Be it your traditional beer-battered flake or something with a little more finesse, fish’n’chips is a summer staple. To help narrow down the search, we asked some of WA’s top chefs where they go to get their fill. From the old-school corner local to a bustling small bar, here are their picks.
Sam Winfield, Wines of While
When the owner and head chef of this wine bar has a hankering for a summery seafood meal, his first port of call is a buzzing bar in South Fremantle.
“Madalena’s is a fantastic bar with an expert fish handler, chef Adam Rees, at the helm,” he says.
Leaving the crispy, beer-battered fish and thick-cut chips for the neighbourhood shop, Madalena’s takes a more refined approach to seafood. Think freshly shucked Smoky Bay oysters, grilled Port Lincoln king prawns with miso butter, and an Abrolhos Island amberjack crudo. But, Winfield can’t go past a post-swim serving of grilled fish and frites in the breezy alfresco area.
“[They have] great quality fish, often hapuka or nannygai, with chamomile butter, salad, and shoestring fries. [It’s] incredibly well cooked and, on the weekends, it’s a steal at $40 for two.”
Melissa Palinkas, Young George and Ethos Deli
After a tip-off from her dad, chef Palinkas has been frequenting Mt Pleasant Fish and Chips. The takeaway joint doesn’t look like much from the street, but that’s what she loves about it: “It’s not trying to be anything else.”
“It's in a residential part of the suburb in a small block of shops. There’s no sand and no fancy view,” she says. If you need that, you can get it a few blocks away on the Swan River foreshore, but Palinkas comes for the “awesome” food.
“It offers the usual, old-school ’80s fare of dim sims, scalloped potatoes, crab sticks, battered pineapple and battered sausage, but I always eat the battered squid and chips,” she says. “They do great barramundi and whiting, but I also love the old-school flake and chips.”
The highlight for Palinkas is those chips, which are “always crunchy” and “really good quality” thanks to frequent oil changes.
Chase Weber, The Royal, The Standard and Fleur
Weber, who oversees three venues as executive chef, stands firmly behind the produce at Kailis Brothers. Not only does the Leederville institution supply the seafood for all his kitchens, it’s also his top spot for a quality serving of local fish’n’chips.
With access to any and all kinds of seafood from the adjoining fish market, Kailis pushes its menu outside the bounds of your traditional shop. There’s whole fried Busselton whitebait to snack on, melt-in-your-mouth fish wings, and the option to tailor your serve of fish’n’chips beyond just battered or grilled.
“You can choose from the amazing selection [of fish] that arrives daily ... and the chefs will cook it for you,” says Weber. “Whenever I walk in, I catch up with the crew about what’s come in that day before I get to ordering anything.
“It’s a family run business that has been around for over 90 years in Western Australia so, normally, I just go with their recommendation.”
Julian Bergerhoff, Shelter Brewing Co
Though he and his family live in Busselton, Shelter Brewing Co’s head chef regularly drives the 25 minutes to Dunsborough in pursuit of his favourite fish’n’chips. Clancy’s Fish Pub on Caves Road is what Berg calls “the full package”. (There’s a second location in Fremantle, too.)
“[It’s] great, honest fish’n’chips, and good value, which is great for the family,” he says. “I like the atmosphere. They nearly always have live music, which is great, [and] we love the big grassy area where the kids can run around.”
The Clancy’s menu is a people-pleaser, with classics such as salt and pepper squid and chilli mussels at its core. “It’s nothing fancy, but it hits the spot. [It’s great] for an easy feed, or a quick stop after the beach or a cold pint of beer – Shelter is on tap at Clancy’s too.”
Tony Howell, Cape Lodge
Cape Lodge’s head chef is a regular at The Colour Patch in Augusta. After a day out on the boat, he always stops in at the recently revamped restaurant and bar for some of the local catch.
“The Augusta whiting is locally caught and fresh,” he says. “I serve it at Cape Lodge when I can get it – a little differently mind you – but it’s a great eating fish.”
Adjacent to the Blackwood River inlet, the local favourite serves lightly battered fish and handcut chips with a side salad and water views. “We grab a takeaway fish’n’chips and sit across the road on the grass to watch the dolphins play. The dolphins there make it extra special.”
Amy Hamilton, Liberté
Residing in Albany, Amy Hamilton has an abundance of fresh Southern Ocean seafood at her fingertips. Not surprisingly, that makes it difficult for the Liberté owner and head chef to narrow down her one favourite south-west serve of fish’n’chips. Instead, she has two.
In town, it’s the retro-looking Albany Fish and Chips that gets her vote. “[They] have always had a really consistent, crunchy, flavourful batter. It’s still superbly crunchy once you get home and unwrap it ... if you make it that far.”
The rave-worthy serve is jazzed up with a generous amount of house-made, sweet’n’sour pickled onions from a jar on the counter.
Hamilton’s other must-visit is in a tiny holiday town a little further west.
“Peaceful Bay Fish and Chips has garnered a little cult following in the south-west due to the epic local seafood that they catch,” she says. Working closely with Southern Star Fisheries, the busy fish’n’chip outlet always has the freshest, sustainable, line-caught fish crisping away in the deep fryer. Some days it’s nannygai, others breaksea cod.
“No one visits Peaceful Bay without a stop in at this place,” Hamilton says.