Fairfield Fish & Chips Place, 1275 Fairfield Road, Victoria
One would think it hard to distinguish good from bad fish and chips. Assuming the basic care and attention to ingredients, how could you go wrong? Dip fish in batter, then drop in deep-fryer until golden brown. Chips, same. Serve in rolled up newspaper. Done. Well, if life only were this cut and dry.
How to Screw up Fish and Chips 101, by Professor YRS
Now listen closely students, fish & chips may seem like a no-brainier, but there are ways to screw it up and make it taste lousy. First of all, use old, previously frozen fish, rather than local catch of the day. Second, take the batter recipe purely for granted (batter, schmatter... just flour and water and a pinch of salt, right? right?). Third and most vital way to screw up fish & chips: NEVER CHANGE THE DEEP FRYER OIL, or change it no more than once per month! There you have it. Congratulations, you've screwed up an order of fish & chips!
I realize this all sounds a bit too obvious, but you would be surprised by how many food vendors try and pass off fish and chips as actual fish & chips. Or more generally, you would be horrified to learn how many of Victoria's restaurants do not clean their deep-fryers or change the oil regularly. Apparently, there's one place in Chinatown that hasn't changed their oil since Mao's Great Leap Forward!
If you want a place in Victoria that avoids all these pitfalls, please visit Fairfield Fish & Chips Place, which seems to have been there forever. I lovely little spot near the corner of Fairfield and Moss streets. If you are a would-be tourist to Victoria reading this, you might want to fit this snack into your visit to historic Ross Bay Cemetery. From the Cemetery, head back toward town on Fairfield until you hit Moss Street, stick your nose out and follow the aromatic scents of fried halibut and chips.
We sampled the halibut and rockfish, and it was all good. The chips had an especially crisp, fresh texture, leading me to suspect the oil here is changed regularly. The batter was that perfect combination of crispy and fall-apart-in-your-fingers flaky. The tarter sauce was none too shabby either.
Not that I put much stock in surveys or rankings, but Fairfield Fish & Chips is a perennial favourite among locals, and (according to Eat Magazine) is a favourite among local top chefs in the city who seek out high quality cheap eats on their days off.