Update October 2015: The Fish House’s list of awards continues to grow:
Second place, 2015 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards for Australia’s Top 10 Restaurants
Chef Hat, 2015 Australian Good Food & Travel Guide
Two Chef Hats, 2016 Brisbane Times Good Food Guide
Best Restaurant, Courier Mail Queensland’s Top 100 Food Experiences
Finalist (Two Wine Glasses), 2015 Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards
It’s a grand occasion to celebrate two events: our friend Chris’ 21st birthday and the completion of the first year of his apprenticeship under the mentorship of Chef Richard Hoy. Great occasions deserve celebration; in this case, a social gathering for a meal marks our congratulations.
Food is a canvas on which memories are painted. A favourite Sunday night roast, two forks into one bowl as a dish is shared with a new love, the exotic aroma of far flung travel, or a celebratory extended family meal…somehow taste and memory become intertwined, to be brought back by the perfume of a fruit or the first bite of a particular dish eaten in another context.
In our interview with Simon Gloftis, owner of Hellenika, early in 2012, he spoke of his plans to open a seafood restaurant in Burleigh Heads overlooking the water. He commented that at Hellenika he tried to entice people to eat seafood, fish being one of his favourite foods due to its clean fresh flavours. It’s those flavours we seek at his new restaurant, The Fish House; a noteworthy meal that exemplifies the best in the trade; a celebratory feast to remember fondly in future years.
Simon had commented that he takes time choosing quality staff, that ‘Beth Clarke is the best possible manager on the Gold Coast’, and he has transferred her across to The Fish House as Restaurant Manager. It’s a chilly night outside but we receive a warm greeting from the staff as we are led past the imposing Enomatic wine dispenser and seated at a long table between the wine cabinet and the fish display. Wine and fish! We feel right at home! Simple and rustic, the restaurant is cosy and comfortable.
The Norfolk pine-framed ocean just beyond the restaurant’s front windows provides the backdrop to the meal, the source from which the best Australian seafood has been plucked.
Just as Chris is led through his food journey by his mentor, we embark on our own journey of discovery with the Chef’s Selection.
In true degustation style, we are led through dishes in a logical progression, beginning with the most delicate flavours as well as the most bold:
- Cured ‘Hiramasa’ kingfish, a sustainably farmed fish from South Australia; Petuna ocean trout from Macquarie Harbour in Tasmania; Pan-fried scallops from Canada – all dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and dill
- Coffin Bay oysters shucked to order.
There is bread to stave off our hunger, accompanied by olive oil and Pepe Saya, the only butter we would see in this meal until the final course.Simple Fish soup follows. Based on a celery stock, its lemony flavours cleanse the palate in preparation for the dishes to co
- Lightly dusted Fried whitebait from Port Phillip Bay, Victoria
- Char-grilled baby squid tentacles
- Dusted flash fried Calamari
This round of dishes comes with a homemade tartare, its piquant richness a treat to accompany the olive-oil fried seafood.
Two courses follow which stood alone:
- Char-grilled swordfish lightly dressed with olive oil and lemon – from NSW
- Black ink orzo with baby zucchini, tomato and squid. This was arguably my favourite dish, the Fellini-sourced orzo/risoni perfectly cooked, the vegetables delicate, the broth complex and inviting – a masterpiece!
This delicate dish leads us into the final cascade of dishes: fish, veal, salad and vegetables; the main course.
- Eagle Ray skate from Eden in NSW; White River milk-fed veal on the bone, Heirloom baby vegetables (zucchini, carrots and beans); Rectangular batons of rich Pommes Anna; Crisp baby lettuce leaves. The skate has been brought to the table prior to being cooked, a momentary encounter before it arrives cooked.
Throughout our meal, we are guided by our French waitress who answers questions about each dish, the source location for each fish, leading us along on our journey without distraction.
Although named as Chef Aaron Smith’s selection, owner Simon Gloftis’ influence is clearly evident – the lack of pretence in the presentation; the generous serving sizes; the light healthy touch with preparation, the style Southern European, leaving the quality of the seafood to speak for itself. Fish is flown up daily from Melbourne suppliers Ocean Made Seafood, the freshest and best available in Australia.
“I want people to be able to taste fish for the first time, with no sauces, no additives, using only simple spices, lemon juice and olive oil,” Simon told Gold Coast Bulletin journalist Chantay Logan.
There’s no dessert included in the Chef’s Selection (although we add it to our celebration). In Eastern terms, it’s a journey of ‘unami’, fresh savoury deliciousness as well as the balanced journey which the degustation at The Fish House affords.