Monday, 14 May 2012

The Fish Place - The Other Side of the Table

A new feature we are rolling out here on the YMM food critic is quite simply someone elses' take on the restaurant. I normally do not dine alone and I'm welcoming anyone who does dine with me to blog the same restaurant and add in their impression. For the First one we have Fiona (@fimango) with her impression on the Fish Place. Enjoy!

Like Eric (@ymmfoodcritic), I too have lived in Fort McMurray for over a decade and haven’t had the pleasure of stopping in at The Fish Place for a meal. Unlike Eric, I love seafood, so I was quite excited to give it a try! In a typical foodie manner, I googled the restaurant before heading there to check out the menu. To my surprise, they don’t have a website, and urban spoon’s website only had three reviews on the restaurant, none of which were detailed or helpful. Their rating, based on 51 people’s votes, was an overall 72% of people “liking it.”

So walking into the clearly East coast-inspired restaurant, I had no idea what to expect. The walls were a cheerful sunshine yellow color and the tables a blue and sandy yellow décor with wooden floors. We were greeted with a cheerful smile and a Newfoundland dialect that, living in Fort McMurray for so long, I’ve become familiar with and have come to love. After being seated in the lively restaurant and getting our drinks, we ordered the alligator appetizer and the Cajun shrimp and mahi-mahi for our entrees.

The Louisiana Gator, at $10.99, was sautéed in a creamed whisky sauce and came with about six pieces of meat, a lemon slice, two pieces of garlic toast and the parsley garnish. Gator meat is extremely low in fat compared to other meats which makes the texture a little tougher and harder to chew than the beef that we’re all too familiar with in Alberta. Because of this, I appreciated the fact that the gator was pre-cut into small, bite-sized pieces. I found the sauce was a bit too salty for my taste, and while quite delicious otherwise, it seemed to overpower the very subtle, natural taste of the gator.This wasn’t my first time trying alligator and for those who haven’t tried it, it doesn’t “taste like chicken” despite what you might have been told.  For a few bites, I ended up just scraping away the sauce so I could taste the actual essence of gator meat.

The shrimp Eric ordered was off the lunch menu and, at $15.99, was described as a New Orleans-style Cajun Shrimp and came with either rice or pasta; Eric opted for the short-grained rice . Cajun cuisine is indigenous to the Acadian region of the USA, namely Louisiana, and is typically seasoned with black or cayenne pepper, neither of which was prominent in this dish. , There was no heat or complexity to the dish at all, and I don’t think either Eric or I were too impressed with the plate. A couple notable redeeming qualities to mention though: The sauce appeared to be house-made (so it wasn’t just an opened jar of Ragu tomato pasta sauce, although it tasted suspiciously similar), and the number of shrimp in the dish was impressive. There was a lot! Portion size was definitely impressive for both main dishes.

The Cajun mahi mahi topped with pineapple salsa that I ordered was off the specials menu for $20.99. The presentation included slices of carrot and parsnip, a baked potato, slice of orange, sprig of parsley and the fish. The main part of the dish was awesome; I don’t have a single negative thing to say about the mahi mahi--the heat from the Cajun spices gently lingered in my mouth, wasn’t overpowering, and I was able to appreciate the complexity of the spices and still taste the fish. The meat itself was perfectly cooked – nicely browned on the outside, and the flesh inside was flaky and extremely moist. Moving away from the fish, I was pleasantly surprised to see the parsnip on my plate! I feel it’s an extremely unappreciated, underused vegetable that tastes great! The pineapple salsa was made of pineapples, red peppers, red onion and tiny bits of green pepper or jalapeño (cut too small for me to differentiate). It had the perfect amount of sour zing with a dash of salt and a bit of sweetness.

While we were there, Eric tweeted that we were at the fish place, and a fellow tweeter suggested we try the cheesecake. We had two choices: either Key lime or French vanilla. We went with the French vanilla, and the no-bake cheesecake came with whipped cream and strawberries on top. The vanilla flavor wasn’t pronounced, but I did appreciate that the cheese cake had a whipped texture and was actually more of a cheesecake flavored mousse than the American New York style cheesecake I’ve come to expect. Nevertheless, it was quite tasty! Thanks for the tip Melissa! (@BellyDancinGeek)

As for the service, throughout our meal, we were very well taken care of. It was a fairly busy Saturday afternoon, but the service was extremely prompt. Our server came by multiple times, always with a smile on her face, to ask us how we were doing, to refill our drinks and to take away empty dishes. All in all, while I didn’t absolutely love the food, the service was awesome! I've always been an avid supporter of independently-owned restaurants like The Fish Place so I wouldn’t mind visiting again and seeing what else their menu has to offer!
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed reading my take on The Fish Place.
Fiona (@fimango) 

p.s. Special mention to James who was kind enough to quickly do the blog edit. Thank you!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Fish Place - May 12 2012

I've more or less been a resident of Fort McMurray for the past 12 years and I will have to admit this was my first time going to The Fish Place. I'm not one for fish, nor am I one for places that fish is what the place is all about. I decided to bite the bullet and see for myself why this part of Fort McMurray's food culture has been thriving and see what I've been missing.

I didn't end up taking pictures of the interior but I will admit I found it very fitting, in a good way. The name of the restaurant resonates throughout the whole restaurant. Lobster traps, nautical upholstery on the bench seats and the tables too. I really enjoyed this aspect of it.

The servers were friendly and despite how busy this place was on a Saturday afternoon we were well looked after.

For starters we went with the Alligator. Now I've never had alligator before so I wasn't too sure what to expect. the meat itself isn't bad and the sauce it was served in was good but for a guy who's all about pub food it was certainly a change of taste. Paired with the garlic bread and it turned into a great way to start off lunch.

For my meal I ordered off the lunch menu and got the New Orleans style Cajun Shrimp on Rice. What I was anticipating was something that was spicy, a little bit of heat and what I got was this:

Now if they said it was Italian, then yeah I wouldn't have ordered it but I would have at least understood what this was trying to be. This looked and tasted like it came out of a spaghetti sauce bottle. There was no hint of cajun spice that I was anticipating . Fiona (@fimango) on the other hand got the Mahi Mahi with pineapple salsa:

And for a guy that doesn't like fish, I absolutely loved this. I would recommend this meal in a heart beat. The fish was done perfectly and was moist, full of flavour and extremely appealing.
While dining, I mentioned on twitter that I was here for lunch and Melissa (@BellydancinGeek) recommended the cheese cake for dessert, let me just say this was awesome.

 While my main course wasn't what I was expecting nor was it all that appealing, everything else that we had made up for it. I recommend the Mahi Mahi and I recommend the cheese cake. If you're feeling adventurous try the alligator but unless you're a fan of italian cajun shrimp I would stay clear of the New Orleans Cajun shrimp. I would most certainly come back and try more items off of the menu. It was a pleasant experience and I can really see why this place has been a main stay in Fort McMurray.

Side Note: I'm going to try to do more blogging in the future. Make sure to follow me on twitter: or on my personal account