Recently we went on a vacation up towards Tobermory in Ontario and everyone was telling us about the wonderful white fish that is used for the fish and chips in Tobermory. As someone that enjoys good fish I was looking forward to trying this out and we were told that the restaurants understood the shellfish allergy so I should have a problem.
Once we arrived In Tobermory we found that there were at least four different places that served fish and chips so that should mean an easy time for us to have a meal of fish and chips. I should have figured it was too good to be true because it didn’t take us too long to start to figure out that my wanting fish which was fried was going to be a challenge.
The first restaurant we went into had white fish as the fish and chips so that started to make me happy until I saw that shrimp and calamari was also served that this restaurant. We sat down and looked at the menu and when the server came over we asked if the fish was cooked in the same oil as the shrimp and calamri and it was confirmed they were so that meant that fried fish was out of the question for me. They did let me know that they could pan fry the fish if I wanted but again it wasn’t fish and chips. We left the restaurant and let them know that we were leaving because of the issue of the fish and shrimp being cooked in the same oil.
The second restaurant was a small restaurant so I didn’t even sit down when I saw that shrimp in a basket was another option on the menu. We once again asked if it was fried in the same oil and were told that they were. We left the restaurant after letting them know that they had lost our business because of that.
The third restaurant we decided to just look at the menu and quickly discovered that shrimp was once again being offered as an option so we didn’t even ask question but did say we were leaving because of the shrimp being an option on the menu. It was getting extremely frustrating because of course after hearing about white fish I really wanted to have it as I don’t get to have deep fried fish very often because of the shrimp and calarami being good in the same oil.
Now it left one last restaurant as an option for lunch so we figured that we were going to go and have something to eat there even if I couldn’t have the fish. We arrived and looked at the menu and once again found out that they server shrimp and calarami so that meant I was once again going to have an issue. We asked the server if the fish was fried in the same oil as the other items and she said she didn’t think so but would confirm that for me. I started to feel a little happier but of course didn’t want to get my hopes up because I figure she was going to tell me that after checking with the kitchen everything was fried in the same oil. Well, she came back to our table and gave us some good and bad news. The good news was that the fish was fried in a separate area but the french fries were in the same oil as the shrimp. So that meant that I could have the fish but not the french fries but I could have a salad with the fish so that is what I decided to have. The fish was wonderful and it went down way too quickly so now I know that there is at least one place where I can have deep fried fish.
During this trip we wanted to let restaurants know that they were losing business because of serving fried shrimp and calarmi as well as the fish and chips. I understand that we are only two customers but the more of us that let restaurants know about the issue of cross contamination and the issue of serving shrimp and calarmi also with fried fish may help moving forward.
I am very thankful that at least one restaurant in Tobermory was able to help me have the deep fried white fish that I wanted. There may be others there but I know of the four restaurants we checked only one was able to really accommodate the shellfish allergy in a way that was great for me. I hope to go back to Tobermory next summer and I know that I will be checking out this restaurant and one other restaurant that we saw after we had lunch.
Shellfish allergies can be a real challenge for someone eating out and especially when fish isn’t an issue. If a restaurant promotes something that is very local maybe they should think about not serving something that isn’t local so that more people can enjoy the local specialty. I enjoyed my white fish and now to see if I can have it again next time we are back in Tobermory. I am happy that one restaurant fried their fish differently because it meant I got to enjoy something local.