Having risen from the former Lotus site in Challis Ave – next door to Fratelli Paradiso, The Fish Shop is a mock-up Cape Cod/Hokianga Harbour (NZ) fish shop with high tables and high stools but not a thought given to customer comfort and YET restaurants wonder why there is no loyalty in today’s Sydney diner. This is definitely not Cape Cod and most definitely no fush and chups wrapped in newspaper here. This is a themed restaurant like we don’t see much in Sydney but popular in the US.
The food is seafood as you’d expect and they serve up some of the classics – potato scallops, fishermans basket and classic battered flathead and chips as well as market fish choices cooked in different ways. We went the gamberetti to share, deep fried small sweet prawns with aioli (very good) – a great start, also a staple at Icebergs at Bondi Beach. For mains, faintheart went for the ocean trout baked in paper which was perfectly done, a little pink and translucent in the middle and flaky on the edges with a gentle flavour of fennel, white wine and lemon. Our friend, who is a vegetarian really knows her fish, and I went for classic fish and chips – the batter was light and crisp – like a tempura batter. The fish was pure white and flaky, but the chunky cut chips were undercooked and a little soggy. A couple of us were bemoaning this trend of always using chunky chips. The desserts – ‘todays’s ices’ and our choice an icecream sandwich – nice touch here was the salted caramel sauce. The caramel sauce got rave revews from our friend who is a lover of caramel sauce. Just a though, icecream in a cone would have suited this place we think?
In some ways the Fish Shop is a trip down memory lane – those distant summer holidays at the beach with lots of updated touches – we wouldn’t have seen celeriac colseslaw (one of the sides) let alone known what it was. The service was patchy – it took too long for my bloody mary to arrive but it was very good. It was a busy night but with all the experience of Merivale, this shouldn’t happen.
The verdict – The Fish Shop delivers what it says – fish and chips, bucket of whole prawns,burgers and a lot more, an experience that’s fun with friends, because the concept has been so carefully structured like all Merivale restaurants. We felt it lacks a realness about the place and there is too much theme park stuff going on, but hey!
No doubt for a while it will be the latest cool Sydney restaurant.
The Fish Shop
22 Challis Ave Potts Point NSW 2011