Reliable Fish and Chips
Reliable Fish and Chips is closing. Not so reliable any more, eh? Haha, I sob into my fish and chips, salt and vinegar and tears and unfunny jokes making the whole situation even sadder.
We used to go here all the time when we lived at Carlaw, when the shop was there. Reliable was just a few minutes south, on Queen, across from the Shoppers Drug Mart. Jon would ask if he could order some more tartar sauce packets because his wife is the plague of his life, constantly badgering him to ask for special accommodations, and the owner, at the counter, would grumble and roll his eyes say you don’t need to pay because you’re a regular but normally we don’t give these out for free, and Jon would say I’m really sorry and duck out of there. This is what we need in our lives, fish and chip mongers from whom you beg free tartar sauce. Liz, I can’t show my face in there anymore, he doesn’t want to give me anymore tartar sauce.
When Jon went for one last hurrah, the woman at the counter still remembered Jon’s name. Here we are for one last hurrah, although it’s not quite the same when you have to drive there. Nothing is ever the same, the existentialist laments. Although, appropriately, when we went, Naomi was still in her preschool, which was still open during the in-person school closure, and so it was just us and Caleb, the original gang of Chan’s eating fish and chips.
Why am I writing about this, who knows, who cares. By the time anyone reads this blog post this fish and chips place will have been long gone, replaced likely by a cannabis shop.
I am but a baby myself, a spring flower only having recently bloomed, how is it possible that not only do I have babies, but that these markers of time, these places I used to go to in neighbourhoods I used to live in, are now passing me by. How could I possibly be turning into those crusty old farts who talk about the good old days when we used to go to Reliable Fish and Chips for lunch.
In any case, this old fish and chips place has closed. Toronto continues to change with the seasons, and we all try our best to keep up.
Eric Hebert said:
Good morning Liz,
I believe we’ve all had similar experiences. I try to console myself be thinking that everything in the world and beyond has a lifespan.
Sue & I experienced the loss of a terrific fish & chip place here in Edmonton. Grandin Fish & Chips was an “elevated” place. The decor was modern and the menu first rate.
Problems arose over the name, Grandin. Plenty of neighbourhoods, streets and buildings were named after Catholic Archbishop Vital Grandin. But once the revelations of the residential school system was made public, the name Grandin was considered improper to commemorate. He was instrumental in setting up residential schools in Canada.
The shop changed its name to Prairie Fish & Chips. All this and COVID managed to put them out of business. It closed on December 31, 2021.
Sue and I went there for one last meal, I spoke to the owner about how we would miss the food. She began to cry and we never saw her again that day. I felt terrible for making her sadder than she already was.
We loved the place and do miss it. Somehow, businesses become a part of us, part of how we experience our homes. Especially restaurants. What could be more intimate than sharing a meal? Even if you’re presented with a bill.
When you cook for someone there is a little bit of love in it. A love of the food, of sharing, of companionship.
Your experiences there will always be a part of you and Jon.
As Good Old Dr. Seuss said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
Thanks for sharing this part of your life with us.
PS – Since 1930? That is a good run. Better than most. Can you imagine how many people had a chance to eat the food? How the city has changed since they first hung the open sign.
I feel your pain! I felt the same when Penrose Fish and Chips on Mount Pleasant closed after 50 plus years.