Three Strikes

Saturday, 29 September 2012

And you're out.
Indeed, it was a close call on this one! Read on to find out the goss...I'm writing about my dining at The Fish Shop, on Challis Ave in Potts Point. Another addition to the Hemmes' Merivale group empire that seems to be growing on a weekly basis (no joke) now, with the addition of dim sum nirvana, Mr Wong. I must admit this Friday evening hadn't gotten off to the best start, we had rocked up to The Apollo, new restaurant of chef Jonathan Barthelmess just after 18:15 and had missed out on securing a table. This is becoming a regular occurrence in my life. Why???? Not happy Jan! Not wishing to wait another 2 hours before a morsel was to pass our lips we trundled along through Potts Point like lost souls, wavering in the night. That didn't last long of course, certainly not in this postcode (2011). So we found ourselves at the new local fish & chipper.

The Bar at the Fish Shop. I liked the stripey sailor get-up worn by staff. Source: Time Out Sydney

Formerly Lotus (RIP) restaurant, the site next door to Fratelli Paradiso has been converted into a somewhat posh purveyor of Fish and Chips. Complete with fishing nets strewn from the ceiling, a fantastical display of fishing lures and life buoys strategically placed. You never know, you might have a man/woman down from the bar stools!

The decor: just in case you didn't 'catch it' before. I almost regret typing that. Source: Merivale

We were ushered to a hybrid bar/table, much too narrow by my standards (considering the amount of food we normally get through), and perched ourselves precariously upon bar stools. We were rather suitably seated to directly face the kitchen to watch its goings on e.g. lowly apprentice picking (kilos of) coriander leaves off of stalks (poor sod). Collecting a menu from the holder, we settled in to have a squiz of the evening Reel News a.k.a. le menu. A good selection of seafood dishes, supplemented by The Catch of the Day, a pin board stating simply "Barramundi, Snapper, Eel etc". How intriguing, we wanted to know (order) more.

My photoshopping ability knows bounds, that's for sure. My entree plate and the cover of the menu, posing as the local rag. Sudoku anyone?

Being seafood, we were served our dishes in rather quick succession. That's the name of the game really. This is how we rolled:
'Scuse fingers: South Australian mussels in a white wine sauce with fresh peas, parsley and chunks of garlic. The chorizo was an unusual touch but that also quickly disappeared. The dish was demolished in minutes - the bread was a welcome addition to mop up the last of the sauce but we needed more! Speaking of sauce, be prepared for projectile sauce spray (I fell victim to my own clumsiness). I had half a mind to discretely tuck a napkin under my chin..stayin' classy (San Diego).

Can't go past: a must to order (from a bloomin' fish & chip shop) if ever there was one ($19). The old faithful, battered flathead fillets and a serving of thick cut chips. Not quite as good as the truffled triple cooked offering of chips from Charlie & Co, but you know. I was half expecting the package to come in a newspaper cone! The pot of tartare was nice and chunky with gherkin and capers (fab).

Catch of the Day #1: Smoked eel. More salad than main, I thought that the serving size here was extremely meagre (but one measly fillet!). Here's hoping that slither of eel was exceptional. I am glad to note here a perfectly soft boiled egg. Eggs, are the ultimate cooking yard stick.

Catch of the Day #2: The Barramundi. A whopping great fillet, as opposed to the last. Deliciously simple, the fish was beautifully cooked, flaky and soft inside with a crunchy, crispy skin. Boo yah! The tomato sauce had a hint of spice that was very reminiscent of Moroccan flavours. P.S. a little garnish wouldn't have gone astray here!

The best thing about the Fish Shop is that it's not pretending to be something that it's not. It's a pretty basic formula: the freshest fish cooked well and occasionally "well". I like to order dishes that I'm probably not capable of producing myself...and this is one such example. My barramundi was swell thanks very much. But there was a bit to say on the contrary...

Disclaimer: the following may discourage the (future) hoards from calling (we certainly left feeling a bit miffed)...I did warn you!

Catch of the Day #3: SNAPPER failings.
To spare your delicate nerves, I have omitted the images of this dish. This is also a good cover because they were actually as blurred as anything. See, it was on not one but two occasions that M had to send her dish back to the kitchen. We are loathe to do it I tell you, but when you get RAW fish served to you (and you're not eating Japanese) there's something wrong. It's rather embarrassing when the head waiter takes the dish back to the kitchen in a huff, yelling "Bloody HELL!" and shoving the plate towards the head chef (which we presumed because he was the tallest haha). Chef then proceeded to hold the plate very close to his face to get a good look at the incriminating snapper and shook his head in disappointment. Apprentice was now tearing coriander voraciously with renewed nervousness/fright. This sequence of events we were all privy to with the kitchen in plain view.

Where was executive chef Jeremy Strode at a time like this?! We needed him (Cap'n)! Or should I say they needed him. This was not a good night for snapper man. On take 3, the snapper fillet was cut in half, with good reason too - to make damn well sure that fish was done right i.e. done. Lucky! We all breathed a collective sigh of relief. In recompense the meal was on the house, with all that fish in the bin, probably equating to a loss of at least 90 bucks. Dang. Not wanting to get carried away on this wave of criticism (however constructive), the accompanying tomato based sauce with a good whack of coriander was great! *smiley face*

A little sweetener at the end:
Presenting the Fish Shop's nostalgic ice cream 'wich: reminded me very much of a violet crumble in ice cream form. YUM! Now I know why restaurant critics go for lunch service, it's not so dark! Even with forced flash, bells and whistles etc I am still struggling ;)

I managed to swing a few bites of the above but I ordered a serve of the day's ices - coconut sorbet, to be exact. It was so so good, the flavour was bang on i.e. bona fide. This is all positive reinforcement for me to buy an ice cream maker...One. Day. Friends. One. Day. And one day I will also be the size of a house! So all in all it was a bit of a mixed bag: smashing fush & chups (in true Kiwi style), a chef having an off day and a little ice cream to make it all better. I'm okay with that.

Thanks for reading! x
The Fish Shop on Urbanspoon


  1. Ouch ahaha I just find it ironic that they can't cook fish when the restaurant is called the fish shop! The burramundi sure looks appetising though!

  2. this is a lovely review! it makes me want to run out and visit one of my favorite seafood restaurants right now...

    x thymely

    1. Thanks! I appreciate that. Rolling towards our Australian summer, seafood + the beach is definitely the way to go!

  3. Can never go past good ol' fish and chips, and lol, yes lunch meals are always easier to photograph, especially at fancy restaurants with mood lighting!

  4. This restaurant looks and sounds delicious! xx

  5. great post. that fish and chips looks pretty good to me. nice looking crispy batter.



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