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Fresco's Fish and Chips

Posted by Kaela Greenstien / Reviewed on March 27, 2011 / review policy

Frescos KensingtonFresco Fish and Chips is a take-out joint located across the street from Kensington Park, ideal sitting grounds for a takeaway meal. Having grown up in a small fishing community on the coast of BC, I expect fish and chips to be served straight off the docks with seagulls looming overhead and the scent of salt air permeating the air. However, in Kensington Market, pigeons looms overhead and the smell of pot permeates the air.

Location aside, fish and chips are normally a pretty standard deep-fried affair. Fresco, however, sets itself apart by using a high-quality, non-hydrogenated, trans-fat free canola/corn oil blend. All the fish used are top-quality, fresh Ocean Wise sustainable. The chips are also of the best quality. Owner Michael Fresco tested over 300 pounds of potatoes- he's admittedly a little sick of chips now- before settling on Ontario grown Russet potatoes.

Frescos TorontoPlaying up the British origins of fish and chips, Michael decided to take his love of the Beatles as the theme for his shop. Michael can be found sporting a black Beatles cap, while posters of the group cover the store and provide the soundtrack.

I shared an order of the cod and chips ($9.73 - top photo) with my friend and it was suggested that we try the popular option of half regular and half extra-crispy Miss Vicky's chips batter. Michael later told me that he worked arduously perfecting his signature Miss Vicky's recipe, consulting chef friends on how to get it just right; it certainly paid off.

The unique batter was certainly delicious; it was thick and crispy and a perfect compliment to the tender cod. I much preferred it over the original batter which was too doughy for my liking. However, my friend felt the opposite and preferred the original recipe batter - each to their own batter I suppose. The serving size was generous and easily shareable. The Russet potato fries, or chips, were thick, crispy and perfectly cooked.

Frescos Fish and ChipsI came back another day to try out the vegan poutine, a great Canadian influence. I tried a small chile version ($5.97) and admittedly, it doesn't look terribly appetizing in the photo. Regardless it was a gooey, thick, Daya cheese-filled container of thigh-fattening joy. A small order was enough for a meal and I'll definitely be going back to try the traditional Quebec version.

Fried PickelsI also tried a small order of deep-fried pickles ($4.87) which, as a big pickle fan, got me pretty excited. The small order came with 5 pieces of pickles sliced lengthwise into quarters, lightly battered and deep-fried. They were a delicious side for sure, something I imagine pregnant women would go nuts over. I washed it all down with a Boylan's Black Cherry Soda ($2.25).

The food at Fresco's is great, however, you might get stuck trying to pay since they only take cash and the prices add up. Even off the docks in BC, the fishermen take cards!

Fresco Fish and Chips brings more to the table than a standard take-out fish and chips restaurant. Michael is committed to providing Torontonians with fish and chips that are good for you and the environment - a hefty task considering after all, it is fish and it is deep-fried. His commitment shows with his use of "healthy" oil, "sustainable" fish and biodegradable packaging. Owner Michael and his Beatle-loving ways have put a delicious Canadian spin on this standard British fare.

Vegetarians and Vegans, come and try the poutine!

FrescosMon-Thu 11 am - 8 pm
Fri 11 am - 10 pm
Sat 12 pm - 10 pm
Sun 12 pm - 8 pm



WorkNearKensington / March 28, 2011 at 09:32 am
Thanks for the review! I'll have to give them a try soon.
Gabe / March 28, 2011 at 10:27 am
Love this place! First F&S joint in a long while that's tasty AND light on the stomach.
the lemur / March 28, 2011 at 10:37 am
Does anyone know of a fish & chips place that has absolutely no shellfish? I mean no crab cakes, no shrimp, no scallops ... just FISH and chips?
Brandon / March 28, 2011 at 10:59 am
This place is great. Super fresh and delicious, not all greasy and overbearing.
Paul / March 28, 2011 at 11:23 am
This place makes the best fish and chips I've ever had. Definitely better than anywhere else I've been in the city.
Elie / March 28, 2011 at 01:33 pm
NICE to see Ocean Wise fish on this menu. Finally people are realizing that how we've been eating our fish isn't sustainable. Great also to see some competition for Chippy's and their wanker owner John Lee. He's an idiot and doesn't source ethically AT ALL.
Drew / March 28, 2011 at 01:33 pm
Looking at the pictures they, like everywhere else in the city that says they sell "fish and chips", should be honest and say "Fish & French Fries" because they are not chips. In all of these cases the focus is always on the fish, getting the batter right and all that and the chips are an after-thoguht. However in the UK the Fish and Chip Shop is most often referred to as the 'Chippy' or "Chip Shop' with the quality of the chips being as important as anything else and often the only thing purchased as a late night snack given the ease of carrying. Drowned in malt vinegar and salt.

Anyway. There you go. After a decade of trying these various places I have given up finding one that can create an authentic chip.
M.Vee replying to a comment from Drew / March 28, 2011 at 03:08 pm
I feel sad for you that you spent a decade of your life looking for "the authentic chip". It's all a matter of opinion. These look pretty spot on compared to the chips I've had overseas. You need to lighten up.


I don't eat fish because I am a weenie, but this review makes this place sound amazing. I will definitely stop by for some chips or pickles, and will bring my mum when she visits in the summer!
Andrew / March 28, 2011 at 09:35 pm
I just tried The one that got away, although good it had a little too much of a salty taste to it. My 1st visit to Queen and Beaver Pub I had the best f&c in TO, the 2nd visit they just tasted ok. I have to try it one more time.

I will most certainly visit Fresco's.
lonewolf / March 29, 2011 at 01:31 am
Kaela G's article brought back a memory of a familiar favorite of mine dock side in B.C.,oyster burgers!Seagulls flying around the dock while you ate.Fisherman bringing in the crabs,fish,prawns,if you love seafood,drop by a coastal dock:)Back to Fresco's,couldn't read the corner of the picture of the menue;do they have chowder?Chippy's,I finally tried this winter,and it wasn't all that. Did take out with my cooler bag to keep meals hot. The plastic tarter sauce container melted in the boxes that contained my f&c,and fish cakes :( Even though I went to Chippy's for f&c,fish cakes were better.Will give Fresco's a try if I have green backs. Thanks for the heads up;I'm a plastics person.
r g replying to a comment from Drew / March 29, 2011 at 10:39 am
drew, why dont u go try it instead of being an a-hole and just looking at pictures
Joel replying to a comment from Drew / March 30, 2011 at 04:54 pm
If you spent a decade trying to find an authentic and not finding it, why don't you make your own?
Ali / March 31, 2011 at 11:59 am
My friend and I went and tried this place yesterday, and we both conclude that it's the best Fish and Chips we've had in Toronto. Michael, the owner is so friendly and he told us the complete story behind the 300 pounds of potato haha. Great place, def going again.

P.S. Try their special batter, its heavenly
Rachel / April 3, 2011 at 10:29 am
This is a lovely review, thanks for putting this place on my map. And again, many, many, many thanks for including vegetarians and vegans!
Anon / April 6, 2011 at 05:52 am
You have got to be kidding if you honestly thing there will be a Fish and Chip shop here in Toronto comparable to those in the UK. There is not a single one that is TRUE to a UK Fish and Chip Shop. As for M.Vee saying these were "pretty spot on", you have got to be kidding me. Have you really ever tried REAL Fish and chip chips?
marie / April 6, 2011 at 01:15 pm
This place seriously has the best vegan/vegetarian poutine in Toronto. I've tried Smoke's and Poutini's and didn't like the gravy or the way the fries were cooked in either. This place has amazing, mushroomy gravy and the fries are always perfect. The vegan cheese is great (though I usually go for regular cheese with the mushroom gravy). The vegetarian chili fries are pretty darn good too, and the owner is always friendly. One of my favourite food spots in Kensington. Definitely my favourite poutine place in Toronto.
Christian / April 8, 2011 at 04:09 pm
Took my sister there for dinner since she lived in Kensington Market years ago. We both had an excellent (and very filling) meal for under $30 (for the two of us). The best fish and chips I've had in a long time.. and I know fish and chips.. I worked at a fish and chips restaurant in university..
Michael Fresco / April 13, 2011 at 07:17 am
First I would like to thank Kaela Greenstien for writing a great review.I would also like to thank everyone else for writing their comments. We now accept Visa, Master card and Interac. See you soon.
S AND H / July 13, 2011 at 11:47 am
.Although i am not a very big Fan of fish due to it not being cookde nicely i decided to get a deal for this place and give it a try. Me and boyfiend went there the other day and he ahs never had fish before too.The fish and chips were amazing and very nicely cooked...We also had the quebec style poutine and that was something new and definetly something to have.The portion was very big and more than enough for the two of us.Michael the owner was so friendly.It was overall a very great experience and i would definetly go there again.

And yeah their special batter made the fish taste even better
zidanmarshall / February 16, 2012 at 11:15 am
Thanks for sharing this information, keep up the good work. online high school | high school diploma | online ged
Sarah / January 20, 2014 at 05:44 pm
AMAZING! Cannot stress AMAZING quebec styled poutine. Best poutine in Toronto in my opinion.
Andrea / January 28, 2014 at 10:25 am
I absolutely recommend this place. Best fish and chips that I've ever had. If you've never had it--ask for the crispy batter. They make it out of Mrs. Vicki's salt and vinegar chips and these calories are worth it.
Nancy / January 11, 2015 at 02:27 pm
Pretty amazing. It's different from the one I had in the UK, but it's good in a different way. My Scottish Colleague swears by this place, though. As someone who cares about the sources of foods, I love how they manage to get Ocean-wise fish and Ontario Russet potatoes.

I can tell that the owner really cares about his business by how nice he is. It's winter and there are only so few seats inside the store, but he asked another patron to move over to a smaller table so I and my company can sit comfortably. At the end, he gave us a free sample of the sweet potato fries because he took a wrong order of someone else's.

I am fairly disappointed by the crab cakes... it was the cheapest item on the menu but maybe I expected a French-style with lumps of crab meat in there rather than starch. I would've totally paid a couple more bucks for crab meat.

Other than that, the battered halibut was amazing.
Mark / June 4, 2015 at 10:02 am
Still looking for an authentic chippy. That means f&c fried in beef drippings, with scraps, mushy peas and curry sauce NOT tartar sauce. Pure yorkshire.
Sandra / July 26, 2015 at 11:22 pm
One day I tried bringing my stroller into the new location on St. Clair but there was a couple young men in Frescos shirts smoking right outside the front door. I passed on another date, and there was a man in a Frescos shirt smoking right on the patio leaning against the open storefront window talking to another employee. Safe to say, I won't be trying to push through the cloud of smoke to get inside, and there must be some health code violations going on there.
Rob replying to a comment from Sandra / August 4, 2015 at 01:59 pm
Sorry Sandra, we sincerely apologize to you for this. We have dealt with the employees in question and it won't be happening again.

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