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Reliable fish and chips...blah

I've walked by a hundred times...after tonight's experience, it should have been 101 times.

It wasn't terrible, but the fries were soggy, the fish was mediocre and the tartar sauce was skimpy.

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  1. Interesting... I've always wanted to go there as I worked on their Restaurant Makeover episode but every time I've tried to go they're closed.

    1. I haven't been there in many months, but I've found them to be - reliable (oy)

      I've really liked their halibut, cod, and fries, and found their slaw okay. I never had a problem getting extra tartar sauce (which isn't special). Most of their other menu items have never been good, but they were always honest about what was fresh, frozen, canned, or fake (all of the "shellfish").

      I hope you just hit an off day (of which every resto around here has far too many) and not another Toronto eatery that has stopped caring.

      1 Reply
      1. re: embee

        Reliable has become unreliable.

        Reliable used to be my go to place for F&C. The fries, while fresh cut, sucked, but, the fish was good with a thin, thin batter and always very fresh. Things are no longer so unfortunately. The fish sizes continue to shrink to foolishly thin pieces that can't be anything but horridly overcooked when served (or else the batter doesn't brown at all) and the pricing is high for what you get.

        The owner is a really, really nice guy. I would like to continue to patronize his business. But, my last order (about 2 weeks ago) will be my last for a long while.

        I will be giving my business to British Style. When Ali sold to his assistant a year or more ago, there was an initial dip in quality (problem with things being greasy or not cooked correctly). However, my last couple orders have been as good as any in the past.

      2. Tonight I had a fish and chips craving and went to Reliable to satisfy it. Meh.

        As grandgourmand says, soggy fries, runny tartar sauce, and the fish was just ok. While the batter was crisp, my fish (I had the trout) had a slight taste of rotting leaves, something I've noticed in inferior quality farmed fish.

        The service, as always, was friendly and efficient.

        This was probably my 10th time going there. Maybe they're having an off weekend?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Big Trouble

          That's the place on Queen East? I've always liked their fish & chips. It's near us, mind you, I don't have fish & chips all that often, but it's always been good.

          1. re: SusanB

            Yep, the one on Queen East near Carlaw. Could have been an off day but judging from other posts, perhaps not.

        2. I agree. I've been wanting to try this place for a couple years and I drive by all the time. Finally stopped in with the gf and we were both very unimpressed. Very expensive for what you get, but I wouldn't mind the cost if it tasted good. I had salmon, she had cod, both were very bad. The salmon seemed like it was still a bit frozen in the middle.

          This was about a month ago.

          1 Reply
          1. re: szw

            The salmon has never been good - it is a weird prep and never fresh.

          2. they use frozen fries. when you specialize in fish and chips and half of your specialty is not fresh nor made in house, you wonder about them.
            their chicken fingers are also frozen and imported

            3 Replies
            1. re: atomeyes

              As I noted above, they have been honest. Only the "standard" white fish were ever claimed to be fresh. They were usually very good. The salmon, "basa", chicken, and onion rings have always been frozen, the gravy canned, and the "shellfish" fake.

              Are you sure about the chips? If they are now using frozen spuds, things are - indeed -going downhill. I've been avoiding things like F&C lately, but I'll try to get in there soon.

              1. re: embee

                I was never a fan of this place but went once in a while because it's in the neighborhood. However everything has gone downhill since the Makeover episode. The last straw was when I was served a piece of halibut that was barely half a cm thick and charged $11 for. I still find Old Yorke to be the gold standard for fresh fish and chips with reasonable portions.

              2. re: atomeyes

                Are you sure about the fries? I was there last over a year ago, and I definitely saw buckets of fresh, what appeared to be hand-cut, fries. No way they were frozen.

              3. I'm not a fan of any of the Leslieville fish & chips spots since my beloved Woodgreen left the neighborhood after over 35 years. :(

                If I actually had to walk and get some F&C, I'd probably walk over to B&B before ever setting foot at RELIABLE. Don't get me wrong, I'll still eat there. As long as my friend or somebody else pays for me. It sure won't come out of my own pocket. Not ever again... LOL

                Not far from Leslieville, you can drive out to DEEP BLUE which is on Broadview just south of Danforth. Also, PARKSIDE is located on Greenwood, just south of Gerrard.

                Maybe, I'm just old-fashioned, but I still think it is just criminal to pay over $10 bucks for an order of fish and chips take-away. Just caught an episode of CORONATION STREET and on their chalkboard menu it's price advertised is only 3.25 pounds. Damn, I don't have a British pound sterling sign on this keyboard! ;)

                1. Although I haven't been in a while, I think the best takeaway F+C's is at Chippy's! The fish was battered perfectly and you get to choose between a few different kinds. The one I have been to is on Queen W. but they opened one on Bloor that I have yet to eat at. Might be worth a trip!

                  490 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S1X8, CA

                  1. Too bad, you weren't too far away from the absolute best fish and chips in town: British Style Fish and Chips over at Coxwell and Dundas.

                    The only sticking point, no homemade tartar sauce. Bring your own, the packets suck. Other than that the batter is so crisp when you break into with your fork it releases a very satisfying and audible cracking sound. The fish inside is super fresh, flaky and moist (I always get the halibut). The chips, seriously crispy, perhaps the crispiest chips I have ever had. The portion size? For around $10 it easily would feed 2 people, it is a ridiculous single portion.

                    It is also the type of place you walk into and know the fish and chips will be good. It's not a dive, but its not not a dive if you get my drift. Just the right amount of grime to let you know that deep fried goodness awaits.

                    I spent almost 5 years living here and trying to find a decent fish and chips before finding British, some are close but no one does it as good. The lack of homemade tartar sauce is a huge drawback, but the only one.

                    British Style
                    73 Coxwell Ave, Toronto, ON M4L3B1, CA

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: JPJ

                      I think you're living in the past. You must be refering to the old British Style that was sold over a year ago. It's current incarnation is nowhere close to the best in town.

                      British Style
                      73 Coxwell Ave, Toronto, ON M4L3B1, CA

                      1. re: sbug206

                        If by the past you mean about 2 months ago when I posted on it last you are right. If by the past you mean over a year ago, then I disagree, because it would be at odds with the reality that I posted about my experience when I went about 2 months ago.

                        It's still fantastic imo, but with food opinions are a dime a dozen. Probably something to do with everyone's sense of taste being different, changing with age, etc.

                        I guess the only way for someone to know is to try it for themselves.

                        1. re: JPJ

                          I'll give it a shot, at some point. I've been by it a bunch of times. However, Deep Blue is closer to me, and I've been pretty satisfied with their fish and chips. I like their tartar sauce, at least, I don't remember anything bad about it (Reliable's was runny). I also like the mint and pea humus they serve with it. Not traditional at all, but very tasty.

                          Deep Blue
                          749 Broadview Ave, Toronto, ON M4K2P6, CA

                          1. re: grandgourmand

                            I hate to start rumours, but it looks very much like Deep Blue is no longer in business. I walk past there every day and for the last 3 weeks, it has not been open. No sign on the door for vacation, just not open.

                            Deep Blue
                            749 Broadview Ave, Toronto, ON M4K2P6, CA

                            1. re: MorseCat

                              They never has a good review, and there were issues with poor service. Once was enough for me. I'm surprised they lasted 2 years.

                              1. re: MorseCat

                                I don't think you're starting rumours, their phone is no longer in service. I think that's pretty conclusive!!

                                1. re: MorseCat

                                  That spot isn't very lucky for restaurants. I enjoyed Deep Blue when it first opened, but I went in about three months ago and was assailed with the aroma of fish and a huge cloud of smoke over the fryer. Sat down, thought about it, and left to eat elsewhere.

                                  Too bad they messed it up, it seemed like they had a winning formula in early days.

                                  Deep Blue
                                  749 Broadview Ave, Toronto, ON M4K2P6, CA

                              2. re: JPJ

                                I second JPJ's review. I thought it was a great big portion of deep fried goodness. Get take out though. The entrance to the restaurant (which is still outside of the main room) also has stairs leading down. Not sure if they'd had a plumbing issue that day but I was greeted by an overwhelming smell of urine. No amount of money could convince me to descend the 'Silence of the Lambs' stairs. The good news is the kitchen and food prep does not take place down there and the actual sitting area is not too bad but god forbid you need to use the bathroom.

                              3. re: sbug206

                                sbug, as I noted above "When Ali sold to his assistant a year or more ago, there was an initial dip in quality (problem with things being greasy or not cooked correctly). However, my last couple orders have been as good as any in the past."

                                I really think you should give them another try. They have got back to pre-sale quality levels.

                            2. I like Reliable. To rehash the joke - they are reliable. Their cod and chips is solid, my only guilt being the whole "don't eat cod" thing. The chips are tasty and never any sign of old oil being used. Nothing is greasy. I haven't had much else on the menu except the halibut. Salmon has no right to be on a Fish and Chips menu.

                              As an Englishman I could go on about high expectations, but I've had a lot worse on the streets of London or Manchester.

                              The owner is also a really nice guy and I love calling ahead on my way home from work and picking up my freshly cooked grub.

                              That being said, I wish they could experiment a little more with their slaw (not British, but an essential North American addition) and tartar sauce.

                              Thumbs up from me!

                              1. That's surprising. Every time I've been there, it's been great.

                                1. I really liked the Salmon from there too... that was the best one, IMO!!

                                  1. What are you referring to? I might have missed something, If so, I apologize.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: lamaranthe

                                      OP is referring to a fish & chip shop called Reliable at 954 Queen St East west of Carlaw. Had a restaurant makeover a few years ago. Haven't tried it yet, I usually head up to Old Yorke.

                                    2. Penrose 600 Mount Pleasant. Still the same olf reliable one. Nothing fancy. Tiny premises, 1950's furniture, but the fish & chips are very good, wrapped in newspaper if you wish, for take out. Not cheap but worth the price (IMO). There were many posts in this egard on Chowhound.

                                      1. Are any of these fish and chip shops promoting haddock, as a sustainable fish?
                                        Halibut is questionable, unless it is from the north Pacific,
                                        and cod is depleted; we should be waiting while stocks rebuild.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: jayt90

                                          Old Yorke usually has hake on offer as the lunchtime special. What's the deal with hake? Sustainable?

                                          1. re: JamieK

                                            Hake seems to be one of those words that can mean several different fish - some okay, some not.


                                        2. The best: Penrose Fish and Chips. Nothing fancy there, far from it. Not really cheap, But fresh fish and very good fries. Served the old way, in newspaper wrapping. Though you can be served at one of those worn-out tables and over-worked old ladies.

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: lamaranthe

                                            Do they have haddock and Pacific Halibut? How are the prices?

                                            1. re: jayt90

                                              Penrose has been around, and getting mucho hype, for decades. I've never liked anything about the place - anything!

                                              I'll admit that many people disagree. They claim they still fry everything in real beef fat. Portions have never been generous and they are expensive for what they are. I've always found Old Yorke much better. Reliable also, though I haven't been there since the recent spate of blah reviews.

                                              It seems that almost every chippy in the GTA gets their supplies from the same source, Rycott Foodservice in Hamilton, though I believe they supply frozen product as well as fresh.

                                              1. re: embee

                                                Rycrott isn't he only foodservice source so isn't it possible that at least some places are supplied by Sysco? They have both fresh and frozen products.


                                                1. re: foodyDudey

                                                  They're hardly the only one. There's Sysco, Gordon, Stewart, and a whole bunch more. But I've seen Rycott delivering to just about every chippy, good and bad, in East Toronto. I know they started out as a fresh fish market. They seem to have extremely high penetration in this particular niche, if not an actual lock on it.

                                                  1. re: embee

                                                    Looking at their website, Rycott appears to be a frozen food company operating out of Stoney Creek. No mention of fresh fish.
                                                    However I recall some reports on our F&C threads of halibut being sliced by hand.
                                                    I have seen Sobey's doing this when Pacific halibut is in season.

                                                    My question is, "Do any F&C shops get fresh Pacific halibut or fresh haddock ?" Being somewhat fussy, I'm not as interested in frozen (can do that at home) or depleted Atlantic halibut or cod.

                                                2. re: embee

                                                  Yeah, I don't get the Penrose love either. I can't quite get past the bad smell of the place and the food is not worth the price, the wait, the smell, or the awkward (for me) location.

                                                  Old Yorke is better in every respect and in the same general area. British Style remains my favourite if I'm up for a thicker batter. I used to love Reliable's fish, but, have had some mediocre and increasingly thin/small fish recently.

                                                  British Style
                                                  73 Coxwell Ave, Toronto, ON M4L3B1, CA

                                                  1. re: Atahualpa

                                                    Penrose is overhyped, overpriced and undersized. The place blows. British Style on the other hand is my go to place and I've been there before and after the sale and it's still my favourite.

                                                    British Style
                                                    73 Coxwell Ave, Toronto, ON M4L3B1, CA

                                              2. re: lamaranthe

                                                I went to Penrose about 10 years ago and never returned.

                                              3. I was at Frank McNie's last week and the F&C were great. Always has been my experience that the place does a good job since they opened.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Herne

                                                  Do you mean High Street on Underhill?

                                                  High Street
                                                  55 Underhill Dr, Toronto, ON M3A2J8, CA

                                                  1. re: Herne

                                                    Or Frank McNie's on Burnamthorpe?

                                                    1. re: embee

                                                      Yup... cause Frank McNie's no longer at McNie's...

                                                  2. Is there any fish and chip shop in Toronto that has the fried fish looking like this?


                                                    That is what it should look like. I tried New Galley up in Richmond Hill and was severely disappointed. I should have checked the pictures on here before I went.

                                                    This is NOT what it should like. This indicates that batter is too heavy. It should be light and airy giving it that uneven texture, and not one smooth surface.

                                                    New Galley
                                                    10737 Yonge St, Richmond Hill, ON L4C, CA

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: ManAbout

                                                      Re: Reliable. Pete, the retired guy who came to Picton in the early 80s to open Schooners F&C, grew up at Logan & Queen. Back then he told me that he had been eating at Reliable for 50 yrs and their batter hadn't changed one bit in all that time. So, I ate there a lot in the late 80s early 90s and it was great. Sad to see such an excellent product go down the tubes.