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There’s something fishy going on in Canberra…

By 8 August 2014 25

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As a kid, fish and chips were always a family favourite once a fortnight for a dinner treat or whilst on a picnic with friends. I grew up about five minutes away from the beach so there were about 10 different fish and chips shops that we could pick from.

In the almost four years I’ve been in Canberra I’ve had a near-constant craving for fish and chips. All that salty, battery, deep fried, lemony goodness. Absolutely terrible for your arteries but your tastebuds love it. Canberra is severely lacking in fish and chips shops! The only one I know of is just across the border in Queanbeyan at the little Karabar mall. From the few times I went there, everything was great except their fish. It was kind of floury and over battered. I have been told that there used to be a couple of places out Belconnen and Tuggeranong way but have inconsistent trading hours.

In the lead up to penning this piece, I asked a few Canberra-based friends if they had noticed the lack of fish and chips in the Capital and it seems I am not alone. Most people I spoke to had an immediate reaction of sheer disappointment that this deep fried deliciousness wasn’t really a ‘thing’ in Canberra. I assumed that perhaps this is because fish and chips are a ‘coastal’ food, but some of the people I spoke to were from country New South Wales and western parts of Sydney and they had a handful of fish and chips shops there.

I’ve always thought that if you opened up a little fish and chip takeaway store down at Lake Burley Griffin, possibly near Waters Edge restaurant, (I know there is a small takeaway shop down near the bike hire but from what I can remember they only do burgers) it would make an absolute killing in summer and on the evenings of public events like SkyFire. You could add on a little gelato bar and you’re set. There are not many options for food when you are down at the lake for a bike ride or walking your dog so I think a new addition of fish and chips would go well. However, in the middle of winter on an icy-cold Canberra night I don’t think customers would be fighting each other to get down to the lake for a piece of barramundi, so business might lag some months of the year.

So where are all the fish and chips shops hiding? Do they exist? Or do Canberrans not share the same love of potato scallops and calamari and chips with chicken salt that I do?

If there is an amazing fish and chip shop tucked away in an obscure suburb I would love to know about it.

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25 Responses to There’s something fishy going on in Canberra…
#1
James McMahon9:46 am, 08 Aug 14

The best was Flatheads at O’Connor shops. However they were squeezed out by new landlord – The Duxton. Shame really. Although The Duxton serves up a coopers pale ale battered fish and chips that I really rate. You also have the Fishshack in the city, which has a great chowder (when on the specials). Peppered prawn Woden – mixed reviews. If still around? Theos at Charnwood shops.

#2
b210:26 am, 08 Aug 14

Agree with James, Flatheads was by far the best.
Dickson Seafoods is not bad. Lyneham takeaway is no good (and close at 1pm on Saturday?!). Everyone raves about Watson Takeaway, but I’m not convinced.The fresh fish place in the Canberra Centre and one of the ones at Fyshwick markets do a pretty roaring trade over lunch and the fish is good! The Fish Shack in the city is pretty good, nice variation of the different coatings (beer battered, tempura battered, crumbed etc).

#3
Mess10:46 am, 08 Aug 14

Most local shopping centres have a fish and chip shop and Fish Shack in the city is also very good, and not far from your Braddon bubble.

Failing that making your own beer batter is dead easy and you can knock up your own fish and chips in the same time it will take to drive to the shops and back.

#4
Milo1110:56 am, 08 Aug 14

Steves at Melba shops go alright, or atleast they did when I lived around there.

#5
HardBallGets11:11 am, 08 Aug 14

James knows. Flatheads was the best.

It’s been a while, but Naked Fish in Mawson has always been pretty good.

A decent chippie offers a range of fresh fish options. The only time I got fish and chips from my local, I asked what kinds of fish they had. They said “battered, crumbed, grilled”.

An old thread might be useful reading. Not sure how current the advice is.
http://the-riotact.com/best-fish-and-chips-updated-can-anyone-compete-with-bernie/52388

#6
Alexandra Craig11:14 am, 08 Aug 14

James McMahon said :

The best was Flatheads at O’Connor shops. However they were squeezed out by new landlord – The Duxton. Shame really. Although The Duxton serves up a coopers pale ale battered fish and chips that I really rate. You also have the Fishshack in the city, which has a great chowder (when on the specials). Peppered prawn Woden – mixed reviews. If still around? Theos at Charnwood shops.

Mess said :

Most local shopping centres have a fish and chip shop and Fish Shack in the city is also very good, and not far from your Braddon bubble.

Failing that making your own beer batter is dead easy and you can knock up your own fish and chips in the same time it will take to drive to the shops and back.

Ooooo I’ve never heard of this Fishshack place – I’m in the city a fair bit too. I will have to investigate.

I’m not the best cook unfortunately. I get really flustered and panicked at even the most basic dishes – therefore I am a perfect contestant for Masterchef!

#7
Casiola11:42 am, 08 Aug 14

Milo11 said :

Steves at Melba shops go alright, or atleast they did when I lived around there.

Steve’s is the place to go. Sadly he told me this will be his last year after 21 years at Melba as he is retiring. Get in there before it’s gone.

#8
Casiola11:45 am, 08 Aug 14

James McMahon said :

The best was Flatheads at O’Connor shops. However they were squeezed out by new landlord – The Duxton. Shame really. Although The Duxton serves up a coopers pale ale battered fish and chips that I really rate. You also have the Fishshack in the city, which has a great chowder (when on the specials). Peppered prawn Woden – mixed reviews. If still around? Theos at Charnwood shops.

Flatheads was terrible and Theo’s changed to “Bernie’s from the Bay” a long time ago.

Bernie’s used to have the famous “best chips in Canberra” as they used to be hand cut, Mark Parton carried on about them for a while. Now they are just frozen chips and not worth mentioning. Their fish is average at best at their South Coast and Charnwood stores too.

#9
Grail11:51 am, 08 Aug 14

There’s a “traditional” takeaway shop at Isabella Plains: fish & chips, pizza and all the glass bay-marie and stainless steel extractor hood goodness you remember from your youth. We’re a little further away from the beach than the paradise of your youth though :)

#10
Madam Cholet12:18 pm, 08 Aug 14

the best that I know of is the one at Fyshwick markets which also sells the fresh fish. The one at the lake in the Southern Cross club complex is woeful, but it’s a nice spot so you tend to subject yourself to it once a year.

We have a place 3 hours down the coast and you can’t even get good fish and chips there. I grew up in the UK so am keen on good fish and chips. There’s definitely room in the Canberra market if anyone is thinking of it.

#11
JessP1:13 pm, 08 Aug 14

Evatt Fish and Chips is great! Do a nice pizza too!

#12
Holden Caulfield1:57 pm, 08 Aug 14

The issue with fish’n’chips in Canberra seems to be consistency.

Flatheads WAS very good, but the quality went south way before any pressure (real or otherwise) came from Duxton.

Similarly, I’ve raved about the Fish Shack on these pages in the past but the last two times I went (around 9 months ago at a guess) the standard was well below what I had come to expect. Which is a shame because they were usually very good.

Another option, which can be okay and does provide a nice Canberra experience is the fish’n’chip shop at the Canberra Yacht Club in Yarralumla. During the summer months/daylight savings they open up the side of their kitchen, sort of facing the car park, and you order your food and can then dine on the grass area in front of the lake. It can be a very pleasant way to spend the evening.

#13
Holden Caulfield2:00 pm, 08 Aug 14

Madam Cholet said :

the best that I know of is the one at Fyshwick markets which also sells the fresh fish. The one at the lake in the Southern Cross club complex is woeful, but it’s a nice spot so you tend to subject yourself to it once a year.

Fyshwick Markets is pretty good, I agree.

Although, based on local competition I would say the Yacht Club is far from woeful. Perhaps in Adelaide, for example, where great fish’n’chips is pretty easy to come by woeful might be an apt description, but not in Canberra, haha.

#14
astrojax2:46 pm, 08 Aug 14

watson takeaway, b2′s comment notwithstanding, is pretty consistent and do a pretty good trade. good chips. and you can buy beer there.

#15
excession3:06 pm, 08 Aug 14

Torrens Fish and Chip shop. Excellent hamburgers, pretty nice pizza, and consistent fish and chips.

We have tried Fisher fish and chips and they’re terrible. Same with Chifley Fish and Chips, yuk! Torrens comes through tops each time.

Since you’re looking northside, I guess that’s your bad luck :)

Anyone in Woden area, should at least give Torrens Fish and Chips a go one night. They are open Tuesday to Sunday, they stop taking orders about 7pm during the week, and 8pm on the weekends.

#16
Ben_Dover3:45 pm, 08 Aug 14

I’m a Pom too, so I know good fish and chips, and every Friday I have a fish and chip supper, it’s a treat.

If I’m home, I’ll go to Hawker chippy, which does big tasty slabs of (unnamed) fish, and possibly the best chips in Canberra.

If I’m in work on a Friday evening shift however, there’s a problem.

I could use the chippy in Hughes, they do great chips, but their fish is a bit suspect, being of unnamed species, and very regular fillets.

I could go to Naked Fish in Mawson, which does great fish, usually a choice of at least 8 species. But their chips are crinkle cut frozen rubbish.

I could go to the Lyons chippy, which usually has 2 or 3 types of fish on offer, but not great chips, (frozen muck again,) they can be wonderful, but more often are mediocre.

No chippy in Canberra does mushy peas which is pure heresy. Fish and chips without mushy peas is like talking a bath with your socks on.

So I have a cunning plan. The next time I%u2019m on a Friday evening shift, I’ll call into Naked Fish, order, (for example,) a double portion of battered Barramundi. Drive like hell over to Hughes, and grab a ‘minimum chips’. Then drive back to Mawson, get my fish, drive back to the office, warm some of my home made mushy peas in the microwave, stink the place out, and enjoy.

And that lades and gentlemen, is what is widely known as a ‘first world problem’.

Solved.

#17
Mess5:25 pm, 08 Aug 14

Madam Cholet said :

the best that I know of is the one at Fyshwick markets which also sells the fresh fish. The one at the lake in the Southern Cross club complex is woeful, but it’s a nice spot so you tend to subject yourself to it once a year.

We have a place 3 hours down the coast and you can’t even get good fish and chips there. I grew up in the UK so am keen on good fish and chips. There’s definitely room in the Canberra market if anyone is thinking of it.

You can get great Fish and Chips in Narooma. The Quarterdeck is great, and there are a couple of good fresh seafood shops if you want to cook your own.

#18
wildturkeycanoe7:01 pm, 08 Aug 14

I’d like to “chip-in” if I may and recommend our local in Holt shops [aka Kippax center], Mama Ria Take Away. They do fish 3 different ways and their chips are awesome too, wrapped in paper as it is supposed to be. Their crumbed fish the other week was delish and the burgers are more than satisfying.

#19
house_husband7:41 pm, 08 Aug 14

Bernies at Charnwood is still pretty good and worth a try.

I’m another ex-Queenslander spoilt by good quality cheap seafood as a kid but for me Bernies comes closest in Canberra.

#20
Weatherman9:20 am, 09 Aug 14

There is a take away fish and chips shop in Ngunnawal (Platypus shops) which is quite good. I think if you really want good fish and chips, you need to travel to Victoria and other places. Fish and chipperies are more of an institution in Victoria.

#21
Alexandra Craig5:15 pm, 09 Aug 14

Thank you for all the great suggestions, everyone!!! This is brilliant. Perhaps now we need to get a RiotACT article up – Best Fish and Chips in Canberra?

#22
astrojax8:19 pm, 09 Aug 14

Alexandra Craig said :

Perhaps now we need to get a RiotACT article up – Best Fish and Chips in Canberra?

isn’t this it?

#23
Weaselburger2:00 pm, 10 Aug 14

The takeaway shop at Watson is really good and it’s not far from the city. lots of pizza and burgers and the like, but they’ve also got big fillets of snapper and other fish as well.

#24
Grin7:00 am, 11 Aug 14

“Sadly he told me this will be his last year after 21 years at Melba as he is retiring. Get in there before it’s gone.”

He and his family has worked hard and long and they deserve the break. To retire I assume he would sell it. Hope the new owners know what they are doing. It’s been a while since we had a chat.

#25
Alexandra Craig12:03 pm, 11 Aug 14

astrojax said :

Alexandra Craig said :

Perhaps now we need to get a RiotACT article up – Best Fish and Chips in Canberra?

isn’t this it?

Kind of – I meant like a proper food review comparing two places and marking them out of 10 or something :)

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