Montreal, being spiritually and geographically far from coastal England, has a fish ‘n’ chips culture that is underwhelming, to say the least. The newest addition to the strip of restaurants that service the Ubisoft crowd, Comptoir 21 offers surprisingly traditional fare, though they have let the mushy peas and soggy chips fall to the wayside.
The Comptoir stays true to its name, with a small bank of stools organized around a curved wooden counter. The space is sunny and spare, with an open concept kitchen visible from the dining area. Service is quick and friendly: the wait staff are pleased to help you make tough decisions (curry or paprika dipping sauce?), and the food is made-to-order.
As for the fish (haddock exclusively), it’s thickly battered and fried to a crisp, and the batter keeps the filet within moist. Portions are generous and reasonably priced. The fries are thicker than your average French fry, but not flabby and pale like their British compatriots. The fried calamari alone, soft and chewy, makes the trip worthwhile. Our waitress offered us a selection of dipping sauces, noting the indecision on our faces and the fact that it was our first visit. Of these, the reigning champion is the herb sauce, which by turns features cilantro and parsley.
While the food is exceedingly delicious, do not be fooled into thinking this is healthy fish and chips – after a solid lunch of fried food, I felt morally obligated to have salad for dinner.
Comptoir 21 | 21, St-Viateur W.