HFX Fish ‘n’ Chips Quest: U-Pick-Fish
U-Pick-Fish (Truck Side)
600 Windmill Rd, Dartmouth
This will be my third summer of fish ‘n’ chips questing. You can see the 11 places I’ve already visited by clicking here.
I’ve kicked off the summer of 2015 with a trip to Truck Side – a brand new “food truck food court” in Burnside. Yeah, you heard me right. It’s a food truck-themed food court and the first of its kind in Canada. They put a lot of work into the place and it looks great! There are 3 trucks: Lil Eatily, Gweilo and U-Pick-Fish, serving up Italian fusion, Asian fusion and seafood, respectively. The trucks are stationary – more of a theme than actual food trucks. Truck Side also connects to neighbouring Cheese Curds and Habaneros, also of the Chef Bill Pratt empire!
And there’s a patio, if you prefer sunshine with your fish ‘n’ chips!
The truck themes are based on Toronto’s Little Italy, Montreal’s Chinatown and the East Coast. The general decor has sort of a “Canadian road trip” theme with murals depicting the country from coast to coast. Via Rail traverses the Canadian Prairies en route to the mountains of BC. There is even a replica of one of the Halifax bridges.
I spent a lot of time just examining the decor, reminded of my own cross Canada road trip of 2009.
We lined up at U-Pick’s blue tartan truck to check out the seafood menu.
You get to pick your fish: pollock, hadddock, cod, salmon, halibut, calamari, shrimp or scallops. Why anyone would pick pollock eludes me, but at $5.50/piece it is the cheapest option. Halibut, for example, is $9.95/piece.
You get to pick your cooking style: Mega Crunch, English Beer Batter, Tempura, Panko, Pan-fried or Baked. Mega Crunch is the house specialty. We were told that some cooking styles are better with some types of fish than others. For example, we were advised against ordering a panko crusted haddock.
You get to pick your side: hand-cut fries, curly fries, sweet potato fries, poutine, red smashed potatoes, cajun dirty rice, cilantro lime rice, creamy coleslaw. These are not included in the price of your fish, and range in size depending on whether you want a full order or a side order. We just went with a side order of fries ($2.50) and a coleslaw ($1.50).
You get to pick your sauce: You get one complimentary sauce with your meal. There is also a standard ketchup pump nearby.
We ordered two pieces of haddock ($6.50/piece) – one Mega Crunch style and the other beer battered. We also ordered a piece of tempura battered cod ($6.50/piece). Halfway through ordering, we were told “The cod is really good today!”
A 1pc haddock fish ‘n’ chips with coleslaw will run you $10.50 here, which isn’t cheap. But you do get a hefty piece of fish, which ought to be enough to fill you up.
My brother preferred the Mega Crunch, which was indeed quite crunchy. I preferred the English battered, which I found to be more flavourful. I wasn’t sold on the haddock, which seemed a little dry.
The cod was much better! – as recommended. However, the tempura batter didn’t work quite as well (as we were warned) and was a little over-cooked.
I wish I had ordered the cod in the English-style batter. That would have been just right.
The French fries were decent and the tartar sauce was superb. The coleslaw was fresh, but simple.
The idea of customized ordering is exciting until you realize that unless you order the right things done the best ways, you may end up with an inferior meal. This is similar to dining at Cheese Curds or Habaneros, in that the customer has the freedom to ruin their own meal with their own poor choices – but in this case especially, the customer relies on staff suggestions when it comes to unknowns like fish quality and batter pairing.
You could have a really good meal here, or you may not.
We enjoyed our fish ‘n’ chips, with only a few regrets.