My first visit to Fredie's was when "Fredie" Tammy Frederick opened a little trailer in Tantallon that sold the very best lobster roll I'd ever eaten. Frederick is a rare sort of manager, one who truly appreciates her staff as much as she appreciates her customers, and works hard to keep both sets of people very happy.
When her success brought her to a new location, in the BLIP (along with more permanent digs in Tantallon), it wasn't long before I took advantage of the much more convenient spot to indulge a little more often; it's been awhile though, and time for me to see how the Fishhouse has fared.
We pull up on a weekday evening and the place is packed with hungry patrons lined up at the counter, waiting for orders. There are a couple of places to sit, a long counter and a higher one up against the windows, but we're going to sit outside and take advantage of the beautiful weather. There are a few tables wrapped around the outside of the corner-placed diner, with little caddies carrying regular and malt vinegar.
Fredie's menu is, as you might expect, full of seafood (though there are hamburgers, hotdogs and chicken fingers); it's largely deep-fried (though that guilt is alleviated somewhat by the promise of zero trans fat oil) and it's hand-cut fry heaven.
Tonight we're sampling clams and chips ($13.95), which I've not had here before, and the fish and chips ($7.95 for two pieces).
As we place our order, I notice something I'm not keen about at all---one of the fry ladies is plating an order of fish with her fingers, and has not washed her hands after taking somebody's cash. Now, I know the food is deep fried, I know it's not fine dining and I know worse things happen behind the doors of a lot of kitchens. It's jarring nonetheless, because for a little takeout counter, this restaurant is spotless (right down to the bathroom, nice enough to eat in).
Not bothersome enough to keep me from drooling when our food is set in front of us, though. Plates heaped high with the above-mentioned hand-cut fries as well the newest offering, sweet potato fries. We're knee deep in clams, too. No mistaking the fish for fishsticks because, like everything else, the portionsare huge.
The sweet potato fries are standard convenience product (something you don't see much of at Fredie's), and there's not much you can say about them, other than they are what they are. The regular fries are yummy good, though.
On to the clams. The worst clams are slimy, gritty, overbattered and undercooked. The best fried clams are lightly battered, golden brown, with no trace of grit. These are definitely the best clams.
Fish is the specialty and what Fredie's does best---I've never had a disappointment in ordering fish here. Fresh, flaky, fabulous.
I bring in our empty plates and notice a new sign on the counter---homemade vegetable soup---guess that'll be another reason for me to come back.
Aside from the bare-handed food handling, there are no faults with the service. The server who takes our order brings it out to us, and then comes round to make sure it's all good---certainly a level above your typical fish and chip place, and it speaks to Frederick's guest service values.
Once again, Fredie's lives up to its name and comes through with a fantastic meal.
Liz Feltham started reviewing restaurants out of a roadside trailer in foodcritic.ca.