I know fish isn’t for everyone, but you can’t get away from the media brainwashing us with the health benefits of fish as though we’re some fatty-acid deficient zombies. The jingle ladened commercials of my youth never mentioned the Omega-3s that we have become such perverts for – they only preached consuming our strawberries if it came rolled up in plastic, listening to some red-headed clown and his posse pedal a nutritious family McMeal, then washing everything down with monosyllabic neon coloured drinks packed with wholesome goodness that ate holes into your teeth while you slept. I mean, eating healthy isn’t all about twigs and berries and stuff you’d line the bottom of a hamster cage… where was I going with this? Oh yeah, fish. You don’t like fish? Hack it.
Fish and chips
I’ve noticed that I usually start my posts with some sort of remark about the weather. I find that the weather usually dictates the food that I eat, or at least the mood in which I decide what to eat. On a dreary raining but not raining weekday afternoon in October, a friend and I decided to hit the pavement in search of food. So with a spit of a drizzle hitting our faces and the thoughts of the imminent warmth of a hot food warming our minds, we headed to Comptoir 21.
Comptoir 21 is a local fish and chip joint that popped up on the corner of St. Viateur and The Main. The menu is straight forward and simple. Like it’s namesake, the highlight of the menu is fish and chips (duh), however it does also include some burgers for ye land-lovers.
I started with their homemade clam chowder. The New England style chow-dah (a la Mayor Quimby) was rich and creamy; it was also colored a tinge of yellow – I attribute this to the use of the Yukon Golds in the soup, and consequently Comptoir 21’s exclusive spud of choice, based on the sacks upon sacks piled near the door.
We also split an order of fried calamari with a paprika, mayo-based sauce. It was fried up in battery goodness (battered goodness, not the stuff that makes your tv remote work), however, it was just a tad mushy. I can only assume this was due to the fact that the product was once frozen and was not dried properly or enough before being fried; this would result in the squid steaming itself cooked; not giving you that snap or crunch that you’re usually accustomed too. However, still something I would try again.
We split the fish and chips. This order comes in a full and half order; you can order also have the fish alone, with fries, or with poutine. Light and fluffy the fish was fried to a crispy battered perfection. When we cut into the fish beignet, the fish was steaming hot, a great sign that the internal temperature was enough to cook the fish as well as not make you feel like you’re eating a soggy questionable deppaneur pita-wrap. It came with a choice of sauce we we opted for the original tartar sauce – amongst a whole list of choices.
We also split the fish burger. Following the same formula that most burger places are going by, you are able to choose the ingredients and toppings in your burger. I chose sauteed onions, mayo, dijon and lettuce. I asked and the waitress said that they use only Haddock, this is a welcomed change to the McRegurgitate with McIndustrial-waste sauce that everyone is used to. Also, the fries; deep fried Yukon golds with the skin on – the ONLY way fries should be served.
Also worth mentioning is the malt vinegar that have counter top for you to season your plates; they also have white vinegar in spritzer bottles which is fun; to get a mist of vinegar all over the place, especially when the door opens and creates a draft, but I guess that’s all part of the experience.
Like the chicken and the egg, I don’t know which came first; the name or the counter? Regardless, sitting next to strangers – a plateau hipster on the left and a suited-up businessman on the right – elbowing each other while chowing down on some old time Quebec inspired English grub adds to the charm of Comptoir 21. The U-shaped counter lends its Montreal casse-croute, greasy-spoon feeling to the place. Honest and simple food at a price you cannot beat, this is the type of place that if you’re lucky, you might come out of there forgetting the difference between, chips, crisps and fries.
21 St-Viateur W.