Fish and Chips at VIA Birch Bay Cafe and Bistro

 Birch Bay Issues, Food  Comments Off on Fish and Chips at VIA Birch Bay Cafe and Bistro
Oct 152012
 

VIA Birch Bay Cafe and Bistro, the only property on the water side of central Birch Bay Drive, recently opened for business under the experienced eye of Mr. Yoon Oh. This genial and optimistic restauranteur welcomes patrons with a warm handshake and cheerful smile. He offers us boat-side service if we ever paddle up in our kayak.

VIA Birch Bay Cafe and Bistro
 Mr. Oh tells us that, because of his shoreline location, multiple county and state restrictions limit what he could and could not do when renovating the space for his new restaurant.

View of Birch Bay from VIA

The main improvement was replacing the musty old carpeting with an appealing hardwood floor. And, of course, the exterior Ivory Palace paint that erased the former dull brown. The dining area, bar and espresso counter offer amazing views of the bay, ever changing with the weather and the tide level.

This is the second in our “Who has the best fish and chips in Birch Bay?” series. We order their cod and Al has chips and coleslaw, which come standard, with his; Ruth requests a substitute garden salad ($10.00 each – Mr. Oh does not fool around with .99 prices). We also spring for a shared appetizer of pick ‘n peel shrimp ($8.00).
Farren, our wait person, is a model customer-service person–as is Steve, the manager on duty.
       Water and wine (a couple of crisp Barefoot Pinot Grigios–$5.00 each) keep us occupied while we wait for the appetizer. In less than ten minutes, the succulent shrimp hit our table. They with the cocktail sauce are sensational.
Succulent shrimp

Many of the staff are familiar to Birch Bay patrons from their previous service at the former CJ’s Beachhouse.

Scrumptious fish with fries
Scrumptious fish with salad
When the entrees arrive, the fish batter is crisp and brown, cooked  throughout,  The cod is moist and scrumptious. The platter comes with a lemon wedge and we request malt vinegar.
The food is fine and upcoming events at VIA include Hallowe’en, New Years Eve and New Years Day Parties.  (Oh yes, see PrudentVentures.blogspot.com for an October 28 Conversation with Congressional Candidate Suzan
                                                                           DelBene.)
Our conclusion is that VIA is a positive addition to the food establishments of Birch Bay.

Sampling Fish and Chips at Shores

 Birch Bay Issues, Food  Comments Off on Sampling Fish and Chips at Shores
Oct 092012
 

Shores, located in Birch Bay’s Sandcastle Resort, is a family restaurant/sports bar. That makes for a mixed dynamic: sporadically raucous team fans competeing with youngsters who have neglected to leave their “outside voices” at the door.
Here to test their claim as, “The Best Fish and Chips in Birch Bay,” we order their cod offering, leaving the halibut choice for another time. Al has chips and coleslaw that comes standard; Ruth requests a substitute garden salad ($11.99). Christine, our perky and cheerful waitperson, is attentive and knowledgeable.
Water and wine (a refreshing 14 Hands Pinot Grigio in a generous six ounce pour–$6.00 each) keep us occupied while we wait for the kitchen to catch up with the less-than-over-whelming demands. We scan the spacious room where bright green and blue wooden chairs contrast with the mahogany booths and chairs. At least eight television sets keep the home-town crowd entranced as the Seattle Seahawks best the Carolina Panthers.
Out bountiful platters arrive with two large portions of fish and healthy serving of chips and coleslaw and salad. The fish batter is crisp and browned on the outside, while slightly gummy on the inside. The cod is ideal, cooked not too much nor too little. The platter comes with a lemon wedge to complement the malt vinegar and ketchup available on the table.
Shores does not have a declared splitting policy, but Christine assured us we could order one serving and she would provide an extra plate and tartar sauce.
Because it is hard to check out the cleanliness of the kitchen, Ruth has always depended on the restroom as a measure of the overall sanitary practices. This one is clean and bright. As in many other places these days, the former hand-soap dispenser holes gape out of the counter; the soap is now dispensed by a motion-sensor wall device. Motion activated units also dispense paper towels. Al described the men’s room as adequately suppled and clean, although it would not make Achitectural Digest.
Patrons enjoy the panoramic bay view from the deck on this sunny October Sunday as well as from indoors.
We relished our take-home portions the next day. Now the dilemma will be whether we split an order in the future or anticipate a second serving.