Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tony's Fish and Oyster Cafe - Warm and inviting

Despite its location in one of the trendiest areas in Vancouver, Tony’s Fish and Oyster Café has all the warmth, charm and friendliness of a corner mom-and-pop shop. Nestled by the entrance to Granville Island, this tiny little restaurant may not look like much to a passer-by, but the constantly crowded tables and common dinner lineups hint at the great food and wonderful service locals have enjoyed for years.

About the restaurant: Tony’s Fish and Oyster Café is nothing to write home about in terms of its décor, featuring little more than simple tables and chairs with checkerboard tablecloths. At first glance, it may seem like another cheap hole-in-the-wall diner, albeit a very clean and pleasant one. There are only a few tables available, and at lunch and dinner, those tables are very often full. Make no mistake; this is a very popular restaurant, and many people from the area make a point to enjoy a meal there regularly.

Part of the popularity is due to its excellent food, but I suspect another part of it is the incredibly cheerful and friendly owners and the great service they provide. The waitresses in particular are lovely, clucking over guests and joking merrily with everyone. It produces a welcoming, homey atmosphere that keeps people coming back again and again.

To reiterate, this is a very popular and therefore very busy café; if you intend to sit and dine, don’t be surprised if you have to wait a short while. For those in a rush, take-out may be a good compromise.

The food: In my humble opinion, this place serves some of the best fish and chips around, but my all-time favorite dish has to be their clam chowder. I’ve never tasted anything quite like it. It’s not overly thick or creamy like tinned chowder; it’s smooth and mellow with a subtle kick to it. It really warms you up and leaves a delightful, almost sweet taste in the mouth. I highly recommend it to anyone, and never leave the café without having a cup. Not to say I don’t enjoy the other dishes, of course; I’m a particular fan of the fish burger, which features a fresh slab of cod, delicious tartar sauce, and fries. Unlike many fish and chip stores, the deep fried items don’t taste overly heavy or greasy, most likely because they use zero trans-fat oil. As such, their fries and fish are light and crispy.

My favourites:  Granville Island White Clam Chowder, Fish Burger, 2 pieces Cod, Seafood Platter, Lunch Special (1 piece cod, clam chowder, fries for $10)

Cost:  With the exception of the clam chowder ($3 for a cup, about $6 for a bowl), most of the dishes range from $8 (e.g. one piece of cod + chips) to $19 (e.g. halibut filet). The entrees are more expensive compared to the burgers and fish’n’chips; bargain hunters may wish to steer towards the latter. Beer and wine work out to about $4-6 a glass.

Take-out?:  Yes.

Delivery?:  No.

Licensed?:  Yes. Draft beer and wine is on offer.

Location(s):  Near the entrance to Granville Island, next to Sammy J Peppers. Link to Google Maps.

Website and menu: Here.

Summary:  One of my favorite local restaurants, a gem among many excellent fish and chip shops. Tony’s Fish and Oyster Café will keep you warm both with its great food and its friendly service. 


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