Keeping a restaurant at the top of its game takes a combination of great food, an engaging atmosphere and excellent staff. To keep a high profile it has to constantly adjust these key ingredients, and in Sydney’s ever-evolving dining landscape, keeping the balance just right is a tricky business. It’s no mean feat to be popular with diners for even a short period of time, so what does it take to maintain that popularity for a whole decade?
“I think we’ve really stuck to what we’ve always believed in,” says Stephen Seckold, executive chef of Sydney’s Flying Fish Restaurant & Bar, which will celebrate its first decade this August.
At the end of Jones Bay Wharf in Pyrmont, balanced right on the edge of one of Sydney Harbour’s picture-perfect views, Seckold says that at Flying Fish, “we haven’t gone out of our way to move with or follow certain trends.”
Seckold joined the team when it opened in 2004. He left to spend time overseas – including opening Flying Fish Fiji – but returned to take the reigns in 2011. To mark the huge milestone, the team is hosting a month-long nostalgia menu featuring dishes from the restaurant’s past – such as Peter Kuruvita’s original snapper curry from 2004, to a dessert served in a flowerpot that mimics earth and cigarette butts – as well as hosting some one-off dinners that highlight where the restaurant is today.
“We haven’t taken any big leaps and bounds to try to revolutionise Sydney dining,” says Seckold, “but we haven’t stagnated, we’ve kept ourselves interested.” Couple that with a passionate kitchen and floor team and the results speak for themselves. “We pay attention to making the menu about us, because if the chefs aren’t really proud, excited and happy about what they are cooking, then it’s not going to translate to the table well.”
“We’re lucky, it’s one of those restaurants that stands the test of time. It’s not a white-wall kind of restaurant, and I guess being on a maritime wharf means it’s got a bit of heritage-listed charm and can be knocked around a little bit and still look like it’s supposed to look.”
Despite amassing plenty of accolades over the years, Seckold does not take Flying Fish’s long-standing popularity for granted, acknowledging that the gorgeous location also means they are a little off the beaten track.
“I spoke to a couple recently who didn’t know this place existed, they thought it had just opened,” he laughs. “And they’d lived in Sydney their whole lives!” But while planning a truffle dinner, a freestyle dining event (where diners won’t know what’s on the menu until the night) and of course, rifling through the menu archives, how is Seckold feeling about the 10-year celebrations?
“It’s mixed emotions, I guess. I haven’t been running it since day one, so a lot of credit goes to other people, and we decided the birthday celebrations should be about the restaurant”
Flying Fish Restaurant & Bar will be celebrating 10 years right through the month of August, with a weekly changing Nod to Nostalgia menu running along side the seasonal menu. One off dinners A Tasmania Truffle Trip (August 7) and Flying Fish Freestyle (August 31) will also feature.
Flying Fish Restaurant & Bar
Jones Bay Wharf, Lower Deck
19–21 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont
1300 515 878
Tues to Sun noon–2.30pm
Mon to Sat 6pm–10.30pm