70 Foveaux Street Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Beware the poisson sauvage! There's a whole wall of them in a Surry Hills laneway. Look hard as you head down Foveaux Street and you might spy a series of fanciful repro silver panels painted Warhol-like across one side of a tiny building. They look like sardine cans, with metal rings, and labelled "poisson fume" and "poisson sauvage". Inside the building is the bluntly named Fish Place, where the poisson comes both smoked and wild, as well as fried, grilled, on lunchtime bagels, and generally, pretty damned fresh.
Owners Adam de Launay and his father, Steve, have done their fish thing before - at the cute little Smokehouse in Devonshire Street (now The Devonshire). Two years after moving on, they've moved in here. Out back is Steve's neat, little, red-door smoke house, and out front are his daily fish deliveries from mates up and down the coast and Adam's flair for service.
At first glance, it looks pretty much like the sandwich shop it always was. Squint a little more closely, though, and you'll notice the smoked salmon on your bagel is bright and sweetly smoked, not oily, dull or flabby, and fabulous with cream cheese, dill and a translucent crescent of red onion. It comes in a nifty eco-brown hamburger box, stamped carefully with the name Fish Place.
There's a beer-battered fish-and-chips menu and your grilled blue eye is clean and light, side salads - beetroot, mint and almonds or a walnutty slaw, perhaps - have a gentle sparkle, and a hot-smoked slab of ocean trout is flaky-juicy inside, salty-firm outside and rather terrific on a brilliant green pea mash.
So it's a lunchtime fish, salads and bagels shop and early-evening fish and chipper with only a few obvious choices, a series of salads in metal trays, "chippy cups" for $3.50 and a regular drinks fridge. You can grab a long-neck from the bottle-oh next door and retreat to the little octopus' garden out back; Adam will provide a couple of drinking glasses. It's a tiny courtyard full of quirky found objects, Huon salmon delivery boxes and a gleaming chimney stack for Steve's daily smoke-house sessions.
And that's the Fish Place. Not much more to add except Steve has a great touch with the smoker (years of practice) and Adam an equally apt touch with the shabby-chic styling (hence the cute sardine-tin-inspired mural on the side wall). Pop in for an early dinner. Have the smoked ocean trout on green pea mash. And watch out for the poisson sauvage.
Do ... try the smoked fish, one way or another.
Don't ... expect anything but a decent fishy feed.
Dish ... hot-smoked ocean trout on green pea mash.
Vibe ... sandwich shop with a certain je ne sais quoi.
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