Friday, March 7, 2014

Two faces of Fish Face Double Bay

In Sydney dining, the only constant is change. After many years in Darlinghurst, Fish Face has spawned two new versions of itself: a rebirth of the fish-centric restaurant in Double Bay and a fish-and-chippery in the former Darlinghurst restaurant.

Owner and chef Steve Hodges has recruited chef Joshua Niland (ex Grain and The Woods) as head chef at the Double Bay restaurant, which itself comprises two separate offerings. Fish Face Double Bay is the more casual, fish cafe-style venue in the front, while Fish Face Dining in the back is the higher-end restaurant offering.

Sushi and sashimi plate from Fish Face Double , New South Head Road, Double Bay
Sat at the front end one Sunday lunch, it was a choice between small high tables or counter seats facing the footpath, with the former seating a maximum of four diners and just fitting four main meals with one side dish (the dining setup in the back is normal, low seats and tables).

To start we shared a sushi and sashimi platter as an entrée. Slices of tuna, salmon and I think, kingfish and snapper, sashimi (it was served sans explanation) were served atop thinly sliced pickled cucumber, along with five petite nigiri sushi pieces.

Crisp skin cobia, radicchio, currants, fried polenta cake
With fish-appropriate Asahi beers and a dry riesling accompanying our meals, we moved straight into mains, with eyes only for the fish items.

Cobia isn't a fish I see on many menus around town and at Fish Face, it was served interestingly, if not unusually, as three slices with crisp polenta chips and radicchio cooked with raisins for a bittersweet-ness.

Blue eye trevalla on potato scales, fresh ricotta, grilled kale
My pan-fried blue eye trevalla was a generous fillet of the firm, white fish, topped with a thin layer of crisp, golden potato slice "scales" in yet another a sophisticated, innovative version of fish and chips.

Completely surprising as a match, the house-made ricotta was a creamy, textural delight while the kale brought super-veg to the plate.

Battered black flathead, hand cut chips, malt pickles, tartare
The must-order and barometer of any decent fish joint probably has to be the fish and chips, even though we weren't at Fish Face's dedicated fish and chip restaurant.

On offer was the perennial favourite of flathead tail fillets, lovely and boneless in a crisp and airy, dark-fried beer batter. With house-made tartare sauce and cucumber pickles on the side, it was a complete dish with excellent hand-cut, skin-on, thick potato chips served in a paper cone.

 Leaf salad
The side order of a leafy green salad was for the benefit of the fish and chip eaters, with butter and iceberg lettuce nicely dressed and garnished with fresh chives, parsley and dill.

They're decent sized mains, no doubt, but the small tables and high seats certainly change the dining feeling into something quite casual, despite the prices hovering towards the $40 mark for mains.

Crème brûlée, nutmeg biscuits
Nonetheless, it was made into a full three-course meal with a shared dessert of classic crème brûlée, presented in a ramekin with a fabulously burnished toffee top.

The short, buttery nutmeg biscuits served atop would have made for nice coffee partners, although they were just as good with the vanilla-scented custard in the pot.

Fish Face frontage
It's early days for Fish Face in Double Bay, with the back restaurant launching most recently while the casual front has probably just shaken off its new-ness. With two faces on the go in the one space, Fish Face should be making double the waves in Double Bay.

Fish Face on Urbanspoon


gaby @ lateraleating said...

I hadn't heard about cobia either. That dish looks super interesting. I agree, for $40 mains one would expect fancier sitting.

Carl Joe Wright said...

Dishes served at Double Bay seems tasty and cool. I never taste some of its menu like pan-fried blue eye trevalla,, Hope this menus are also served in restaurants and hotels in Kiama.

Tina said...

Hi gaby - Yeah, I guess the new restaurant just wasn't quite what I was expecting, prices aside.


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