Wow, two posts in recent weeks – maybe 2016 will be The Year My Blog Unbroke.
On the first Saturday of the new year, our dear expat Hong Kong friends had one dinner left in Sydney – which naturally had to involve Hubby et moi (and cocktails). We headed to Potts Point, thinking most things would be open and there’d be options if our first choices were full. We were sullenly informed by the bored door hipster at The Apollo that they probably wouldn’t have a table free until 10:30pm. Yeah… nah – also you work in doorway; you can lose the attitude, mate. Front-of-house fail. By contrast, at our next stop, Cho Cho San, we were met with a politely apologetic “We’re fully booked all night, I’m so sorry guys” – to which I say thank you and see you next time, nice Cho Cho San lady!
Continuing around the corner into Challis Avenue we split up and joined two short queues – and it turned out my venue could seat us the fastest. It was The Fish Shop, another Merivale winner headed by Jeremy Strode, whose old Bistrode and current Bistrode CBD I have loved.
We waited for about 10 minutes happily at the bar with special $10 margaritas and a Bloody Caeser (containing something exciting called “clamato” juice, plus an actual clam). The décor reminds me of the beachy vibes at The Bach Eatery, but with more nautical whimsy and without the Kiwi touch. The food is simple, fresh, and of course fish-heavy. Menu below:
We started with a dozen Sydney rock oysters which sensibly came only with a token pot of mignonette dressing and some lemon. And I was very happy to see a Loire Valley muscadet on the wine menu. Crispy, acidic and slightly salty – you couldn’t pick a better oyster wine (apart from picpoule de pinet).
We also shared a bowl of stubby, clearly hand-cut, and well-salted chips (we were each two cocktails in by then, plus wine, so grease was good) and the softest curls of cuttlefish swimming in a garlicky and chili-spiked vinaigrette, which we discovered was most excellent for dipping the chips into. Mmmmm. All the tasty oils.
Three of the four mains were a roaring success; the other (barramundi with sour curry) was unfortunately described incorrectly by our (otherwise awesome) waiter, and turned out to be not what was expected, and not super amazing. But the other three dishes were perfect: the boys had the poached snapper and the catch of the day – can’t remember the fish but it was a fillet in a simple lemon cream sauce with pippies. Now I think about it, I had a whole-fish version of this at Bistrode CBD with rainbow trout. Jeremy is on to a good thing!
I had a supremely lovely risotto with sweetly succulent Balmain bugs and nicely al dente asparagus and courgette flowers. The watercress garnish was also very pleasing. A shared side of tabbouleh made with quinoa (of course) rather than bulghur wheat and with added feta was terrific. On the whole the portions could’ve been a tad larger for the prices, but the prices weren’t unexpected for the postcode, nor were they exorbitant.
I enjoyed a very retro rhubarb ripple ice-cream sandwich with salted caramel sauce (very salty – may not be to everyone’s taste and was not printed on le menu) and a glass of Chandon NV, and the boys finished with Negronis because holidays. The service had been attentive and friendly and the general vibe of the place was fun. The signage on the loos was “Gulls” and “Buoys”, which amused me no end after two margaritas Ahoy me hearties, etc. Go sink your anchor at the Fish Shop.