The Divas are all about fabulous, lengthy, boozy dinners. But sometimes you just want to get a quick bite to eat; of course, it still has to meet our ever so high Diva standards. When we think of quick eats we usually mean fun lunch spots, and in Montreal that usually translates to burgers, pizzas and sandwiches. Comptoir 21 offers fish & chips, a much more fun bite to eat that in Montreal isn’t the usual choice amongst the locals. With three locations on St-Viateur, St-Catherine East and Wellington, Comptoir 21 has established a nice name for themselves as THE fish & chips restaurant in the city. After a food event a few blocks away, the Divas entered Comptoir 21 on St-Viateur in the Mile End. Even though we had already eaten, we needed a little snack to tie us over…what? Girls gotta eat 😉
With their long lunch counter and diner-style atmosphere, patrons can choose to take their fishy delights to go or sit amongst friends along the counter. Comptoir 21’s 100% malt vinegar, amongst other condiments decorated the counter. They serve wine and beer so that you never lose your buzz! The Greek chef frying the fish while being mocked by his Greek male companions sitting at the counter simply added to the laid back feel. And really, who knows fish better than the Greeks? The sea faring décor along with the candy dispenser filled with sea shells added to the rusticity of the place. This was exactly what the Divas had wanted, a fun diner-style spot for a quick bite to eat. Their website advertises that they use 100% vegetable oil, and we asked the waitress what their fish & chips are made of and we were told haddock, different from the usual cod that is used.
Even though we just wanted a snack, we decided to order more food than necessary and take the rest to work the next day. Their clam chowder is popular so we started with a bowl of that. One cold litre of this chowder can also be purchased for home. If you can’t make it to New England, just go to Comptoir 21 and try a bowl of their serious clam chowder. It wasn’t too heavy, nor as runny and overly creamy as we unfortunately expect from Montreal restaurants. Instead the potatoes were cut chunky, with plenty of clams and just the right amount of cream. Served with the traditional oyster crackers, it was perfection when we added a bit of pepper and dove into the thick soup. Comptoir 21 certainly earned their reputation as having the best clam chowder in the city, we only wish it came in a sour dough bread bowl as it often does in New England 😉
We opted for the smaller portion of fish & chips, we weren’t even that hungry after the thick and filling clam chowder, but since we were there we had to indulge. The fish & chips were divine, flaky white fish was covered in the perfect amount of batter and deep fried to perfection. This is what fish & chips are supposed to taste like! They came with the choice of one sauce; options included: traditional tartar sauce, jalapeno, paprika, curry, herbs and a Thaï sauce. We opted for 2 sauces, their famous tartar sauce, because how else does one enjoy fish & chips? And we also ordered their paprika sauce for 1.00$ extra. The paprika dipping sauce was our favourite; it had that extra zing that went so well with the fish. You had the choice between adding French fries, salad or poutine to your fish, we opted for the French fries which were thickly cut and once again perfect with the dipping sauces. The coleslaw was vinegary and lovely, but sadly there was too little of it, and the lemon for the fish was a necessary addition.
Since we couldn’t simply stop there we also ordered the cod croquettes. This differs from their fish & chips because the cod croquettes are made into little balls with shredded potatoes, in a type of crab cake style. Heavier than the fish & chips, these croquettes were also very tasty and would have been amazing to replace a burger patty. This time we chose the herb sauce which was pesto like, but to be honest, the mayo based tartar and paprika sauces were better paired with these deep fried fishy delights. The cod croquettes were different enough from the fish & chips to make it worth your while to try both. It came with a fresh green salad with a good thick balsamic dressing but we were too full to even pretend to eat it.
Other interesting menu items at Comptoir 21 include shrimp tempura and their fish burger. Of course if you want to avoid fish all together you can enjoy their steak sandwich or regular burgers. But at that point you should eat somewhere else because Comptoir 21 is all about their fish, deep fried and marvelous. The night wore on, we planned our lunch at work for the next day and how we would reheat our fried fish in our panini press – ethnics are always planning their next meal. We were amused by a group of drunken friends that came in stumbling, talking louder than necessary, and hungry for that deep fried food that is always necessary after a night of drinking. We have all been there, and we smiled and thought of our own wild nights that ended with a fried meal. Comptoir 21 is the perfect lunch spot in the Mile End, but it is also open late enough so that you can also enjoy their fish & chips for dinner.
Our Rating: Splendid
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