The Bay Fish & Chips is one of those places I really want to like. It may actually be good, but my one experience with it was a bit lacking. I can’t even really say that it was one particular thing that put me off about this place; the whole experience was like a never-ending chain of small disappointments that ultimately resulted in an overall opinion of “meh”.
” Weird, blue cups of water “
For starters, the spousal unit and I (for simplicity I’ll just say “we” from here on out) were finally recovering from a relatively terrible meal and we decided that we had earned something fried and tasty for our sacrifice. Fish and chips sounded dandy, and so we consulted Google for a local place we hadn’t tried yet. We drove a short couple miles down the street, following our GPS, and arrived at a strange and mildly unpleasant shopping center growing cyst-like on the side of El Camino Real. Tiny disappointment #1. Ok, well… Sometimes the best places are in grungy little shopping centers. I hope.
Actually, you know what… The signage mounted in the corner of that shopping center archway looks fairly professional. Wait a second. That big archway thing isn’t actually the front of an entire restaurant, it’s just an empty shell covering a weird, sad little space hidden in the corner. Tiny disappointment #2.
Now you can’t really photograph odor, so instead I opted for a picture of the menu board. As we walked in the door we realized that this place is not what we expected. It smelled like a noodle shop or similar Asian-style fast food joint, which is not a bad thing at all, of course, but it’s jarring when you are expecting to encounter the smell of… oh, I don’t know… perhaps fish and chips? It’s like going to take a big swig of your 7up only to discover that it’s tonic water. Euugh. Neither are bad things, but when you want one you usually don’t want the other. The place was also completely empty during lunch hour on a weekend, which was off-putting. Tiny disappointments #3 and #4.
We skipped over the wonton soup and shrimp cake options on the menu and ordered what we came for: fried sea animal parts. The person at the register – I presume one of the owners – was courteous, fast, friendly, and happy to see customers. She invited us to choose whatever table we liked and brought us tartar sauce, vinegar, and cups of water. Weird, blue cups of water. Tupperware cups like what you’d find in the bargain aisle of a 1970s Walmart. Tiny disappointment #5. Around then I noticed the decor, a painfully stereotypical arrangement of wood paneling and gilded “paintings” of sailing ships braving untamed seas. If you looked closely at the paintings, you could see that each had a thin veneer of once-airborne fish fryer oil that had condensed into sticky little vertical driplets. Tiny disappointment #6. We tried not to touch the paintings (or the walls) and waited.
I’ve spent a lot of time so far talking about all the things I didn’t like leading up to the one thing that matters: The food. A restaurant can get pretty much everything else wrong, but if they manage to produce an amazing plate of grub then quite a lot can be forgiven. Unfortunately, the fish and chips were not amazing. They were hot and crispy and overall just fine, but they weren’t exceptional. The fish was fair and very slightly too oily, and the fries were the standard crinkle-cut variety. Tiny disappointment #7. The surprising star of the show was the tartar sauce. I couldn’t tell if it was scratch made or not, but it was excellent. Certainly not a disappointment.
We left The Bay Fish & Chips unsure of whether or not we liked it. Both of us felt a little greasy from the experience, and neither of us seemed to be genuinely satisfied. The other online reviews for this restaurant are generally very positive, so I’m willing to give it another try to see if my opinion improves. From my limited experience here, however, I have to rate this place a slightly disappointing 5 out of 8 oily nautical paintings. Oh, oil paintings. I made an accidental funny.
The Bay Fish & Chips
826 W El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
Standard Restaurant Review Disclaimer
The ambiguous and illogical rating system used in this review is not intended to be pinpoint accurate. It’s only there to give you a general idea of how much I like or dislike an establishment, and it also gives me an excuse to write silly things. If my rating system angers and distracts you, there’s a good chance you have control issues. I would also like to point out that I am not a highly qualified restaurant reviewer person, nor do I particularly care what that job is called. If you were under the impression that perhaps I was one of those people, consider your hopes dashed. Lastly, wow! You read the entire disclaimer. You get a gold star on your chart today.