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Here’s a catch. Sydney and fish go together like piping hot chips and a piece of freshly fried fish. It’s worth leaving the beaten track of the Sydney Fish Markets to the tourists and trying some local favorites.
From the get-go, the essential thing is proper fish and chips — and licking your vinegary fingers while ignoring any illusions of being on a diet.
Yes, its roots might lie in industrial Britain but Sydney’s taken the paper-wrapped stalwart and run with it.
Doyle’s on the Beach
It’s not an imaginative inclusion on the list but the setting is just too good to miss. Boats bobbing against a backdrop of Sydney’ skyline, the sweeping arc of sand in front.
Doyle’s is steeped in tradition and, as in the good ol’ days, they don’t like you leaving hungry. Finish your enormous portion and you can claim a free extra piece of fried fish — a throwback to when Doyle’s started serving back in 1885.
But first you’d have to prey on something like the battered Ulladulla flathead fillets and chips ($38.90), which comes with Alice Doyle’s chili plum sauce. The batter’s light and perky and it’s a fail-safe crowd-pleaser -– if it’s combined with the view and a perfect sunny Sydney day.
Doyle’s on the Beach, 11 Marine Parade, Watson’s Bay, Monday – Friday noon-3 p.m., 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Saturday – Sunday noon-4 p.m., 5.30 p.m.-9 p.m., +61 (0)2 9337 2007
The love child of a traditional, eat-out-of-newspaper street food and Sydney’s sophisticated dining scene, this Darlinghurst spot has garnered many an accolade. You’ll find only brilliantly fresh fish and seafood here, whilst the tiny eatery’s philosophy of serving only home-filleted, dry-filleted fish and handmade chips draws in discerning diners day after day.
The beer-battered flathead and chips with lemon and tartar ($35) is an upmarket take on a traditional meal. The batter is made with Victoria Bitter, which creates a crispy crunch. The chips are worth writing home about — the golden Sebago potato skins are left on for an earthy flavour. The whole shebang is served in a specially designed, show-stopping cone contraption.
A lower calorie but equally popular choice is the blue-eye Trevalla on potato scales — it’s fish and chips, just not as you’d imagine.
Fish Face, 132 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst, Tuesday – Saturday 6 p.m.-10 p.m., Sunday noon-9 p.m., +61 (0)2 9332 4803
An oldie, but a goodie. This Surry Hills bolthole is nothing flashy, but what it lacks in hip interior design, it more than makes up for in great takes on classics and a no-nonsense, wholesome approach.
Perch on a bar stool, watch the punters heading to the Shakespeare pub opposite and try a panfried Rockling, asparagus, chips and hollandaise ($22) for a twist on your average fish and chips. It’s sparkling fresh, the homemade tartar is toothsomely chunky and the rich hollandaise counts out any health benefits you may have hoped came from not having the battered option.
It’s great value and the portion is nothing to be sniffed at.
There are also squid, scallops, whitebait and fish cakes to choose from and a constant stream of both take away and eat-in clientele goes to show this 20-odd years-old corner chippy is anything but a flash in the frying pan.
Mohr Fish, 202 Devonshire St., Surry Hills, Monday – Friday 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Saturday – Sunday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., +61 (0)2 9318 1326
There are three fish and chip shops on Percival Road in Stanmore, but Codfather sticks out like a sore fish finger with its hip, young approach. Yes, you can find fish and chips here, but there are a host of rather more interesting offerings, too –- such as a palate cleanser of iced pineapple snow with carrot tapioca.
It will leave you ready for a market fish (flathead) in yeast batter with chunky chips, lemon, aioli and smoked soy ($26), which is a play on the classic. Made with fresh yeast, the batter is almost tempura-like and flecked with chili. The aioli is made with smoked paper bark tree oil, giving it an earthy, truffle-esque flavour, whilst the chips are a bit of a show-off, large cheeks of potato dotted with holes to add crunch.
It’s more than we bargained for from the humble dish and this family-friendly joint is worth a try.
Codfather, 83 Percival Road, Stanmore, Tuesday – Saturday 5.30 p.m.-9 p.m., Sunday noon-3 p.m., +61 (0)2 9568 3355
Love.Fish does exactly what it sets out to do -– it puts sustainable, fresh fish on a pedestal. It’s no secret that the industry is beset with over-fishing and endangered species warnings, so head to Rozelle to eat with a crystal clear conscience — and in a chic, sleek setting.
The menu is dependent on what the top eco supplier can source, so it’s not all the usual suspects — Trumpeter and Latchet feature, for example. Such fresh, carefully sourced fish needs no place to hide and the beer-battered eastern school Whiting ($17) with twice-cooked hand-cut Sebago chips ($7) is cooked in healthy rice bran oil and served simply, letting the sweet, mild flesh speak for itself inside the puffy batter.
The exhaustive list of imaginative sides is coeliac-friendly and makes a welcome change, whilst the option to order fish only is ideal for the waistline-watchers.
Love.Fish, 580 Darling St., Rozelle, Monday – Friday 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Saturday – Sunday noon-3 p.m., 5 p.m.-10 p.m., +61 (0)2 9818 7777