They’re one of the longest standing partnerships in the hospitality industry and as summer stretches its rays over Bondi beach, celebrity chef Matt Moran and business partner Peter Sullivan are set to bring fish and chips back.
“I used to live here. I lived up the road for a few years, and I’ve always loved it,” says Moran as the sun glints off the wide stretch of early afternoon North Bondi Beach. This spot is where all the action is happening, under the North Bondi RSL in the space that until very recently housed North Bondi Italian Food. Now, things are looking a little different. Some walls have been moved, new decking has been laid down and the colours have shifted from patriotic Italian red, white and green towards a cooler blue and white beachside palette. Moran and Sullivan are overseeing the finishing touches and North Bondi Fish has arrived.
And certainly with its exposed balcony and close proximity to the North Bondi rockpool, their latest venture ticks the location box. Moran and Sullivan are enjoying the view from the balcony, a spot that is perfect for watching the waves and the bronzed passers by, but it’s a location that also lends itself to a certain type of food, one that’s complemented by the sultry breeze.
“I’ve always loved the beach and I’ve just always thought seafood, fish and chips and a fish cafe would be great. When this came up and we were in a position to snap it up, there was no question whatever.”
As a result, the menu is tight and all about the fish – think fresh Sydney rock oysters, fish fingers, charcoal-grilled snapper, prawns or salmon and whole fish of the day, not to mention fish burgers and classic beer battered fillets. Moran also installed an Inka grill to add his own flavour to the menu.
“It’s a charcoal grill. I don’t have that at any of the other restaurants,” says Moran. I love to use woods and charcoals, and I was interested in it and I wanted a good point of difference when it came to the food.”
It’s only been 18 months since the duo opened Chiswick in Woollahra, but there’s a nice symmetry to the move from kitchen garden at Chiswick to beachside at North Bondi Fish. “It’s a bit turf to surf,” smiles the chef.
“We’re always looking for good places, but the timing has got to be right. We love what we do and we love opening places. Peter and I have been together for over 20 years and it’s the challenge. There’s no better rush than opening a restaurant or doing a service.”
Sullivan agrees, pointing out that where some people call their continued success luck, he prefers to go with the saying that luck is only opportunity and ability coming together. He also points out that their creative partnership survives because it grew out of mutual professional respect rather than friendship. Happily, the friendship followed afterwards and has supported the whole process, allowing the team to develop and grow over a long period in the notoriously fluctuating hospitality industry.
“We’re always refining the process,” says Sullivan. “You get better at it every time.”
“We get offered lots of opportunities,” says Moran, “And we turn down probably 95 per cent of them. But you have to wait for the right time and location and then you put the effort and the expertise in. We are very conscious of where we go and what we do, and we’re not silly. We don’t have stars in our eyes and we have very grounded people around us. It’s not about fame and fortune, it’s about making the right business decision.”
And as the newspaper wrappings come off, North Bondi Fish looks to be a good business decision indeed, pitched for beachgoers, locals and seafood lovers alike. And just in time for beach season.
North Bondi Fish
120 Ramsgate Avenue, North Bondi Beach
(02) 9130 2155
Tue-Sun noon - late (Mondays coming from 3rd February 2014)