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A pleasantly fun fish house

Hello Betty's signature dish comes with a side of beach buggy flair

Everybody at Hello Betty recommends the fish & chips.
Everybody at Hello Betty recommends the fish & chips.

My server's answer surprised me, so when she walked away, I flagged down another waitress to ask for a second opinion. Which dish, off the entire dinner menu, did she recommend for someone after the restaurant's best entrée?

Her answer was the same: fish and chips.

Place

Hello Betty Fish House

211 Mission Avenue, Oceanside

I was sitting inside Hello Betty Fish House, the seafood restaurant affixed to the front corner of the Marriott hotel overlooking Oceanside pier. Taking a look around, the nautical rope and distressed wood décor reminded me I was, in fact, in a seafood spot. Surfer and beach cruiser imagery reminded me I was in a beach town. The actual beach buggy parked in the back corner of the restaurant? I think that's just meant to remind me to have fun.

A beach buggy keeps it light.

Fish and chips are fun, I guess, but with the option to choose among several mesquite grilled fish entrées, a West Coast take on a seafood boil, and clams linguine, I'd have thought at least someone would suggest going for one of the menu items that cost over $20. But no. The number two pick of Server One was a fish sandwich; Server Two referred to one of several fried or grilled fish tacos.

So I went with the fish and chips, for 16 and change.

Turn around to see Oceanside beach and pier.

The place manages to look pretty decked out inside, without losing any casual flair, but the only real view of the ocean is through the long window behind the bar. The thing to do is visit on a warm evening, around sunset, and sit outside, on the spacious patio facing the beach. Or, if it's a weekend night and you're feeling more like drinks and snacks, upstairs on the rooftop deck, where a limited menu of appetizers will set you up with oysters, shrimp cocktails, and ceviche, plus a few of the tacos.

Now, it probably took you longer to read that last paragraph than it did for my fish and chips to come out. I wondered if the almost-no-time-at-all it takes for the kitchen to get that out has something to do with it being the staff's go-to recommendation? Not that I'm complaining — I did walk in hungry.

Served with a side of housemade tartar sauce, the deep-fried cod appeared in long strips, with standard cut fries, and both were pleasantly crispy. The fish batter, especially, had a perfect level of crunch, giving way to the flaky cod within. It was a wonderfully delightful, mild-mannered meal.

For all the decorative flair, this so-called signature dish could have used more seasoning. The tartar sauce offered that cooling mayo touch, but not enough flavor to liven things up. Perhaps she saw me starting to reach for the vinegar a little too often, but my server suggested I might prefer ranch dressing. That's hospitality in a nutshell.

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Everybody at Hello Betty recommends the fish & chips.
Everybody at Hello Betty recommends the fish & chips.

My server's answer surprised me, so when she walked away, I flagged down another waitress to ask for a second opinion. Which dish, off the entire dinner menu, did she recommend for someone after the restaurant's best entrée?

Her answer was the same: fish and chips.

Place

Hello Betty Fish House

211 Mission Avenue, Oceanside

I was sitting inside Hello Betty Fish House, the seafood restaurant affixed to the front corner of the Marriott hotel overlooking Oceanside pier. Taking a look around, the nautical rope and distressed wood décor reminded me I was, in fact, in a seafood spot. Surfer and beach cruiser imagery reminded me I was in a beach town. The actual beach buggy parked in the back corner of the restaurant? I think that's just meant to remind me to have fun.

A beach buggy keeps it light.

Fish and chips are fun, I guess, but with the option to choose among several mesquite grilled fish entrées, a West Coast take on a seafood boil, and clams linguine, I'd have thought at least someone would suggest going for one of the menu items that cost over $20. But no. The number two pick of Server One was a fish sandwich; Server Two referred to one of several fried or grilled fish tacos.

So I went with the fish and chips, for 16 and change.

Turn around to see Oceanside beach and pier.

The place manages to look pretty decked out inside, without losing any casual flair, but the only real view of the ocean is through the long window behind the bar. The thing to do is visit on a warm evening, around sunset, and sit outside, on the spacious patio facing the beach. Or, if it's a weekend night and you're feeling more like drinks and snacks, upstairs on the rooftop deck, where a limited menu of appetizers will set you up with oysters, shrimp cocktails, and ceviche, plus a few of the tacos.

Now, it probably took you longer to read that last paragraph than it did for my fish and chips to come out. I wondered if the almost-no-time-at-all it takes for the kitchen to get that out has something to do with it being the staff's go-to recommendation? Not that I'm complaining — I did walk in hungry.

Served with a side of housemade tartar sauce, the deep-fried cod appeared in long strips, with standard cut fries, and both were pleasantly crispy. The fish batter, especially, had a perfect level of crunch, giving way to the flaky cod within. It was a wonderfully delightful, mild-mannered meal.

For all the decorative flair, this so-called signature dish could have used more seasoning. The tartar sauce offered that cooling mayo touch, but not enough flavor to liven things up. Perhaps she saw me starting to reach for the vinegar a little too often, but my server suggested I might prefer ranch dressing. That's hospitality in a nutshell.

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Comments
13

About three, maybe four, weeks ago, we were treated to a review of this restaurant by another reviewer. It wasn't all that flattering, and some commenters, including me, had some comments. That review was definitely of this same establishment.

Funny thing--when I try to bring up that review, it won't show. But I can still find my comments which were posted on January 28 of this year. The headline was "Hello Betty is not so welcoming as it sounds." The reviewer didn't have much good to say about the service, and revealed that she took the food home to eat it, as I recall.

Ian seems to think the food there is good; the other Reader reviewer wasn't impressed.

Whazzup guys?

Feb. 21, 2017

I hope The Reader isn't going low and doing the kind of crap that Yelp does. Pay-to-play. I remember reading that review as well and now it looked like it has been scrubbed.

On another note, the same thing happened with a trendy, but horribly overpriced place called "Trust." A not so flattering review came out, then it was followed by Barbarella and another writer with more glowing accolades.

Feb. 21, 2017

Click on the image to enlarge:

"Lucy, you've got some 'splaining to do!"

Feb. 21, 2017

Ponzi, however you did it, that's the image of the review that I recalled. And, just what is going on here?

Feb. 21, 2017

Visdah, I just found it. I've learned some work arounds.

The Reader went to some effort to remove the story. They scrubbed both their server from the story but flushed the cache from Google's repository. Somebody wanted that story gone.

This does not sit well with me. I consider myself a 'foodie' I love to cook and love the food scene. I used to subscribe to Food & Wine, Saveur, Gourmet, and others. Today I use Yelp and The Reader for reviews on food and restaurants. I read them all two Ian's and Candice.

I did not find that restaurant review to be condemning enough to be removed. It was an honest and candid review. I blush at reviews that I read that are deliberately negative. But this review was not. If it were too negative to publish, why did it get past the editor?

It may seem a big fuss to question the missing review. But to me it clearly begs what The Reader is up to. This little matter has a great impression on my opinion on the bias and credibility of The Reader. Are you going to be less critical on potential advertisers? Or what is the reason to remove a story and follow it up with a favorable one.

I suppose this is a 'perk' for online publications because they can selectively 'erase' a story if, for some reason, it post-publishing became unpopular in 'the news room.' In the good old days of all print, a 'retraction' would be required. Today it is 'snip'

In the present media environment, I am leery of every source. This is interesting.

Feb. 21, 2017

This one is barely a review at all--short and not detailed; more like an addendum. As I recall, the previous one was at least a little more comprehensive.

Feb. 22, 2017

No pay to play, no inside contacts.

There was some unfairness in the first review, so we gave another writer a chance.

Feb. 22, 2017

Do you mind sharing what was unfair and why it was so unfair it had to be removed?

Feb. 22, 2017

I too would be interested in knowing what was considered unfair. I ask only because that previous review was a carbon copy of every experience my husband and I have ever had at Hello Betty's.

Feb. 22, 2017

I have zero contact with any ad sales people, and never saw the previous review. However, I did subject my servers to a rigorous series of questions, per usual. Aside from pushing those fish & chips, I felt they treated me well.

Feb. 22, 2017

So Ian, how do you really feel about paying "16 and change" for a plate of fish and chips that includes fish, chips and tartar sauce? Usually an order of fish and chips gets a side of cole slaw, green salad, or something. And that "usually" doesn't cost over $16. That is a tourist trap price, IMHO.

Feb. 25, 2017

Yes, it's a bit steep for cod and potatoes. Sadly, I've come to expect steeper prices and run of the mill ingredients at beachfront restaurants — you don't exactly get a lot of chef-owned restaurants with views, so tourists and other guests pay for the location more than the cuisine. In this case, it is a hotel restaurant, and tourist-friendly has to be part of its DNA, so I get why they would want the fish & chips of all things to be a mild and inoffensive. What I don't get why they would push it on someone who's clearly asking for their most remarkable dish.

Feb. 25, 2017

Someone should visit Chef John's Fish & Chips in Lemon Grove. Best fish and chips I have had anywhere. 1 piece of fish with a pile of fries $7.99 That's all I can eat. 2 pieces $11.49 and 3 is $14.49 Chef John is the owner and operator. Perfectly fried and not greasy.

Feb. 26, 2017

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