taking in "The year my parents went on vacation" at the Princess and we had an OK meal. Four main courses, two glasses of house white wine and two local beers came out to $100 before tip. We ordered two halibuts, one sable fish, and one tilapia. I've had better sable fish at Japanese restaurants but my wife's red pepper potato crusted halibut was very good ( I had a taste) , the preparation complimenting the fish texture. I found the preparation of the sable fish with a cream pistachio sauce incongruous as the fish is already buttery, but the sauce was mild and was used sparingly. The fish was, however, slightly undercooked. I did not particularly enjoy the side of rice as I don’t understand the use of converted rice in a restaurant, or anywhere for that matter. The service was basic. We sat outside in the patio and it was lovely summer evening. Overall it was a pleasant experience and given the dearth of fish restaurants in Edmonton we might be back for the halibut (about $18) and to try the fish and chips) (2 pieces of halibut for about $15) (Yen’s comments on the fries noted). The patio sitting was a bonus. It is difficult to judge these days what is overpriced (or not) given the galloping inflation seen in restaurant menus across the city, independent of quality or atmosphere. A hundred dollars at the Saiwoo or Wok King would get you abundant good food for four including fresh seafood. But it is a different dining experience.
On a final note, at the Princess we paid $4 dollars for a medium size bag of popcorn and $2.50 for a 500ml bottle of Dasani. That is more than we paid in Central Park in New York the previous week.