Saturday, November 5, 2011

Jack n' Joes, or Barb's and ol' Nellie's?

Joe's Seafood Bar
1208 Wharf Street
Victoria, BC
(250) 590-6323

If I could write a nursery rhyme with Jack and Joe, going up the hill, and sailing the tumultuous seas, I’m sure they'd be hanging on for the ride of their life. Jack’s Fish Spot is based in Pike Place Market, in Seattle, where they get their fish from the sea, and Joe’s Seafood Bar gets most of their product from Wharfside Seafood & Grille.

This detail was stated to me by the staff member who was tending the pier side of the operation. It makes me wonder about their advertising about where they source their food from. They say it is from local fisherman, when possible, but that be after Wharfside gets the pick of the litter.


For the most part, the products that Joes offer will vary day by day, and the time of when this place is visited. At least at Jack, I can see what is freshly available, laying in front of the operation, than trying to guess upon arrival. I observed crab being cleaned and packaged while I ate, and saw the deep friers making their crispy magic instead of me wondering what goes on behind the scenes. Barb's has a bit of a view of the kitchen but nobody is really there to watch their food being cooked.

But wait, there is also two Nellie's in town. Nautical Nellies, is located downtown, which I visited a long time ago, but there's also Naughty Nellie's Not Just Fish & Chips in Gordon Head, along Shelbourne Street.

In the two times I’ve been to Joes, they didn’t have what I was hoping for to eat. There’s a small sign that tells patrons about what’s not available, which is good, but just how many people will notice? The sign has to bash me over the head and be huge before I’ll see it, and maybe I can attack the starfish circling around my head.

Yes within my culture, especially in Beijing, starfish is cooked up and offered as a fast food. I could even go for seahorse too. Mmm, Traditional Chinese Medicine on a stick. Who would have thunk it? But I digress.

At least with Joe’s, I’m hoping the third time will be the charm when I go there on an evening hour. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll see calamari finally being offered. The first time I was here, it wasn't available. I had a simple fish taco. I only ordered one pan seared bay scallop, which was okay. The scallops were dry and tasted overcooked. They were very chewy. Also, I didn’t think the tortilla was grilled at all. It didn’t retain the warmth that I was expecting from it. Despite what their flyer does not say about this meal, it comes served with a small cup of coleslaw.

I was pleasantly surprised at this salad. It was delicious and non-creamy. Their idea of a slaw is to simply cut the cabbage up into fine slices, dress it up with carrots and sprinkle it with crunchy sunflower seeds. I’m sold! Red Fish Blue Fish, which rests on the opposite side of the wharf, should take some lessons from Joe’s.

In another visit, I finally dragged James out of his home, and treated him to a round of fish and chips. The wedge fries are decent, but it’s not a style that I particularly like. I had to see what they’re like for readers before changing to yams. In my opinion, they aren't too bad. The extra crispy ones were easy to pick and nibble on, but the rest, they lacked something that not even a double frying process can save them from. I gave the rest to James.

The Pacific Cod that we had was very good. It had a good meaty and moist texture. It was warm to the taste buds and the batter—that’s something I can easily rave about. It’s a beer batter that's spiced up and made from Driftwood Ale. When contrasted to the tartar sauce, it made for some great crispiness which made the fish stand at attention. The cooks here just have to be careful in the frying process. I didn’t hit upon some burnt batter until I tried the second fish. The first one had a great golden colour which made the first bite great. Too bad the successive ones didn't quite make the grade.

3 blokes out of 5

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