Barb's is a funky, Victoria staple located right on the water at Fisherman's wharf, serving up fresh fish, chips & burgers. Barb's is closed from November - February.
Barb's prides itself on 25 years of business and being named the "Best Fish & Chips" several years in a row. I'll get to the food in a minute...
First off, the pager system is a pleasant convenience for people who'd rather mill about on the scenic docks of Fisherman's Wharf rather than the picnic tables and banquet tenting adjacent to the restaurant. While they'd get 5 stars for "location," dirty picnic tables at which you find yourself sitting with random people do not for great "ambiance" make.
While making my order, I overheard a woman who I suspect was a manager, name-tagged Sandra, talk about a piece of fish that had been sitting on the counter for over 5 minutes and the customer had not come back. She instructed her underling to use the fish in another order. Granted that a piece of deep-fried Haddock is going to have a quick turnover. However, if you're going to re-use someone else's order, at least don't talk about that fact right in front of customers.
I went to the side where they have unlimited fountain pop, and watched the kitchen in action. Production seemed smooth and they had ample employees. Despite the ostensible efficiency of pagers, the people being called were erratically out of sequence compared to the order they were in the line. If their service was based on how elaborate the order was, then my 1 piece of deep-fried halibut and fries should have taken less time than the 15 minutes it did. While waiting for the order, I witnessed someone ask a patio attendant where the recycling was and he replied that they don't recycle. I didn't confirm this, but I did note that despite being in the midst of "fresh-off-the-boat" seafood, Barb's Fish & Chips is not an Oceanwise Restaurant.
When my order was finally called I went over and turned in my pager. The counter girl, Gina, proceeded to give me two double orders of Haddock (the type of fish which was sent back earlier). I corrected her mix-up, and she was turning around to grab what was my actual order - a simple mistake - when Sandra, who was done sending back old fish for reuse and was now up in my face as if the double order of 2-piece haddock dinners was correct, and that I was wrong. She asked me to produce a receipt to prove otherwise. If I hadn't remembered my pager number, we may have been at some sort of bizarre impasse. Sandra as a manager might want to take some cues from her counter-girl, who realized the wisdom of the "customer is always right" when it comes to a mistaken order. It's not like I was someone who ordered a single piece of fish and was trying to scam myself two double-orders for one!
So finally: the FISH itself! Barb's Fish & Chips DO have the best deep-fried fish I've had to date in Victoria (although I've only been to Salty's, RedFishBlueFish, James Bay Fish & Chips and Fifth St Fish & Chips in Sidney). The batter was perfect and light on the oil saturation. The halibut inside was perfect. They get 5 stars for just the fish, and the fish ONLY.
The fries had the texture of freezer fries and had clearly been sitting out, and not even under a heat lamp as they had a sogginess to them that heat lamps tend to dry out. Flacid, flavourless, sandy-soggy freezer fry texture do not complete the "Best Fish&Chips" in town. I won't even get into the dill-laden coleslaw (was that a mistake on the part of an employee, or do they always make it like that) which was a total anti-climax to meal. If you nail the fish so perfectly, why can't you put a little effort into the rest?
There is an upside that, unlike other places, you can get individual pieces of fish without the fries and coleslaw - and if you want to try the best deep-fried fish in town - this would be the way to go. And take it up above fisherman's wharf away from the Barb's Fish & Chips dining area where there's tree-shaded areas far more pleasant to enjoy your meal.
I have lived here in Victoria My Whole Life And About 20 Years Ago Barb's Place Fish And Chips Indeed Was An Excellent Place To Have Fish And Chips And It Was Inexpensive And Good Quality...Fast Forward To Barb's Now In The Present Day And While It Has A Solid Atmosphere Being Outdoors Right On Fisherman's Wharf The Food Is Horrible. It is Extremely Expensive And You Get A Tiny Little Bit Of Fish That Is About The Size Of A Two Dollar Coin. The Last Time I Ate There Was The Last Time I Would Ever Eat There. The Staff Were Unfriendly, To Busy To Even Look At Me When I Was Talking, And When I Got My Fish It Was Half Cooked And The Batter Was Almost Completely Raw. I Actually Got Ill After Eating There. In My Honest Opinion.......The Only Thing Good About Barb's Place Fish And Chips Is It's Location. BIG THUMBS DOWN.
It is inevitable to not eat when I go to Fisherman's wharf, so when I came here and saw the huge lineup outside of Barb's, I blindly followed.
Till today, I am still wondering why so many people were lining up to eat there! The service is alright, albeit slow, but the lineup is ridiculous. I waited half an hour to get inside. AT LEAST. Thinking the fish and chips was going to be good, I stayed in line. It is advertised as the best, #1 fish & chips but thats not what I saw! I got the halibut fish and chips and found it extremely bland and tasteless. The fish did not even taste fresh which got me disappointed, as the food is not cheap. I think it draws a lot of tourist but as a local I dont think i will come back.
We were there on a weekend and were pretty impressed with the food. All was hot and tasty but I hesitate recommending this restaurant for a few reasons -
1) the service is quite slow and they use a pager system. Our meal was not elaborate but they still took over 10 minutes to prepare it. The restaurant was not that busy either. For a concession stand charging the prices we paid, I expect faster service.
2) the prices are too high and what you'd expect to pay in a restaurant. $13 for an order of fish and chips is fit for a sit down restaurant but is TOO HIGH for a concession stand, which what Barb's is.
3) birds congregate around Barb's to eat leftovers and because the tourists feed them. Although there are signs saying not to feed the birds, these birds are still there and they will swoop in as soon as someone gets up and leaves their table, grab what they can, and fly off. It's pretty gross to see and to have a bird almost fly into your head making off with someone's leftover food. They should try more creative solutions to the bird problem such as using nets.
Barb's is in a prime location and they have made a name for themselves over the years, but they seem to be trying to take advantage of all of it too much nowadays by charging too much and overloading the kitchen with orders so the service is slow.
Barb's gets a visit from us at least 2-3 times per year, mainly in the summer months. Good change of pace to eat outside, on the docks, and be out on the beautiful Victoria waterfront.
We always get the same thing: 1 or 2 pc Halibut with Fries
Sometimes my husband & I will share a 2-pc Halibut & Fries because we're not keen on so many fries. It's about $17 or $18 for this, so very reasonable to share & plenty of food for both. Sometimes we've ordered a side of coleslaw when sharing. Our vegetarian daughter can get a veggie burger there too.
We like Barb's...you go there partly for the fish, partly for the fun of eating out on the docks.
NOTE: In the busy summer months it can be difficult to find a table, especially when the cruise ships are in. You have the pager & the wait for your food, so often times you can mill around & nab a table in the meantime (but you have to be aware & quick!)
If you had good quality fish and chips elsewhere, it would not be worth your time and money to dine at this place. We arrived at 7 p.m. or so on foot from downtown Victoria.
1. Price:$9.95 for a one-piece fish and chips (or coleslaw) and the two piece is $14.95. I opted for the coleslaw and no fries. Here's the breakdown. Fish $4.95 Coleslaw (4 oz) 1.80 French Bread (1 thin and small slice) 0.95 Orange Soda (in can) 2.85.
2. Food: There is nothing spectacular about the fish. The batter is a bit too thick so it's not fully cooked. It also disguised the size of the fish. There were a few fries. They were greasy and dry. The coleslaw was average quality and nothing exciting.
3. Service: For a waterfront fish and chip joint, service was exceptionally slow. There were no more than 20 customers but our order took 30-40 minutes.
4. Ambience: It's a good location. The view is nice.
Overall, we would not recommend this place. Being from Seattle, we have good quality fish and chips throughout the area. For the price that they charge, we expect faster service and better quality. Its business model seems to focus on extracting the tourist dollars but not establishing repeat customers.
YUMMMMMM, the best fish and chips place in victoria, and no other restaurant can beat the view, I mean come one your right on the water. This is another victoria classic and a must for any tourist. The price is a little high but the food is worth every penny, this place gets busy so be prepared to wait a bit
Coming from the UK I have a reasonable idea about fish and chips (ok the fish are probably nicer over the pond.) Anyway I had heard some hype about this place and took my folks when they came over to stay. Overpriced and poxy are words I can use to describe the meal. The fish were tiny and there wasn't much fish in the batter. We got a lot of chip, if memory serves, but who cares, they're cheap!
I believe Barb's is not under the original management so that's possibly why it sucked so bad. They'll make a fortune just because of where it is but if you have the choice give it a wide birth.
Barbs used to be awesome when the fish was thick, the price was reasonable, and the quality of the food was great. That is what made Barb's great and the good food created the popularity. Now they are abusing this popularity to skimp on the fish and quality. Barbs is no longer the place it used to be, there is more batter than fish, the fries are lumpy, and they just don't care anymore. The original Barb sold it and now the place sucks because of it.
Our food was good (above average for Fish n Chips, I guess) but not really worth the huge line-up (took over half an hour in the heat to get our food). They also don't have that much seating, so we had to go eat in the park area nearby - which wasn't a terrible thing since it was a beautiful day.
If I was in the area, I would probably return.
We visited Victoria both in July and August 2007 and were lured to Barb's Fish and Chips by the charming Water Taxi drivers. We would never have even known about Barbs except that my husband asked where we should go for great fish and chips. I think that these guys must get free food or something. Big lineup (probably all tourists like us). Food was not very good and servers were okay but probably overwhelmed by the huge number of people there.
Ambience was great as it is located right on Fisherman's Wharf. We would not go back to Barbs's.
Having visited the warf a few times and never eating at Barb's because the line was so long, we were pleased to stop the other day when the line was reasonable and moved quickly. The sun was shining but the wind was blowing so a bowl of chowder and some fish and chips were ordered. The pagers are an efficient way to tell customers when their order is ready and getting drinks right away helps to pass the time. The chowder was tasty (finding spoons was a challenge) the fries were okay though cool by the time we got to eat them (due to the wind and eating our chowder first), unfortunately the fish was more batter than fish. We had two pieces. One was not bad but we couldn't find the fish in the second.
We may enjoy a cup of chowder another day, but will find our fish and chips elsewhere.
Aaaa Barb’s Place. What can I say about Barb's world famous fish and chips? As a long time Victoria resident, I’ve been enjoying the whole “Barb’s” experience for a number of years. The food is always fresh and plentiful and the staff is top notch. Although wait times vary, it’s very much worth it. I love that they give you a pager so you can sit down and wait till your buzzed. In the end this means more time enjoying the scenery and less having to hang around looking to see if your order is up. When family or friends are in town, we always make a trip to the wharf for this one of a kind, Victoria happening.
I'll be back (just try and keep me away)!
Barb's is always a stop when I am in Victoria. The fish and chips are always reliably good but be sure to try the other entrees as well - I always have the oysterburgers when I am in town. Lineups in the summer are long-ish, but every place is busy during that time! Even with the deluge of people you can always count on the front counter for a good word and a smile.
best fish and chips in the area! perfect batter. not soaked in oil like others. staff was friendly. except gave me wrong change back. but after i pointed it out, she apologized and gave me correct change