July 2008 Updated review at New Owners Helen's Fish and Chips.
One little gem of a diner in Port Credit is Helen's Fish and Chips. You could drive along Lakeshore past the lighthouse every day and still not notice it tucked back behind Starbuck's.
In fact, it was because of a stop for coffee one blustery day last March that I first came across it at the back of the parking lot. When I saw the sign for fish, I forgot about coffee and veered into this little resto below. It's just west of the lighthouse and bridge, on the south side of Lakeshore. Parking in the lot to the left in this photo, or out front as shown.
Now, the quirky thing about Helen's is that it does NOT accept any currency except cash. This means no credit cards, no debit cards, no cheques (checks). No exceptions. (The priciest dish is about $12 or so) Scramble through your pockets and wallet, and come up with hard cash. It's usually worth it.
I say 'usually' because I have had fabulous lunches here, and sometimes less than fabulous (ease up on the oil, fellas!). The fish and chips plate in the picture below is cod with Greek salad. The week before, I had an almost identical meal, except with halibut. I prefer halibut, and will not ask for cod again.
The first time I had the Greek salad, it was so delicious, I couldn't stop eating it; The next time, the dressing was too oily, with none of the classic tang. Chips are not salted, though, for which Helen's is to be commended.
The menu is posted on signs above the open kitchen, with daily specials on the blackboard. There are no substitutions allowed, though if salad is part of the special, you get your choice -- Greek, ceasar, slaw, etc. The menu allows for many variations, though, so you can usually find the combo you want.
Place your order at the counter. If it's really busy, they assign you a number. Get your table as fast as you can, and wait till it's called. If it's not too busy (say, a weekday mid afternoon), take a table and listen for your meal to be called by name.
Helen's also serves liquor, beer, etc, and there's a cozy bar area at the front. Not a late night place by any means -- I think it closes around 8p.m. I'll check when I go by later this week.
And on a blustery day, forget the fish -- try a bowl of steaming hot soup instead!
March 26, 2008 Update:
On Tuesday, April 1, 2008, Toronto's CityTV show Breakfast Televison (BT) host Jennifer Valentyne and crew are filming at Helen's Fish and Chips. Come on down, Everyone!