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Whether you're particularly religious or not, eating fish and chips on Good Friday is as much an Easter tradition as a backyard egg hunt.
The tradition stems from the Roman Catholic custom of not eating meat on Fridays during the period of Lent.
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Battering fish is less trouble than you might think. Adam Liaw shows you how to create a crispy light batter and an indulgent crab tartare sauce to go with it.
Sofia Levin traversed the city and spoke to numerous experts last summer, and these are still some of Melbourne's best picks for fish and chips.
The best have a locally caught catch, good oil, crunch and x-factor, she found. We've updated the opening hours and prices so you'll be all set for Good Friday 2017.
Here are Sofia's top picks, in no particular order:
1. Blu by Australian Seafood (open Good Friday 8am-9.30pm)
Despite the industrial location, no one pulls a fish and chips crowd on a weekday like The Australian Seafood Group, which has a new 170-seater premises on Gaffney Street after out-growing its former home around the corner. Perhaps its success comes down to its reputation for supplying restaurants, or maybe it's the freshness of its meaty gummy flake (now $7.80, up from $6 in 2016), small chips cooked in fresh oil ($5) or the generous, well-drained potato cake ($1.20). Order a lunch pack with all the extras for another dollar.
146 Gaffney Street, Coburg North 03 9350 3200
- See also, Where to eat in Coburg
2. Tommy Ruff (Open on Good Friday; Elsternwick and Mordialloc until 9pm; Windsor until 10pm)
John Stamoulis has been in the business for 30 years. His father had Blue Dolphins Fish Cafe in South Melbourne in 1969 and Stamoulis opened Red Mullet Fishcaf in the past, along with a couple of other shops. But unlike other industry veterans, Stamoulis' Tommy Ruff is far from dated in both menu and fitout. The Aussie Angler Pack ($11.50) comes with the fish of the day – anything from blue grenadier to king or john dory fillets. The chips and potato cake ($1.70) are fried in cottonseed oil in a bank of fryers worth $60,000 – an investment in crunch factor.
Shop 3, 1-3 Carre Street, Elsternwick, 03 9077 8815; also at 574a Main Street, Mordialloc, 03 9580 2525; and 121 Chapel Street, Windsor, 03 9521 7195
3. Theo's Fish Bar (open on Good Friday 11am until about 8pm - or when the seafood runs out)
No longer do coeliacs have to watch enviously as loved ones chomp into fish and chips; family-run Theo's uses only gluten-free batter. It's made from three different flours and two secret ingredients. A variation of it encases the best potato cake of this bunch ($1.50); a huge oval with visible skin with the comforting flavour of hand-cut wedges. Choose from the display of fish (gummy flake $7.50), grab a small (crisp) serve of chips ($3.50) and have a chat with the family, who has been in the fish game for 30 years. Ask also about gluten-free dimmies.
165 Upper Heidelberg Road, Ivanhoe, 03 9497 3541
4. Tank Fish & Chips, Carlton store (open on Good Friday 11am until 9.30pm)
Don't be fooled by the paleness of this beer batter; it's quite possibly Melbourne's best. It's the crunchiest casing of them all but the seasoning, reminiscent of Arnott's Barbecue Shapes, is what will win you over. It's peppered all over the thin, golden chips and flawless potato cake ($1.20), along with a sprinkling of deep-fried parsley. Expect two moist pieces of the fish of the day in the Old School Fish N' Chips pack ($12, usually blue grenadier). Tank also has a store at Emporium in the city centre (but it's not open this Good Friday). Both stores are also beautifully designed, a collection of blue Victorian tiles juxtaposed against neon.
149-151 Lygon Street, Carlton, 03 9040 2124
5. Oakleigh Fish &Chippery (Open on Good Friday until 9pm)
This buzzing corner shop does a roaring takeaway trade well after the lunchtime rush usually dies down. It's held the fort for 32 years and it's now all hands on deck for the third generation of the family. Battered gummy, flounder and blue grenadier are priced at $6.50 and are battered with satisfyingly crisp edges, just oily enough to soften lips. Chips are thick ($4 small) and the potato cake soft in the middle with a crunchy outer ($1.10). It all comes wrapped in mock newspaper so you get the nostalgia without the ink poisoning. Grab a perfumed wet wipe from a table on your way out.
45 Chester Street, Oakleigh, 03 9568 3868
6. Richmond Oysters (open on Good Friday 2017 11am-10pm)
Don't mistake Richmond Oysters for being too fancy in the F&C department; their take-away flake pack with chips ($14 in 2017) and an extra potato cake (still $1) is competitive and less oily than some other options in Richmond. There's also an eat-in option with a calamari ring and salad for $25. It didn't matter that the batter lacked crunch on my particular visit; it's still incredibly delicate and hugs a thick piece of supple, local flake. The 'tater cakes are fluffy and the chips thin and wonderfully seasoned. Extra points for house tartare and a speedy turnaround.
437-443 Church Street, Richmond, 9428 5121
7. The Crispy Catch Fish & Chips (Open on Good Friday until 9pm)
Set in the Mountain Gate Shopping centre on the Burwood Highway, this four-year-old shop is serious about its fish and chips. The classic pack will set you back $8.50 and includes a beautiful piece of gummy fried in rice bran oil – which results in a light, almost brittle batter (a secret recipe with four different flours) –alongside some pretty decent chips. The same praise can be paid to the batter of the oversized potato cake ($1.10). Note: Original owners Anthony Siljanovski and family have set up shop in Ringwood East (shop 2a, 434 Maroondah Highway).
9/854 Burwood Highway, Ferntree Gully, 03 9758 0700
8. Fish Tank (Open on Good Friday until 8.30pm)
The stunning seafood display is the hook at Fish Tank. With everything from fresh Morton Bay bugs to marinated garlic prawns, there's no funky smell despite the open cabinet and all fish is longline caught, locally or from New Zealand. The daily catch pack ($10) might feature blue grenadier or deep sea bream blanketed in brilliant beer batter with flat chips and a tangy tartar dipping sauce. The blistered potato cake ($1.20) actually tastes like potato, perfectly deep fried in clean oil. Best enjoyed with a beer, available on site.
20 Church Street, Brighton, 03 9592 0697, fishtankbrighton.com.au
Photos by Tim Grey