Update 5/16 – Halibuts lost their lease, and have moved to a food truck at 625 NE Killingsworth St., Portland 97211. They have chairs and tables out front.
When I was a kid in southern California, it seemed like every shopping center had a fish and chips place, mostly the same big chain. I still remember stopping by for lunch on special occasions and downing that flaky goodness, drowned in malt vinegar. I’m not sure what ever happened to all those restaurants – a victim of changing tastes, I suppose. Aside from an occasional average meal along the coast, it has been a long time since I’ve had fish and chips. Now ex-bartender David Mackay has opened a place on Killingsworth street that specializes in nothing but fish, chips, and chowder.
It is obvious that Mr. Mackay is passionate about fish. From the moment I walk through the door “You have to try the rock cod today, it’s wonderful” to the constant overseeing of his employees “don’t over cook it… three minutes!” it is clear he takes all of this very seriously. It seems he never stops looking at the timers.
The menu contains a fish of the day – lately rock cod, giant tiger prawns, Alaskan halibut, Alaskan Salmon, Southern catfish, Alaskan true cod, Halibut’s clam chowder, coleslaw, corn on the cob, and a child’s 2 pc chicken strips. Everything except the chowder comes with nice thick medium-crisp fries. The smaller portions are just fine for lunch.
They use zero trans-fat and zero cholesterol oil to make cook all their food, which gives the lightly coated fish a crunchy crust with a remarkably moist interior; the juice running down your chin as you bite into it. Tartar sauce is simple and mellow, complementing rather then competing with the fish. One can add malt vinegar if you need a little extra zing. The clam chowder is pretty darn good. Full of chunks of potato, large clams, cream, and served with a lump of butter. A nice bacon flavor rounds it out. This reminds me of some of the chowder I ate daily while bicycling the length of the California coast years ago… or at least on the Northern coast. They now have a beer and wine license, and a new room that opens more space for dining inside.