Mack’s Grandma always recommends two places when we ask for suggestions of where to buy seafood: Boyd’s (103, 979 Fir Street, Sherwood Park) and Billingsgate Seafood Market and Lighthouse Café (7331 104 Street). We decided to let the experts prepare the fish and headed to the latter on Wednesday.
On a gloomy, cloud-ridden evening that Mack thought fittingly cast an east coast feel, we entered the market. It may have been the foreboding weather, but we seem to have missed the dinner rush, as the market was devoid of shoppers. We did a quick round through the cases and freezers, but our empty stomachs soon drove us to the end of the hallway and into the Lighthouse Café.
Our reservation wasn’t necessary, and we were seated right away in the circular lighthouse-shaped dining area. It was very dimly lit, relying heavily on the natural light from the gradually darkening sky. From the outside, I thought the interior would be quite kitschy, but instead, the décor was charming and tasteful. A small lighthouse-shaped candle holder was on the table, and pictures and figures of various sea creatures were plentiful yet not dominating in any way.
I appreciated the short introduction of the café on the inside of the menu, detailing the history of market having to evolve to meet customer requests for prepared seafood. As expected, the menu contained a few dishes entirely devoid of seafood (pasta, risotto, chicken, steak), and a variety of fish, scallop, shrimp and lobster entrees that drew from the market’s fresh inventory.
Both of us knew our order even before the menu was opened – the Lighthouse Fish and Chips, made with pacific halibut filets prepared with a light batter, served with coleslaw, tartar sauce and fries (one piece for $10.95). Mack also wanted to give their Lighthouse Calamari a go ($8.95).
Service was consistent through our meal, and our waitress was always just around the corner ready to fill up our water glasses. The calamari arrived after a short wait, topped with red onions and served with a chipotle aioli and a marinara sauce. I preferred these buttermilk-coated rings to the heavier batter found at the likes of Earls and Mr. Mike’s, but Mack disagreed.
We were still snacking on the calamari when our mains arrived. The bloated halibut, unfortunately resembling a corndog, looked like it had just been picked up from a midway vendor. I was hoping the fish hidden inside the crispy, glistening crust would taste fresher than the frying oil used, and though it was fork-flaky, it was also disappointingly dry.
We received two Ovation mint chocolates with our bill, which was a nice touch, but still didn’t make up for our lacklustre entree. Mack acknowledged that we probably ordered a dish not demonstrative of their seafood catalogue, so we may be back in the future for fish not fried.
Billingsgate Seafood Market
Lighthouse Fish and Chips