The Maritimes are all about seafood, and when it comes to seafood, you can't get much cheaper than the ubiquitous fish & chips, found at thousands of chip trucks, hole-in-the-walls and even fine dining establishments. But, sadly, Halifax is losing its fish & chips mojo – even once famed establishments have degraded horribly, and far too many kitchens seem to be using frozen fish trucked in by Cisco, overcooked in oil that's been sitting around for weeks. Fortunately there are still some places that get it right, and Tim Bousquet steers us the right direction.
Fredie's Fantastic Fish House 8 Oland Crescent, 450-3474
Besides the liquor store and the odd "really wild stuff in nature!" film at the Imax, there's only one reason to go to Bayers Lake, and that's Tammy Frederick's jewel of a lunch counter stuck in an otherwise nondescript strip mall. Come for the properly prepared haddock---not overly breaded, cooked in fresh oil, fluffy and moist---stay for the over-the-top friendly women working the counter, including Fredie herself.
Phil's Seafood 6285 Quinpool Road, 431-3474
Phil's is a stripped-down, no nonsense establishment, a few vaguely nautical decorations placed here and there, but not so much as to be tacky. Otherwise, just bare walls, a simple menu, the same waiter with the same gently manner for each of the dozens times I've visited, plus some anonymous cook in the back (Phil, I'm guessing). To be honest, I haven't tried anything else on the menu, because the fish & chips are simply outstanding – perfection, every visit.
Mic Mac Bar & Grill 215 Waverley Road, 434-7600
The very day I moved to Nova Scotia, I stopped at the Mic Mac for dinner. Talk about your culture shock---back then, they still had the men serving beer, while the women took food orders. It's evolved a tad since then---the women are allowed to carry beer---but only a bit. The scene is still about as Dartmouth as Dartmouth gets, with the same down-home crowd, the same funk and, most important, the same fish, cooked to the same high quality.
Jamieson's Irish House & Grill 5 Cumberland Drive, 433-0500
Jamieson's is an odd bird---a real, honest pub stuck out a wide spot in the road that is otherwise just the soulless sprawl of Cole Harbour. There are lots of good reasons to drop by---including the wide beer selection, the friendly staff, the relaxed atmosphere---and one excellent reason: an incredibly flakey fish, lightly breaded and cooked correctly.