I've been beating myself up for a long while now, but I really think it's time to just embrace the fact that I go utterly and absolutely apeshit over seriously good fish and chips. There are worse things to like (coughcricket). What could be better than spending some quality time with some quality fish? If you ask me, Luca Brasi had it sweet. Fish n Chips: I burn up over the batter, I adore a good grilling, I get into a crinkle over the chips, I get hoarse talking about the sauce. Tetsuya's is all good and well, but when i'm hungry, really hungry, I like my dinner straight up, low brow and damn fine. Fish, the whole fish, and lots beside the fish is heaven for any good pescetarian. Hence, it's a bit of a salty shame that Sydney fish places for all of their new found-multitude are usually (dismal or delicious) a right, raging rip-off...if only there was a phenomenal fish place, not too far away, casual, with amazing fish, green mushy peas, decent chips, fair prices and riot-inducing sauces to dip it all in...
That's the awesome thing about what hippies and yoga addicts call (with a vague starry-eyed, stoned look that makes you smile politely before you cross the road) The Uuuuniverse: unlike my boyfriend, my family, and people who get AVO's taken out against them, it can take a hint! Tatsu is the solution to most of life's problems. Given that he is about to ditch Sydney for a good while now, I am very glad he got Dan, Sara, James and I into The Battery at St Margaret's before he decided to hop on that plane. Unlike most of the establishments in the very near vicinity, the good folks at The Battery have put more thought into their menu and the quality of their food than they have in trying to create a bullshitty It environment that Surry-Hills See-Me types (there are quite a few of you, aren't there) are tripping over in their Choo's trying to be seen at. Thank God. Food before form. In this day and age, can you imagine? It's down right chivalrous of them!
A lovely Red in rotund, heavy, inappropriate glassware makes me quite happy. The glass says make yourself at home and the wine says, yeah, we totally know what we are doing. While i'm mulleting over some simple and alluring menu options, I decide to forgo The Battery Fish Burger. It's a decision I regret in minutes to come. It arrives and, cruelly, is placed in front of James (the lucky bastard). I didn't get a clear shot, envy makes my hands shake, alas!
Queen Sara is having none other than the Royally Roasted Kingfish w baby vegetables. Would you look at that. Perfect Ten. This is the anatomy of a truly wondrous fillet. You can tell this is fresh-as-fresh-can be fish even before you've tried it. When fish is over-cooked or slightly less fresh, the fillet tends to look more wooden/cardboardish, it's solid - like a slab and keeps its shape even when slightly dislodged. Not that you would dislodge a fish, but you know what I mean. Do you? Fresh, slightly underdone fish has gentle shape and a kind of static buoyancy to it. It looks like it would respond easily to touch, the flesh is more flexible and succulent. This was gorgeously done. Effortlessly roasted just the way it should be, flaky, salty flesh beneath golden, crispy skin. The beauty of this was all Jessica Lange: classic, powerful and faultless.
I flounder a lot in daily life. To do this? To wear that? To buy it in two colours? To run over cyclist or let them be? Floundering aint all bad. My whole NZ Flounder w herb butter is a case in edible point. Lovely, mammoth fish, a tangle of fragrant herbs, crispy/luscious skin, delicate bones and crucified lemon - splayed as wide as the sea on my plate. I love whole fish, the bones give much more flavour and an aching tenderness of flesh that is far harder to find in fillets. It was soft, lucid flounder. The salt and butter and herbs and lemon seeped gorgeously into the flesh and saturated it with a warm richness that you usually only get with eating beautiful steak or lamb. The flakes fell so willingly from bone onto fork and then up to mouth.
I'm only starting to realize how often I eat hot chips by looking back at the photos I have taken. Is it still a sometimes food if it's once a week? The Thrice Cooked, oh Me oh My, hand-cut chips: All Hail Caesar. These were Good. Local Taphouse chips are still in at # 1, but these crazy, stubby slabs of crisped potato gained a glorious gobtasticness when paired with any/all of The Battery's cracktastic hand-made sauces. I think I ended up making a plate palate of an intensely creamy tartare and a sauce that was the crazy-wonderful mutated love-child of tomato relish and mustard. Fuck. An infinite range of chipliness awaits you at The Battery, there's aioli, nahm jim (a garlicky, tomatoed, chillied type-thing), chilli jam and house-brand tomato sauce. Get it on your fingers, on your face and in your mouth, and you'll be all the happier for the delicious mess. If good eating were an artist it'd definitely be a Pollock. The Agony...
...And The Ecstacy:
If your knickers aren't already in a knot, they will be now. Peas. Motherfucker. Peas are just ridiculous. How? Why? What! Would somebody please enlighten me on how the humble pea manages to be something of such unbridled, full and raging deliciousness. I have a Pea Thing. Whenever I eat I usually need to Pea. Really Bad.
These Mushy Green Peas will deeply excite the part of you where messy-5-year-old-who-enjoys-mushy-green-things-she-can-play-with meets gourmet 30 something who loves simple, intense vegetabley stuff on the side of her main.
Green! Gumby Green! Soft and mushed and steaming and salted. Little fragments of formed pea still visible in the smooshed pea rubble is heaven as texture. The colour alone was enough to make me swoon. Gorgeous and classic, The Battery is pulling every move in the book on me, but who am I to fight?
The Last Trick in the Book: Exclamation mark as dessert! After all of this buttery, potatoed, salty-fished flavour nothing was more wonderfully welcome than this Pineapple granita type-sweet-fresh-thing with a creamy-cold dollop of rich ice-cream. It was magnificence in Mint. Pristine in Pineapple. Cold and Icy and Creamy and Fresh. Refreshing like going back to Uni after life in the Real World, but so much sweeter!
Well done, Battery! There might be plenty of other fish in the funky seafood-restaurant sea, but you're the biggest fish I have come by in a long, lonely while. Even James agrees:
Simple, Classic, none-too pricey and not up itself? Are we still in Sydney? This place is delightful, takeaway or otherwise.
The Battery happens at 15/425-429 Bourke St, St Margaret's. Ph 9357 3000. Website here.
Such good fish, perky sides and dancing desserts will make for a meal that goes swimmingly. If you're going to sleep with any fishes, please do yourself the final honour of making sure that they're from The Battery's kitchen. Too late for Luca, not too late for you.