Fancy’s fish and chip restaurant in Barrie

No, that’s not a joke; the family’s last name is Fancy. Harry and Jane Fancy were from the British Isles, and came to the Toronto area in a time when fish and chip stands were on every street corner like the pizza, subs, and pita places we have now.

Surely, in over 50 years of serving seafood fares, they have to have something that works. I very much enjoyed my English pub style battered fish at Fancy’s. The atmosphere is a little dated, the carpets have seen better days, and the wooden tables could be refinished, but the seafarer theme is entirely appropriate for the restaurant and quite charming. Actually, the restaurant at this Bell Farm Road and St. Vincent location has been open since the early 1980s. Much of its interior is its original design, which its owners don’t want to mess with too much at this point.

The restaurant is huge, and is decorated with fish, lobster traps and boat steering wheels. According to Amanda, our server, “there is a story behind every fish on the wall.” I personally liked the giant swordfish on the wall. We didn’t come in with enough people but there actually is a table for 12 shaped like an enormous fish. At one time, all of these clever decorative flairs were brand new, had no dings and dents, and today they go a little unnoticed and under-appreciated.

What people who frequent Fancy’s come in for is the price, the quality, and the authentic family atmosphere. They had 4 battered fish dishes ranging between $10.50 for the tilapia and $14.50 for the halibut. There were also a number of awesome seafood appetizers like crab cakes, seafood stuffed potato skins and escargot all for under $7.00. The restaurant also serves up some nice pan fried Halibut, salmon, or rainbow trout steaks.

I’m a bit nuts for battered fish. I come from an English family, and in England, the battered fish is a bit like the holy grail of meals. I’d say, according to my standards, nobody would go home unhappy having the fish meals we had at Fancy’s. I can’t say the same for many of the big-box-chain restaurants that have one or two fish dinners on the menu. It’s so easy to burn the batter, and under-cook the meat, that I’ve always had my best fish dinner experiences at the local restaurants like Fancy’s.

It’s really ironic that this place isn’t very Fancy, but what it is, is authentic. You can have a good family experience, or stay after dinner for beers with the buddies.
The restaurant has a full take-out menu, so you can call-in and pick up your order and bring it home, or to the office. The restaurant also offers a very well designed webpage that includes the entire menu and I’m guessing most vegetarians would be cool with the menu too. Gone are the times where fish and chips are on every street corner, but this restaurant is a little homage to that feeling, and that’s what keeps bringing me back.

-Written by: Michael Whone

Follow Michael Whone on Twitter @whoneranger and visit his website: www.rivervanstyle.com

View Fancy’s profile here

Sponsored By:

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Rawlicious in Barrie

Their mission is to help you “feel good about what you eat.” This is a great spot for vegetarians and vegans, or simply, health conscious individuals who want to try something different.

It’s hard to know what to expect when you step into Rawlicious, although one thing is certain: you’re getting raw food, and not just any raw food – it’s organic and vegan. I wandered into Rawlicious on a Monday afternoon. Its size makes it easy to miss, but this smaller restaurant is clean, modern, and bright.

The atmosphere is warm and inviting with coffeehouse music playing in the background; however, it’s unclear whether you should seat yourself or walk up to the counter, and no one’s really there to make it clear. Despite its small appearance, Rawlicious is a restaurant, so learn from my experience and have a seat. When one of the servers does appear from the back room, they’re quite friendly and knowledgeable; however, be prepared to wait. Although everything is raw, it seems the process of preparation takes several minutes, even for a simple item.

If you’re visiting for a light lunch, Rawlicious has a variety of organic salads. You can choose: House, Caesar, Olive-Currant-Nut and Seed, Taco, or Strawberry Pecan Salad (which is only available in the summer). If you’re still hungry, Rawlicious has a variety of wraps, which are much different than typical ones, due to their food being gluten-free. For instance, their Caesar and taco wraps are wrapped in collard leaves. Also on the menu is the “Rawitch,” which is onion bread with guacamole, tomatoes, cucumbers, and alfalfa sprouts, dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. Rawlicious pizza is the only warm entrée on the menu; it is made on a sprouted buckwheat and flax seed crust with cashew nut cheese and typically has a tomato marinara sauce. Rawlicious also has pastas, such as Zucchetti Rose, Pasta Bolognese, and Pad Thai. However, none of these items have cooked noodles, as one of the servers said: “We don’t cook anything.” He also said their pastas were more like “salads”. I wasn’t hungry enough to try one, but if you want something unique, choose any of their pasta entrées.

You can’t leave without having a blonde macaroon for dessert, or take some home for a treat. They are absolutely delicious and will leave you craving more. It’s no wonder these small balls made with coconut, cashew, vanilla, and maple syrup are their best seller.

Overall, Rawlicious is worth the experience, although it is far too pricy to visit on a regular basis. I was tempted to try the Strawberry Milkshake, which is made with nutmilk, strawberries, avocado, agave, and vanilla; however, I opted for a warm cup of chocolate Chai tea, due to the smoothie’s price tag. Wraps and salads start at $9.00. You can pay up to $16.00 for a small entrée, not to mention their smoothies and drinks start around $7.00/each. At the same time, you get what you pay for and if you’re looking for a healthy, organic, and vegan option the next time you eat out, Rawlicious definitely contains enough raw goodness to please your taste buds.

The restaurant is open Sunday-Thursday 11:00am – 9:00pm. Friday and Saturday 11:00am – 10:00pm. Take out is also available. Contact at 705.739.1001 to place an order or reserve a table for six or more guests. For more information, also visit the website: http://rawlicious.ca/canada/locations/barrie

-Written by: Hannah Guirguis

Hannah Guirguis is a freelance writer from Barrie, Ontario. Follow her tweets @hannahj_07 and her blog at: wordsinair.weebly.com

View Rawlicious’ profile here.

SPICE Indian Cuisine and Wine Bar in Barrie

A couple years ago, I ate at this restaurant as a birthday outing suggested by a couple friends, so to many like me, it isn’t a new restaurant. On this re-acquaintance with SPICE, I noticed that I wasn’t over-dressed, however if a semi-formal atmosphere is what you’re looking for, you need to look no further.

During our quaint lunch I observed that there was a significant office-worker client base. It struck me as a bit of a surprise because Indian food is notorious for heavy spice quantities. In defense of the food, on which I will later expand, it only took one buffet plate for me to realize the broad appeal to patrons on a lunch-break. When I first stepped into the restaurant I was intimidated by the chic décor. Its exquisite interior, fine cutlery, and well chosen china blended nicely with the non-Canadian menu options. SPICE is a culinary escape from our Canadian norms.

There were Canadian sides like coleslaw and macaroni salad; on top of that there were enough options, on the buffet menu, to fully service a vegetarian diet. Ultimately, what won over my guest and I, were the authentic Indian treats. Samosas are slowly growing into a popular American snack because of the heavy pastry content. However, after trying SPICE, I can now say that samosas are only made best by true Indian chefs. And no Indian meal would be complete without the curry. Between the two of us, we enjoyed probably the finest butter chicken and curried beef Barrie has to offer, for the price.

As for the amount of spice that you think may be troublesome to withstand, I found the spice factor was actually quite minimal. I’m not a person who can handle copious amounts of spice either, but the restaurant wasn’t anything like Hollywood’s portrayal of Indian restaurants. In movies, you always see people rushing for the bathroom, like they had just polished off a can of Metamucil. In the case of SPICE, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, the SPICE website discusses some of the health benefits of the spices that are used in many of the menu choices.

For instance, about cinnamon, it says “Detoxifying herb, creates freshness, strengthens and energizes the tissues. Acts as a pain reliever, promotes digestion and has a natural cleansing action. Also relieves cold, cough and congestion. It may help people with adult onset diabetes. Helps reduce inflammation Enhances the brain, cognitive processing, memory and visual motor speed. It’s used to provide relief from cold and flu.” The rest of the article can be found on the SPICE website: www.spiceforme.com.

All in all, SPICE is perfect for a quick lunch, because you can grab a couple of plates from the buffet in less than 30 minutes. It is also a great starter for your night out because the Indian food selection is, in a good way, going to be culturally-provocative in terms of conversation and mood. And what’s best is you won’t be left with a huge tab. Our two-person buffet cost us only $27.00 with two soft drinks. Considering that a Chinese buffet for two will easily put you over the $30.00 threshold, SPICE is really a great deal, because it just has way more class.

-Written by: Michael Whone

Follow Michael Whone on Twitter @whoneranger and visit his website: www.rivervanstyle.com

Hours of Operation:
Lunch
11:30 – 2:30 PM
Dinner
5:00 – 9:00 PM
5:00 – 10:00 PM (Fri-Sat)

16 Dunlop Street East,
Barrie, ON

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Catch 22 Fresh Market Grill in Wasaga Beach

The place “has a great vibe,” Bickmore told Simcoe Dining last week. “We offer a comfortable, casual elegance.”

As for the popularity of the new 40-seat venue, opened only two months ago, Bickmore said, “we’re chock-a-block full! Word’s getting out there that you’re best to call ahead.”

The seafood label can be misleading, he said. “We feature fresh market cuisine, locally sourced as much as possible.” The constantly changing menu includes wild game in fall and, of course, there is always fresh fish and seafood. Three favourites that always remain on the menu are seafood stuffed sole, Ahi tuna and pan roasted shell fish.

“We offer superb service,” he said, adding “we don’t beat people up in the pocketbook. We want people to leave happy.”

Born and raised in Toronto, Bickmore has been a chef for 25 years. He became familiar with this area when he began bringing his kids to ski at Blue Mountain every March Break. About eight years ago he had the opportunity to open a restaurant in Collingwood. Catch 22 became well known throughout a wide area.

“We had a great run,” he noted but he wanted to downsize and his partner, Cori, wanted to retire. The move to the Mosley Street location brought him closer to home as, he said, he’s lived in the Beach for the past five years.

His entire full time staff followed him to the new location. Manager, Ashley Wray has been with him for over five years. “This is what we do and we love doing it. We have a huge passion for what we do. I work 90 hours a week because I love it,” he said.

catch 22 wasaga beach

Bickmore’s two sons, Michael and Zachary are also involved in the business. “I’m the absolute luckiest guy in the world” to have my two grown sons working here.

Many groups reserve seating at Catch 22. Bickmore said he had one group of 30 booked for this week. “I do groups all the time, such as Probus and other associations. One group has reserved the whole restaurant in October.” Gatherings for wine tasting and wine paring, along with beer and wine sampling are also accommodated.

“Absolutely everything is made from scratch, using as much local produce as we can source,” he said. “We try to support local business and farming and agriculture as much as possible.”

“The more we support locally, the better off everyone is” he said adding that, we pay more money but it makes for a greener world. Our community supports us and we want to support our community.

Asked about his washroom facilities which require a step up to enter, Bickmore explained that there were many aspects of the new location to upgrade and expand and space was limited. Since the building housed a restaurant before, the lack of accessibility was grandfathered in.

Bickmore said the wine cellar is being rebuilt following the move from Collingwood. “We’re known to have a decent wine list with wines available by the glass or bottle.”

Catch 22 is open for lunch Tuesday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner Tuesday to Sunday from 5:00 p.m. until “whenever,” he quipped. “We’re open till 10, guaranteed.”

-Written By: Joanne Saunders

Joanne Saunders is a freelance journalist living in Wasaga Beach

Catch 22
962 Mosley Street (north side, between 20th and 21st Streets)
Wasaga Beach
705-422-2281
www.catch22grill.com