HFX Fish ‘n’ Chips Quest: Phil’s Seafood
Quinpool Road is becoming an exciting mix of new and old restaurants, with classic institutions neighbouring a multicultural mix. The Ardmore Tearoom has been around since 1958, Freeman’s Pizza since 1956, Athens Restaurant since 1982, and King of Donair since 1973. I had always thought Phil’s Seafood was a remnant of the 1970’s but it is not so! The restaurant opened in 2003, so it has only been serving its breaded fish ‘n’ chips for a decade.
Phil Perrin stumbled upon his recipe while working at the Armdale Yacht Club. The dish was so successful he set up shop at the Melville Cove Snack Bar, before finally expanding to the Quinpool Road location.
I was pleasantly surprised by the breading. It had no resemblance to the shake’n’bake style pan-fried haddock I grew up eating. The exterior was crispy and not greasy. This is not pan-fried haddock, nor is it battered fish in the proper sense. It is uniquely Phil’s signature recipe, and it is a solid dish – especially at $6.25 for a generous 1pc fish ‘n’ chips ($9.50 for a 2pc). I should also mention that bottles of beer are as cheap as $4!
You can also get garden, caesar or spinach salad rather than the fries, which are hand-cut, but under-seasoned. I was happy to see a triad of ketchup, white vinegar and tartar sauce arrive at the table.
The fillets were thin, resembling pan-fried haddock in shape and size. This balanced the texture of the thin breading with the flesh of the fish. The meal wasn’t overly flavourful, but it was otherwise well prepared. The coleslaw wasn’t as crisp and fresh as the coleslaw at John’s Lunch, but it did have a pleasant robustness to it.
I was very curious about the clams and fries ($13.95) but I simply didn’t have the capacity. My server insisted that they were “soooo good!” and that an unlisted half portion is available for $9.95 (just ask). Next time, maybe! I’m starting to think next summer I’ll have to do a clams ‘n’ chips quest. But as for my final verdict on Phil’s: I don’t know that this is what I would eat when I’m craving fish ‘n’ chips. However, it is a solid classic dish that holds its own in the Quinpool neighbourhood.
Next up: The Battered Fish, Evans Seafood, Fries & Co.