Cod's Gift review

Terry Durack
Sweet and savoury: mini doughnuts filled with rock lobster, tom yum mayonnaise and sweetcorn and lemongrass salt.
Sweet and savoury: mini doughnuts filled with rock lobster, tom yum mayonnaise and sweetcorn and lemongrass salt.  Photo: Wolter Peeters

4 3 Ward Pl Dural, NSW 2158

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Opening hours Daily 11am-late
Features Licensed, Accepts bookings, Bar, Groups
Phone 02 9261 3336

There is a great tradition of truly appalling names for fish and chip restaurants around the world.

Frying Nemo. The Contented Sole. A Salt & Battery. The Codfather. Fish Friar and Chip Monk. Lord of the Fries. New Cod on the Block. All together now, ladies and gents: groan.

And prepare yourself for the latest: a seafood-focused restaurant called Cod's Gift, which is, verily, cod's gift to the urban/rural village of Dural, 36 kilometres northwest of Sydney.

Cod's Gift looks like some luxe high-rollers' club in Monte Carlo.
Cod's Gift looks like some luxe high-rollers' club in Monte Carlo. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Owners Caroline Neill Ryan and Che Vogler opened nearby cafe Wolfe & Co two years ago, which has grown into a hot local favourite.

Tucked away in a sheltered courtyard just off the shopping mall, Cod's Gift looks like a sweet modern bistro with sunny outdoor tables and a charming fish and chip takeaway window.

But inside? Wow. It's like some luxe high rollers' club in Monte Carlo; all rich velvets and dull metallics, with so many deep blue-greens, it's like floating underwater.

Ora king salmon, Tasmanian scallop, kombu cracker, pink ginger, dashi tea and horseradish.
Ora king salmon, Tasmanian scallop, kombu cracker, pink ginger, dashi tea and horseradish.  Photo: Wolter Peeters

There's a cocktail bar, and a deck for music, with some rather ominous-looking speakers on stands. Folks, we're going to have to talk about Dural.

And this is where the name does it a disservice, because former Jamie's Italian chef David Koorey goes way beyond the deep fryer with a menu that runs from oysters with Campari granita, avruga caviar and fennel pollen, to Fremantle octopus with black miso eggplant and fermented kohlrabi.

Yes, he does fish and chips, but this is so not a chippy.

John Dory, carrots, cumin, smoked peas and licorice.
John Dory, carrots, cumin, smoked peas and licorice.  Photo: Wolter Peeters

Chippies don't do gold band snapper with sage crumb and preserved lemon butter or 350-gram dry-aged rib-eye on the bone. Chippies don't do contemporary cocktails and a lively wine list with plenty of biodynamics.

Sashimi ($28.50) is listed under dishes to share, but it's not really big enough, and you don't want to end up fighting over the three pristine Tassie scallops, three furls of velvety Ora king salmon and gnarly crunchy kombu crackers.

Then it's a jump to the left with sweet and savoury doughnuts (three for $22.50), halved and perhaps filled with Queensland spanner crab, creme fraiche, chives and Clamato juice and dusted with a sugar/salt/fennel pollen mix that's as confusing as it is intriguing. It's one of those things where the brain says "weird" but the mouth says "I like it".

Flathead with hand-cut chips, mushy peas, green goddess sauce and lemon.
Flathead with hand-cut chips, mushy peas, green goddess sauce and lemon. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Fish cooking is done with a firm hand, none of that juuuuust-cooked stuff here.

The fish and chips ($27.50) are well-considered, the flathead in a thin, golden coating perched on a kindling pile of straggly, skin-on, well-seasoned chips. Why the cold mushy peas, I'll never know, but there's a tangy, creamy green goddess dressing.

There's also a handsome pan-seared fillet of Bermagui silver dory ($34) teamed with heirloom carrots, (hot) mushy peas and a lovely, sweet carrot puree. Little dollops of licorice gel are there, too; not sure why.

Fizzing: Japanese plum and almond cake, umeshu sorbet and meringue.
Fizzing: Japanese plum and almond cake, umeshu sorbet and meringue.  Photo: Wolter Peeters

Staff are efficient without overly engaging with diners. Dessert – which could be local figs in a carefully composed carpaccio ($16.50) with sharp blue cheese custard, quince granita and a crunchy red wine crisp fizzed up with sherbet powder – are typical of the effort here by the kitchen to go the extra mile and raise the familiar from the banal.

As for the name, it could have been worse – apparently both Sir Codalot and Codswallop were considered. Oh My Cod.

Cod's Gift

Vegetarian Two starters (and doughnuts), and one main only.

Drinks Strong on white varietals from Oz, with some French and NZ; classic and contemporary cocktails.

Go-to dish Sweet and savoury doughnuts, three for $12.

Pro tip Match your fish and chips with a salt and vinegar martini.

Terry Durack is chief restaurant critic for The Sydney Morning Herald and senior reviewer for the Good Food Guide. This rating is based on the Good Food Guide scoring system.

http://www.codsgift.com.au/