“The fish and chips is to die for!” an enthusiastic voice roars behind us. We’re reading the menu in the entrance to Coach’s, a pub and grill that has taken over the former Mike’s location in Lower Sackville.
We turn around to thank the voice for the recommendation, and I immediately decide we’re going to eat here. The fish and chip aficionado is a big, burly, ball-hatted, beer-gutted man—appearance-wise, not the sort given to using phrases like “to die for.”
Superficially, this place looks like a good bet.
Once we’re seated in a booth, our server brings our menu and when asked for further recommendations, tells us “everything is good.” Hmmm, non-committal—could be good, like everything really is good. Or it could be bad, and she doesn’t want to be blamed for the food choices when they don’t work out. As it turns out, most of what we order is good, so she needn’t have worried.
We try a number of items starting with the soup of the day ($3.49), in this case a thick minestrone, served with a roll and crackers. The huge bowl of hearty, flavourful soup, laden with fresh vegetables, is big enough to serve as a meal. It’s a little on the salty side, but that can be overlooked for the homemade taste.
The veggie stir-fry ($8.99) is full of crunchy good vegetables and tossed in a very light sauce, although the accompanying rice might be better if it were steamed and not so greasy.
A rib-eye ($9.99) is exactly what you expect a good cheap steak to be: it’s a little gristly, but otherwise, it’s tender and tasty and cooked as ordered. The mushrooms and onions ($1.99) are extra and come on the side in a big oval dish. There are tons of them, all sauteed and spicy and not greasy at all—they’re delish. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the baked potato, which is the only truly bad thing about the meal—it tastes like it was baked to death three days ago and then microwaved to hell before being put on the plate. A potato like that is inedible, no matter how much sour cream comes alongside.
Of course, after the positive endorsement, we have to order the fish and chips. Two pieces ($8.99) with fries, the hand-cut style (but possibly a frozen product), some tartar sauce and coleslaw come all piled high on a big plate. The fish is crisp, with a medium batter that’s neither too heavy nor too thin. White and flaky and not at all dry on the inside, golden brown and not at all greasy on the outside, this is very good fish indeed. I have had better fish and chips, but not by much, and while I might not say “to die for,” I would say “to stab someone in the hand with my fork if they tried to take a piece while I was eating for.”
For dessert, there’s not a very wide selection, but our server has no hesitation in recommending something called a “Heart Attack.”
We go for that, which turns out to be a scoop of vanilla ice cream, four small brownies, whipped cream and chocolate sauce ($4.99). It’s not so much a heart attack as maybe chest pains that eventually turn out to be gas; that is, it’s not the gargantuan dessert we envisioned, but it’s still pretty good.
Coach’s has great service and good cheap eats—in short, everything you want in a neighbourhood bar.
Coach’s Pub and Grill552 Sackville Drive864-5644Mon-Wed 11am-9pmThu-Sat 11am-10pmSun 12-9pm
Liz Feltham’s online review archive is to die for: www.foodcritic.ca