The team behind the hugely successful Fishbowl takeaway group, which now has more than 20 locations across Australia, has returned to Bondi – where the first Fishbowl opened in 2016 – to open Fish Shop, a seafood and wine bar and elevated fish’n’chipper. It boasts a respected chef in the kitchen; a revolving roster of fish, seafood and vegetable dishes; and a light-filled dining room that spills out into the adjacent park. It also boasts a very Covid-aware and user-friendly app system, which diners use to order and pay, reducing contact with staff.
“Fish Shop is our take on a modern-day fish’n’chip shop,” co-founder Nathan Dalah tells Broadsheet. “We’ve got amazing relationships with our seafood suppliers, and we wanted to give people access to their products, elevated in a way we aren’t able to do at Fishbowl.”
While Fish Shop and Fishbowl – which Dalah founded with Nic Pestalozzi and Casper Ettelson – both offer healthy, fish-forward takeaway options constructed around ingredients sourced from local suppliers, Dalah says the new enterprise is a different kettle of fish entirely.
For starters, Fish Shop’s kitchen is headed by Joel Bennetts (ex-Peppe’s, Three Blue Ducks), who Dalah says was the perfect person to take the modern fish’n’chip shop brief and spin it into something Bondi-friendly.
“Joel’s got a really clean and raw style of cooking. He uses flavours that people know and love, but the way he puts them together, while it looks simple, is deceptively complex,” he says.
Bennetts’ menu ranges from a wide selection of bar snacks loosely inspired by the flavours of the Mediterranean – including smoked fish and gravlax (smoked and cured in-house); grilled Yamba sardines; and anchovy toast – to a selection of market-fresh fish grilled to order and paired with your choice of salad or a vegetable dish.
Fish Shop also does a classic deep-fried fish’n’chips pack with tartare sauce, as well as a fermented chilli-spiked fish burger that Dalah says is destined to become a local icon. Both have been designed – as has the entire menu – to be equally suitable for takeaway and enjoying in-situ.
And while customers can order anything from the menu to take away, Fish Shop’s Boxes to Go are designed especially with ambulatory diners in mind. They include the Lunch Box, which features a choice between hot-smoked trout, salmon gravlax or tuna confit, with any salad, crostini, pickles and labneh. The wine list exclusively profiles natural Australian wines, and the cocktails have been designed with a focus on freshness and lightness.
Though the venue offers 60 seats for dine-in customers, split between inside and outside dining areas, the owners are approaching the newly developed park neighbouring the restaurant as an extension of the venue. All of Fish Shop’s menu items, Dalah says, were created to be spread over a custom-made Fish Shop picnic blanket and enjoyed al fresco.
“We’ve designed the restaurant to really leak out into the park and to make it feel like one big indoor-outdoor venue. It’s both a wine bar and a picnic vibe that we’re going for.”
George Livissianis’s (Cho Cho San, Apollo) breezy fit-out also reflects the classic fish’n’chip-shop theme – reinterpreted for Bondi with warm tones and “beachy vibes”.
Every decision that has led to the formation of Fish Shop, Dalah says, has been made in service of creating an approachable venue that’s as suited to a post-work glass of wine as it is to a big Saturday night out.
“If you’re looking for a perfectly grilled piece of fish paired with some vegetables and salads, all in a beautiful, sun-kissed Bondi location with a really tight wine list and a great range of cocktails, it’s a no-brainer.”
87–89 Glenayr Avenue, Bondi