For the past couple of years, Josh Niland has wanted to open his own restaurant. Having flourished under Steve Hodges at Fish Face and Peter Doyle at Est., the chef has developed his own restaurant concept, Saint Peter. It will open in Paddington in September.
“Two years ago, if you asked me what kind of restaurant I wanted to open, it probably wouldn’t have been a fish-focused restaurant,” he says. “It’s something that I’ve become drawn towards.”
Starting out as an apprentice at Est., Niland left because he “wanted to learn more about how to cook fish”.
Even the name, Saint Peter, is a reference to the patron saint of fishermen. The 34-seater restaurant will be entirely oriented towards seafood, working with fishermen and Tony Wearne, a buyer for Nicholas Seafood, to guarantee responsible and sustainable sourcing. Niland stresses the importance of trust and relationships with intelligent, considerate fishmongers, and is in conversation regarding using otherwise discarded by-catch and skin-damaged seafood.
"The ugly fish are just as delicious," he says. "Anything that's beautiful in the eyes of Tony is beautiful in my eyes."
Whole fish will be processed on-site, allowing the restaurant to use otherwise wasted parts, Niland says.
“We want to champion the whole fish,” he says. “I’ve been infatuated with fish offal for years.”
Fish offal will feature throughout the menu in dishes such as John Dory liver and parsley on toast, which Niland likens to foie gras. He’ll wrap whole vegetables – “no tiny leaves or cresses or flowers or stuff” – with fish scales, and mix fish roe through sauces paired with the fish of the roe’s origin. On weekends, he will run a seafood-focused brunch with oysters, spanner-crab omelettes and sardines on toast.
“I wanted to create a place where people could get great quality fish every night of the week,” he says.
Saint Peter will open at 362 Oxford Street, Paddington in September.