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The One That Got Away

Posted by Meaghan Binstock / Reviewed on November 15, 2010 / review policy

The One That Got AwayThe One That Got Away World Famous Fish House at King and Portland is the newest addition to the King West block of tiny fast-food-but-fancier restos including the likes of Craft Burger and Reggie's Old Fashioned Sandwiches. Sure, a greasy grilled-cheese or a gourmet burger make for a good meal when you're craving comfort food, but for those looking for something a little lighter during their lunch break without taking the time to go to a full service restaurant, maybe fish is the answer.

Enter The One That Got Away, an order-at-the-counter style restaurant with possibly the longest name on the strip, but a menu that is short and simple. The One still offers its share of grease, with most fish on the menu available as fish and chips, breaded and deep-fried, but much of the fish can also be grilled, which is how it's prepared in the sandwiches and salads.

The One That Got AwayAs a side note, I've always wondered how certain places come about adding world famous to their title. Can any restaurant dub themselves world famous? Are there certain parameters required to attain this title? Are they being egotistical? Facetious? Or just trying to trick us into believing their goods are really so good that they should or might be famous? Maybe someone knows the answer. Maybe it doesn't matter. But I digress. Back to the fish.

The One That Got Away manages to be a charming little space for its sparseness. Relatively unadorned, and vaguely nautical in theme, the long, narrow room consists of a counter at the back, one banquette along the wall lined with a row of small tables, and a bar with a few stools against the window.

When my friend and I arrive at lunch hour, most of the tables are full, and there is a line-up at the counter. It appears many customers are ordering food to go, and we manage to snag the window seat where we can enjoy some King West people watching while we eat.

The One That Got AwayWhen we approach the counter, the helpful owner inquires as to whether we've been here before, and when we say we haven't he happily explains the way the menu works. Listed on a large chalkboard on the wall, there are a number of different fish available, and the customer can select a type of fish and decide whether they'd like it battered and fried as fish and chips, or grilled in a sandwich, wrap or salad, and prices vary accordingly. A note on the bottom of the chalkboard explains to allow 5-10 minutes for orders to be ready as everything's prepared fresh, and also that they only use sustainable fish.

We decide to go for the classic Haddock for the fish and chips, and upon the owner's recommendation we select the Arctic Char for the salad and the Barramundi for the sandwich. We grab a couple bottles of water (Pop Shoppe sodas are also available) and the meal comes to around $33, not bad for what is realistically a meal for three. Or two total gluttons.

The menu also offers classic sides like coleslaw and a couple kinds of chowder, though we have far too much food as it is and have to pass on this option. A receipt prints up with a number on it, and we wait at our bar seats until someone in the kitchen yells out our number. We collect our meals, served on silver trays lined with white and red checked paper, and take them back to our seats.

I unwrap my plastic cutlery, take the lid off the the little plastic container of accompanying tartar sauce, and begin by sampling the Haddock fish and chips ($7.99 - top photo). The heaping portion of fries are thick-cut and skin-on, classic fish and chips style, and good enough that it's hard to drum up an appetite for the salads siding the other fish dishes. The fish itself is moist and tender, cooked properly for the most part, though as we get to the middle, some parts are a little on the raw side. The batter is light and doesn't overpower the fish, but it could definitely have been a little crispier.

The One That Got AwayThe Arctic Char salad ($9.29) is a piece of the grilled fish sided with a mound of mixed greens and slices of fresh tomato and cucumber, topped with sunflower seeds and accompanied by some straight up oil and vinegar. The dish also comes with a small container of tangy mango salsa with red onion and cilantro, which turns out to be a lovely companion to the fish. The char is perfectly cooked, not in the least bit dry and full of flavour. This meal is probably the healthiest of the three, and like most I can be a sucker for the comfort food, but this turns out to be my favourite of them all.

The One That Got AwayOur final selection is the Barramundi, which we ordered as a sandwich ($9.99). The large, grilled filet comes on a warmed whole grain bun and is topped with the same greens, tomatoes and cucumbers that make up the salad, which is also a side for this sandwich. The white fish is thick and juicy, also well prepared and very moist. The toppings on the sandwich may not exactly be exciting, but they're crisp and fresh and allow the flavour of the Barramundi to come through.

While we're finishing up our meal, and as the lunch rush quickly dies down, the owner wanders over to ask us how everything was, and we're left feeling like there is a welcoming vibe in this place that takes it up a notch from your typical cafeteria-style lunch spot.

For the grab-and-go restaurant that it is, The One offers quality seafood in generous portions for pretty reasonable prices. By the time we finish eating and my friend has to head back to her office, the place is all but empty, aside from a few friends of the owner who pop in to offer enthusiastic congratulations for the restaurant opening.

The place is open until late (10 or 11pm depending on the day - sundays 7pm), though for some reason plastic cutlery and wet-naps are even less appealing after lunchtime if you ask me. Disposable cutlery aside, my expectations were exceeded both in terms of the food itself and the general atmosphere. Takeout or eat-in, world famous or not, The One That Got Away is a welcome addition to the neighbourhood's quick dining options.

The One That Got AwayPhotos by Taralyn Marshall



Kate Schatzky / November 15, 2010 at 11:26 pm
I agree with all of the above. Love the arctic char salad.
mike deman / November 16, 2010 at 12:38 pm
really cool review and i agree with many of there points . i live in the king west area and i am happy to have this new option. I love the fish basket and chips
john / November 16, 2010 at 02:14 pm
is there steak and kidney pie or chicken pot pie on the menu? if not, it's not a real fish and chip shop!
Melvin / November 16, 2010 at 02:40 pm
John, are you serious?
kate / November 16, 2010 at 02:44 pm
This is about fish and yummy food, not about being British.
Sean / November 16, 2010 at 03:01 pm
Great review. Went there for lunch today. Had the haddock and chips. Fish was cooked to perfection and the chips were some of the best I've had. Glad to find a new lunch spot in the area that serves something different.
Canterbury Tail / November 16, 2010 at 06:01 pm
I'll have to pop in some day. As an ex Brit I'm often dismayed by what native Torontonians think of as excellent fish and chips (Harbord I'm looking at you.) I've found some acceptible ones, but nothing as good as the worse ones in the UK. So here's hoping.
jeb / November 16, 2010 at 07:07 pm
I've been here a couple times and I haven't been disappointed by the quality of their foods. Although, it may not be the best, it does a pretty good job of filling my belly.
One thing about it was not so great however. The 2nd time I had gone there I didn't have such a great experience. The person taking my order was quite rude and made me feel like he was doing me a favour by taking my money. I mean, I expect service like that from snobby queen west restaurants, but not at a place like this. The guy wouldn't even crack a smile even after I tried to cheer him up by saying how great it was to have a place like this in our neighbourhood.
I will give this place one more shot before I can recommend it to my friends.
Larry / November 16, 2010 at 10:37 pm
Is there such a thing as a shellfish-free fish & chip shop anywhere in Toronto? A kosher chippy?
Andrew / November 16, 2010 at 10:45 pm
Canterbury Tail,

Just curious have you tried the fish n chips @ the Queen and Beaver Pub? There the best I've had in T.O.
Canterbury Tail replying to a comment from Andrew / November 17, 2010 at 07:49 am
No I haven't, but it's on my list. Caz's on Davenport is pretty good though.
AV replying to a comment from Canterbury Tail / November 17, 2010 at 10:36 am
Caz's is just ok and overpriced IMHO
Moi / November 17, 2010 at 11:21 am
Mark / November 17, 2010 at 09:41 pm
Had the halibut and chips today at lunch, and it was fantastic! Second-best fish and chips I've had in the city, and I've tried many (my favourite being High Street Fish and Chips up in North York).
SVEN / November 17, 2010 at 11:47 pm
Penrose - mt plez and eg - is still the best. fried "in the proper medium"...
Moeed Mohammad / November 18, 2010 at 01:24 pm
They have done everything right — and it shows.

Great place.
Anon / November 19, 2010 at 01:32 pm
Just had the Arctic Char salad. So delicious. Very sweet and quaint little shop, with some charming touches. The owner (?) seemed very pleased and happy to chat about how the business is going. I hope that they keep up the great presentation, food and service!
Katata / November 22, 2010 at 12:28 am
Just ate there tonight. The grilled fish wraps are excellent and the chips are perfect. Some interesting sides available, too. Great place all-around. Welcome addition to the neighbourhood!
sweethotcrap / December 10, 2010 at 02:34 pm
HELLS YES. Great addition.
Big sexy / December 12, 2010 at 02:35 am
This place rules, I work on king street and am megga stoked about a fish option.
webpossum / January 10, 2011 at 12:12 am
how does it compare to The Fish Store up on College? Those are some of my hands down fave sandwiches in the city.
crackerjack / January 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm
Ya, the guy behind the counter...cheer up.

you are in the customer service industry bud.
Salanth replying to a comment from Canterbury Tail / January 28, 2011 at 09:33 am
Which acceptable ones have you found?
Salanth replying to a comment from Canterbury Tail / January 28, 2011 at 09:33 am
Which acceptable ones have you found?
andreasa / February 8, 2011 at 07:30 pm
had a late lunch there today for the 4th time in two weeks...amazing halibut, great batter....the fries were delicious and pop shoppe...i think im addicted.
Gel Mibson / February 11, 2011 at 01:58 am
Been to One that got away twice. I think I got the cheery guy and the D&@k head respectively. Had the Char in fish and chip format, was good. Like that they have healthy options also. Note to canterbury tail, Caz's is now closed. Do not know the story on this one.
stanthemanchan / April 18, 2011 at 09:03 pm
The fries here are amazing. Some of the best in the area, better even than the poutine places. Of course, nothing can touch the duck fat fries at Jacobs & Co but that place is in a completely different league. The fish & chips here are decent, but IMO the best value on the menu is the manhattan chowder and salad.
Sarah / May 13, 2011 at 12:36 pm
Just as a side note, proper British Chips are made from peeled potatoes, not cut with the skins still on...
frankie / December 26, 2011 at 01:47 pm
had the halibut and fries here the other night, amazing fries and fish, tried the fish tacos as a side dish, was amazing also, great job guys
Phil replying to a comment from Canterbury Tail / January 23, 2012 at 02:22 pm
Quite agree Canterbury. Harbord is overpriced and distinctly mediocre. Some local pubs have better fish & chips -- I had really good version in Spirits Bar on Church Street recently.
Unimpressed / August 11, 2012 at 03:14 am
My boyfriend and I ate there tonight and as we were ordering the woman behind the counter asked us if we wanted to eat in or take out. I said we'll eat in (the restaurant was full except for one table so why not) she promptly replied with a sarcastic, "Really?". I was not impressed. I understand it was 1/2 hour to close but there were people in line behind me and the restaurant already had people eating in. I told her we could go elsewhere or have it to go after asking what was wrong with eating in but she quickly said that we could stay and not to rush.

Point is you work at a busy fish and chips shop on a friday night on King West during the summer.... smile once in a goddamn while and be pleasant with your guests.
Dauhm Daibatie / November 20, 2012 at 09:11 pm
Best fish sandwiches anywhere and amazing fish and chips! Also, exceptionally friendly and hip staff. If you haven't tried this place, try it!
Inde replying to a comment from Sarah / January 25, 2013 at 11:56 am
I quite agree
Ritchie replying to a comment from john / February 28, 2013 at 01:20 am
fish and chip means fish and chip johnny, don't be daft boy!
simon / March 13, 2013 at 03:46 pm
Be careful when ordering the halibut fish and chips.. they run out often i think because ive seen them more than once use cod instead without telling the customer (halibut is 5 bucks more than cod.) it rubbed me wrong.
maggieJ / September 1, 2013 at 11:21 pm
BASA??!!!!!!! i think the owners should google "basa" and "mekong river" and "toxic". Basa is a type of catfish farmed in China and VietNam along the very polluted Mekong, fed hormones from China so they grow 4x larger in 1/4 the time. Any wonder it's the cheapest fish in the supermarket?
shoulda just went to olde yorke / April 7, 2014 at 09:44 am
Very disappointed! Was very excited to finally try this place out! I ordered the fish basket and my gf got the halibut and chips. The Calamari were very skinny, wouldnt consider them rings. I had 3 small tail end pieces of haddock, they were thin and could barely taste the fish. the fried shrimp and scallops were a good size but the batter was over cooked. My gf kept saying at least the fries were good. I tried hers and she did have good fries. mine were over cooked and mostly the almost burnt ends. i did enjoy the coleslaw though. Sadly i wont come back here, i would rather travel north to eat at olde yorke
moopy / April 18, 2014 at 11:18 am
why don't they show the damn address all I see is addition on King West
moopy / April 18, 2014 at 11:19 am
ok I saw it on the right side
I'm glad I let it go! / June 20, 2014 at 07:28 pm
Extremely disappointing. The pictures above misrepresent the actuality; overcooked chips (dark brown), over salted, and very greasy. The calamari is not fresh and is also overcooked. It is then covered in a over spiced batter. The cod was also chewing and overcooked. The whole experience was rather unpleasant. I will not return.

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