Hooked: The bright and breezy interior. Photo: Justin McManus
"Let the fish be fish,'' says Chris Patinyot, owner of Richmond's Fish Market, where the fish is all from Australian waters and never frozen. It's simply cooked - on the grill with salt and pepper, baked in foil so it steams in its own juices, or deep-fried in a light, crisp batter made from Coopers Sparkling Ale.
It's the first solo enterprise for Patinyot, who has been in the biz for eight years, working with his in-laws as a seafood wholesaler. ''They've invested in three trawlers and we've got access to some really good fish,'' he says.
Peer through the front window and there's a spread on ice - barramundi, rockling, tuna, all of it filleted in house and available to take home.
The Fish Market's classy fish and chips. Photo: Justin McManus
Butcher's paper sports the day's specials - whole baby snapper, salt-and-pepper calamari, tempura soft-shell crab and a generous, juicy cut of foil-wrapped salmon, cooked medium-rare, with a colourful mop of ginger, coriander, carrot and capsicum. The brown rice I ordered with it was pretty dry, but better once the balsamic dressing from the good Greek salad mingled in.
Flathead in its crisp casing is everything you want from a knock-in feed of battered fish, even better with house-made tartare sauce.
But the big question: are the chips hand cut? ''You can do great fish, but people judge you on your potato cakes and chips,'' Patinyot says a little wearily.
It's sad, but true, and regular readers of this column will know my deep-seated love of the hand-cut spud. There are none at the Fish Market, but their chips are crunchy and golden, or there are sweet potato chips if you'd rather, and the oil tastes fresh. For potato cake diehards, these are hand-cut ''by my aunty'', says Patinyot.
The old-fashioned burgers are fantastic. There's no brioche bun, just a lovely seeded white roll, loaded up with a 200-gram beef patty, bacon, beetroot, and homemade mayo and caramelised onion that turned into a drippy extravaganza. Seriously good burgers.
For the fitout, Co-lab architects have done a brilliant job, creating an open 60-seater space that's fresh and welcoming with lemon-yellow trim. ''I'm sick of blue,'' says Patinyot, who wanted to avoid the ''starfish'' look and the ''10-year-old TV Week magazines'' as reading material.
Families rock up for the early shift from 5.30pm, cool couples arrive later on.
''I've got three kids myself,'' Patinyot says. ''I wanted somewhere family friendly.''
The Fish Market fits the bill - it's a nice little local for a casual drop-in, without going into uncharted waters.
Do … bring salad fans here.
Don't … eat gluten? Ninety per cent of the menu is gluten-free.
Dish … Battered flathead and chips.
Vibe … Seafood without the 'tude.
- 03 9428 8574
- Cuisine - Seafood
- Prices - Fish, $7.50-$10.90; burgers, $8.50-$12.50; sweets, $3.
- Features - Licensed, BYO, Gluten-free options
- Owners - Chris Patinyot
- Cards accepted - Cash
- Opening Hours - Tues-Sun, 11am-9pm
- Author - Nina Rousseau