An often overlooked restaurant, the tiny lighthouse attached to the Billingsgate Fish Market is a quirky place and was the recent location for a much-needed lunch break. Walking through the market, we arrived to a restaurant packed with an older population and one server who was busy running her feet off.
Attempting to get the servers attention and mention that I would like to sit near the window table (two tables were leaving at the same time) I was quickly put in my place and was told quite firmly ‘It Is Not Clean!’. Eventually though, our teacher-like server allowed us to sit and take in the menu.
With enough time to look over the menu while we waited to be seated, we were pretty much ready to rock. The staff to customer ratio however, meant we weren’t able to place our order for another 10 minutes. With two fish n’ chip options (halibut or catch of the day), The Captain ordered the Catch of the Day Fish n’ Chips and subbed out normal fires for sweet potato. BP decided on the Pacific Halibut Burger, which came with soup. While I needed to quench a growing desire and ordered Mussels Provencale along with a bowl of Spicy Shrimp Mulligatawny Soup which was the soup du jour.
My soup order was brought in a flash, and I discovered a cream curry soup that was so overloaded with cinnamon that BP mentioned it was like eating a spice muffin. Strangely addictive for myself, as I love cinnamon, I could see this being a little over the top for some. The token white bun was cold and cardboard like. With my bowl of soup done, we ended up waiting almost 25 minutes for our mains to arrive, and during this time I noticed that regardless of when you came, your order could come at any time. For example, the table next to us arrived a good 10 minutes after us, and received their mains before another table that was there before us. I don’t mind the wait, but the timing gets me.
The burger was first to arrive, and we were all surprised to see the patty breaded and fried. For some reason, we all had a picture of a ground or freshly formed patty. The advertised orange citrus mayo was nowhere to be found, but BP did like the cucumber and toasted whole wheat bun. Her side of soup was also the soup of the day.
The catch of the day happened to be catfish, and arrived to the table shortly after the burger. Looking a little darker than it should, we noticed the outside was not crispy. Cooked through, the batter still seemed soft and springy. The catfish didn’t offer a lot of flavour, but was dense and made for a good portion. No sweet potato fries in the back meant The Captain was given the standard frozen bag variety. The coleslaw was very generic, and The Captain compared it to bag slaw minus any dill.
My mussels showed up last and included a side of herb focaccia. In a cute little bowl, my large portions of tiny ocean treats, was left rather plain with all of the white wine garlic sitting on the bottom. The trick here was to remove the meat and spoon on the accompanying sauce. Perfectly cooked, it quenched my desire and left me burping enough garlic to scare vampires. The herb foaccacia was nothing special, but it did its job in absorbing excess sauce.
Overall I have to say the Lighthouse Cafe was disappointing. From the mixed service (occasionally present in body, never in mind) to just average food. For some reason I expected more from one of the city’s top purveyors of fresh seafood. I suppose if anything, the cafe could be an after thought; a good way to get people into the shop or use up product. All said and done, I’ll stay away from the restaurant and stick with the market.