Piping hot Pan-fried oysters for cold Vancouver days: Tonys Fish and Oyster Cafe
1511 Anderson Street, Granville Island
To make up for the oyster that I dropped on the ground earlier in the week, we visited Tony’s Fish & Oyster Cafe over the weekend for fried oysters and fish and chips. Tony’s Fish & Oyster Cafe is found right at the entrance of Granville Island and is a popular destination for both locals and tourists. There was a short queue when we showed up at lunch time on Saturday, but the owner (whom I will assume is Tony) came out and chatted with us, making the wait for a table brief and pleasant.
We sat down at the bar and placed an order for the pan-fried oysters right away, and also ordered a lunch special advertised on the chalk board above the bar. The special seemed like a steal: cod fish and chips and a cup of clam chowder. It was a cold, rainy Vancouver day so hot clam chowder sounded perfect.
The chowder came first, served in a cute cup with crackers on the side. It really hit the spot, warm, thick and creamy with chunky, soft cubes of potato and big pieces of clam throughout. Also perfectly seasoned with salt and course ground black pepper, this chowder was full of flavour, comparable to the chowders that I’ve tried in Boston, Massachusetts.
Our much anticipated oysters were served next. Lined up on the plate like crispy, deep fried dominoes, my mouth started watering as soon as the dish was placed in front of me. These oysters were smaller than the ones at Feastro. I didn’t ask which kind they were, but due to their little round shapes and the slightly sweet finish in taste, I’m going to guess that they were Kumamoto oysters. These are considered the most popular oysters for ‘beginners,’ due to their mild flavour. I like to think of myself as an intermediate oyster eater (and a regular customer at Rodney’s Oyster House), but I still love Kumamotos: their plump centres, and silky smooth, delicate meat in very petite compact bites.
The oysters were fried to the perfect crispiness at Tony’s, albeit a little bit oily. They place a napkin under the oysters on the plate. It’s a little jolting to see the oil-soaked napkin at the end of the meal though. It might be better if these oysters are blotted before being served.
The other sides that come with the pan-fried oyster lunch are a rice pilaf and coleslaw. I never eat the coleslaw here. It tastes like glue. This could be due to two reasons, generally, I don’t like coleslaw unless it’s super fresh, crispy and crunchy like how Re-up and Kaboom Box serve it in their sandwiches, and also, I think the coleslaw at Tony’s might be store-bought. You know, the kind that comes in big plastic tubs from Costco?
The rice pilaf is cooked wonderfully, the rice is al dente but the taste is a little bland. The rice could be upstaged by the super seasoned oysters though.
The cod fish and chips lunch special was delicious, comparable to my London fish and chips pub food experience at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese sans fish skin. The batter on this cod was more delicate than English fish and chips, but still fried up to a tasty, crispy, salty shell that encased the cod meat in moisture. The cod was flaky and tasty. The subtle but fresh cod flavours were enhanced by the saltiness of the fries and the tartar sauce.
As always, I had a great time at Tony’s, and the food really warmed me up to brave the cold weather on the short walk to the Public Market to visit my other two favourite Granville Island stops: Stuart’s Bakery and Lee’s Donuts.