Review: FSH & CHP Hamilton

47 King William Street
Parking: Street
Takes Reservations: No

Having always lived in urban parts of Ontario, I never spent much time thinking about fish and chips. I have always loved trying new restaurants and different cuisines, but being so far from water means the seafood is just not as good as it is on our East and West coasts. I always envisioned fish and chips as being more appropriate in Nova Scotia or Newfoundland than Toronto. That is until FSH & CHP came to town. I have been to their restaurant about a half dozen times now so this review is long overdue.

The restaurant is on a fairly busy road with other gems like The French, The Mule and FSH & CHP’s sister restaurant, HAMBRGR. You can usually find street parking in front of the restaurant or not far down the road. The restaurant is small with window and wall bar seating and tables which they will reorganize depending on the size of the groups. There is usually a wait in the evenings, but the line tends to move quickly. One downside of the small space is there isn’t anywhere to wait which can be hard in the winter months.

The atmosphere is quaint, pretty and feels spacious even though it is a fairly small dining room. They have really embraced the nautical theme, but it doesn’t come across as cheesy or overdone. It is a great design and has a cozy and familiar, but still modern feel to it. The clientele is so diverse as well. It seems to be a hit with everyone from the university crowd to young professionals, middle aged couples and even parents with young kids. Personally, I would be wary of going with very young children because the space issue makes it hard to navigate a carseat, stroller and the other million things that you have to carry when you travel with kids. They also don’t have much space to wriggle around and explore if they get bored or frustrated.

Photo credit: FSH & CHP Google Images

They revamped their menu shortly after my first visit there which had been during their soft opening. We had already tried their salmon burger, beer battered cod, lobster mac & cheese and chowders. The beer battered cod is our favourite, but I have never had a bad or even just average meal here. This time we decided to try the Fry box for two. We did not think this decision through very well. It was simultaneously great, but also a very bad, no good, terrible idea. It was great because the food is fresh, well made and delicious. It was terrible because once our order arrived, we realized we had just ordered an entire wooden crate of fried food.

Disclaimer: I have nothing against fried food, how could I when so many of the best things in life are fried. However, I never grew up eating fast food or having fried food served to me at home so my tolerance is low for the quantity I can eat of it. Thank you immigrant parents for offering us mushy black bananas and dented oranges from your bag when we said we were hungry near a McDonald’s. The Fry Box is not for the faint of heart. We did not come close to finishing (although we tried!) and I left fairly certain that my body was now at least 40% oil.

Before we faced the fry box, we ordered the kale chop salad to share. This was also revamped and they have done a great job with it. When I first tried it months ago, it was a bit bland and uninteresting. This salad was bomb though. Perfectly massaged kale with dates, pecorino, nuts, fried chickpeas and apples. Soooo good. I liked that they didn’t overwhelm it with dressing either, all the individual flavours from the ingredients came through and complemented each other.

The husband tried the Bavarian Wheat beer and loved it. We have tried their cocktails before, but honestly we can be a bit picky about how our cocktails are made and they weren’t that great last time. Anyway, fish and chips are begging to be served with beer.

After the salad we got our fry box. The picture does not do justice. They usually serve it with corn, but were out that night so we got more delicious fried goodness. There was the fried beer battered haddock, fried shrimp in batter, hush puppies and chips (fries for us simple non British folk) served with coleslaw, tartar sauce and curry mayo.

We usually get the beer battered cod and this was our first time trying the haddock. Although the batter was just as perfectly spiced, airy but still crispy as it always is, I was not a fan of the haddock. It was chewy and fell a bit flat for me. That did not stop me from peeling all the batter off and eating it….then eating my husband’s batter off his piece as well. The shrimp was delicious as were the fries. Their fries are a perfect example of how fries should be done. Thick cut, crispy, hot and salty outside, but a rich and soft potato inside. My only criticism would be that I find the fries a tad bit on the salty side, but the husband disagrees and finds them perfect. The only disappointing item for both of us were the hushpuppies. I just find them bland, even with the sauce options. Neither of us particularly liked them and we found them boring. Still, there was so much food that it didn’t matter if you weren’t a fan of one part because there were so many other things. I would have liked to have tried their corn, but it will have to be next time.

Overall, FSH&CHP is a great and unique addition to the restaurant scene. It provides an upscale version of a classic dish. Service was friendly, helpful and attentive. If you haven’t been there, definitely go give it a try.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Service 5/5

Ambience/Decor: 4/5