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Reliable Fish & Chips

Posted by Frank / Reviewed on March 22, 2007 / review policy

Sometimes the map is the territory.

I was prepared to be dazzled-- or in the absence of awe, hoping to at least buoy a Reliable Fish & Chips review on the raft of my unbridled anglophilia and the orthodoxy of an RC upbringing. I mean I wanted to love this place more than I want a new Exploding Hearts album. In the end though, even my optimism couldn't overcome such a powerful 'nomen-est-omen' curse and afford this humble Leslieville chip shop anything besides the tugging downward trajectory of faint-praise. So let the platitudes commence.

My second visit to Reliable started far better than my first (an uneventful visit minutes before when I was cheerily informed that said chip shop was a cash-only establishment which prompted a quick visit to the nearest ATM for some hard currency).

Greeted upon re-entering by the pleasant apron-clad cook/server busily rattling big wire baskets of newly crispy piscine and potato pieces under the friendly gleam of chrome fryer hood and engulfed by the glossy black enamel of the order counter, it's easy to feel at home in such an utterly inoffensive space decked out in the quaintly un-pretentious aura of 40s cape breton beach-cottage chic-- a development, I understand, ironically owing to its recent appearance in an episode of restaurant makeover (the episode actually airs on Monday March 26th, 2007 at 8 pm on the Food Nework).

After ordering a halibut and chips (an unsurprisingly reasonable $6.95) I take a seat in the back end of the mocha wainscoted dining room, squeezing past a group of the local colour gleefully tucking into their fish dinners and ordering "just one more piece of haddock" from the fryer.


Reality sadly sinks its hooks in with the first whiff of my newly arrived order. The plate of fish and chips comes fresh from the fryer slightly greasy smelling and hinting faintly at malodourous ghosts of countless schools of fish that preceded it from the oily depths. Nothing a few squirts of tableside malt vinegar (in handy spray bottles no less) or chilled tomato ketchup can't disguise. Cutting through the adequately crispy batter reveals a slightly overcooked piece of white halibut fillet with a slightly rubbery texture. It's definitely not the best fish I've ever had but neither is it the worst. Tasty enough is unfortunately as descriptive as it's gonna get. Hardly offensive enough to warrant to the righteous indignation of a bad review, it's not the flavour epiphany I was hoping for either. It's easy enough to finish the entire plate and be (although, true to the fashion of this place, underwhelmingly) full and by dinner, forgotten what you'd eaten for lunch.

Ultimately, Reliable Fish & Chips'll do as a place to pop in for a quick bite if you find yourself in this newly gentrified neighbourhood. And though raised by my Catholic mother to not say anything in the absence of anything nice to say, in the case of Reliable Fish & Chips, 'nice' seems the only word that fits.
Reliable Fish & Chips - 954 Queen Street East (at Carlaw) - 416.465.4111



Gloria / March 23, 2007 at 04:44 am
Frank, you like words, don't you?
Fred / March 23, 2007 at 05:54 am
Ha ha. Quite right. A precis of the whole review: adequate.
Ryan C. / March 23, 2007 at 04:02 pm
With so many options, a good old "blah", and "hork" might be a better description. That photo with it unceremoniously sitting on top of a couple of fries is not encouraging. It feels like rubber, and smells like ocean that's been pooed in? Gah...
Danielle / March 23, 2007 at 06:00 pm
Oh sad, I used to work by that place about a year and a half ago and went there nearly every other day for snack or dinner. Their fries are FANTASTIC and I remember the fish being good, not bad, better than decent but not excellent. I haven't been in since the reno however.
Johnny / March 24, 2007 at 06:23 am
Wow, Frank, this might be the most Joycean review for a Fish 'n Chip joint I have ever read. And I mean that in a positive way.
Sarah / August 11, 2007 at 10:20 pm
I have to disagree with the reviewer - the fish here is fantastic. Make sure you try the shrimp and chips...mmmm....oh so tasty. Their tempura-esque batter is oh so yummy.

There are 4 fish-and-chips shops within this neighbourhood -- Reliable tops them all and can hold its' own with any in the city.
Drew / September 19, 2007 at 09:19 am
I agree with Sarah. Not sure where Frank is finding a better chip shop- Having gone on my own personal search for the best Fish & Chip shop around and living in Leslieville- I don't think that I've had better..Reliable does hold its own with ANY Chip joint in this city...Including Queen W's infamous Chippys.
rek / March 28, 2008 at 11:11 am
Reliable is awesome; the batter is light and crispy, there's no oily taste or smell or residue, and the fries are tops. I'll admit I can't tell the difference between haddock, cod and halibut, but I don't consider myself a fish-eater and I go to Reliable about once a week.
apetimberlake / April 4, 2008 at 01:03 pm
That pictures looks amazing!!!
like the fish is going to FLY AWAY its so light
Donna / February 20, 2009 at 11:11 am
I have to agree with the writer. This is not the place for Fish & Chips. The orders are small and not great. When the older Chinese man was there the fish and chips were awesome. The make over they did on the resturant is great too bad the food wasn't.
Wally / March 17, 2009 at 08:09 pm
When Halibut at the grocery store is at almost $20 a pound, then you have to wonder what crap you are paying $6.95 for. A good plate of F & C has to cost $12 these day! You get what you pay for.
Tim S / March 23, 2009 at 11:58 am
Wally: Restaurants don't shop for fish at the grocery store, they buy direct and in bulk from the food depot, direct from suppliers. They get better product for less money than you can buy at a store.
Dominic / May 26, 2009 at 10:19 am
OMG, Frank, they could fry up ten orders by the time anyone finishes reading your clogged blog - who taught you to wite, a fishwife? AUGH!
Dominic / May 26, 2009 at 10:36 am
Sorry, guy, that should be 'write, a fishwife?" my mind was in edit, not spew mode - BTW, that's the best photo of a fish & chip order I've ever seen posted.
V / August 4, 2010 at 09:25 pm
Reliable is a nice fish and chips place. The flavour is superior to that of Chippy's, the batter is light, the fries made from real potatoes.

The best deal is the Jumbo cod + drink for $10 (with tax), or for a more meatier fish try the Mahi Mahi ($12).

Very nice staff and if you come by a couple of times they'll remember your order! The one thing they could improve is making their fries a bit crispier.
steve / December 24, 2011 at 07:57 am
Ben / May 15, 2012 at 05:41 pm
I had 2 piece if Fish and a scoop of chips here and had to throw them out as they tasted terrible nothing like we have back in New Zealand.
mayor dodge / May 29, 2012 at 03:31 pm
Frank, as a reviewer, you are a mega-failure. Any editor worth his or her salt would use this article to wrap fish in, nothing else.
Sadie / January 24, 2013 at 01:36 am
The reviewer could not have been more garrulous and pretentious if he tried. Is it necessary to write a review of a fish and chip shop with a thesaurus in hand? I couldn't even get through the whole review. Incredibly verbose.
Matthew Helmer / December 1, 2013 at 02:53 pm
i have too say this place is way too pricey for what you get , my friend and i paid close to 50$ for the fish chips and drink with out the tip ... when the fish got too our table we were shocked and we wont be back ... The Olde Yorke is the best fish and chips in toronto
mark / March 22, 2014 at 11:28 am
The review is absurd. The staff are wonderful, the food is consistently excellent, well priced, and ample. Its the first fish n chips my wife and I have enjoyed due to its light, non-oily batter.

Highly recommended!!
Omer Quenneville / September 24, 2014 at 03:33 pm
Certainly not the best but very reliable and consistent. The coating on the fish is light and not over bearing. The fries are cut on the premise and taste delicious. I order from here about once a month and I always see it as an treat.
Michy / December 17, 2014 at 05:21 pm
Took my mom here today and it was by far the worst fish and chips we've ever had. Fries were over cooked and tasteless, halibut was certainly not fresh and was so dry we had to order extra tartar sauce just to get it down. $40 for two one piece halibut meals with drinks and extra tartar sauce was excessive. My mom said they should change their name to Unreliable.
me again / March 1, 2015 at 07:33 pm
I went there and was so disappointed it was dry and tasted like it had been reheated
worst of all the staff were kind of miserable looking
won't be back

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