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Charcoal Fish

  • Restaurants
  • Rose Bay
The fish bun from Charcoal Fish
Photograph: Nigel Kippers/Time Out
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Time Out Says

One of Sydney's greatest culinary visionaries has reinvented the charcoal chook joint for a zero-waste age

It's 2021, and the fish and chip shop is not what it used to be. From Bondi's cool-casual Fish Shop, to Sydney's wunderkind of fish cookery Josh Niland's take on the favourite at Saint Peter and the more low-key Fish Butchery, the beachside classic has undergone a revamp in recent years. 

Adding to that line-up is another newbie from Josh Niland and wife, Julie, that riffs on both the old-school fish and chippery and a classic charcoal chook joint (minus the poultry) in their new Rose Bay digs. Charcoal Fish draws inspiration from wholesome family meals and the low-fi comfort food for a taste of nostalgia with an experimental gourmet twist.

"Our mission is to make restaurant-quality, charcoal-grilled Australian fish accessible to everyone. We have taken away all the hesitancy associated with a fish meal – fishy smells and pin bones are a thing of the past," said the Nilands in a statement. "There has never been a simpler way to get fish on your dinner table (or beach towel)."

Just don't expect the pick and mix of varieties you'd get at an ordinary fish and chip shop: at Charcoal Fish, the Nilands are only serving two kinds of fish: a sustainably farmed Murray cod by Aquna sourced from Griffith in western NSW, which is aged for a week before preparing, and a line-caught yellow tuna which is the hero of Charcoal Fish's 'cheese burger'. 

So, why is Murray cod the star of Charcoal Fish's menu? According to the Nilands, it was picked for its sweet flesh and ability to travel well. But just because the proteins are streamlined, doesn't mean the menu is unambitious. In classic Niland style, the zero-waste pioneer has found a use for almost every part of the cod (Niland is yet to find a way to use the gills and gallbladder, but he's working on finding a place for those scraps too), from using the bones to make a classic gravy, treating the skin like pork crackling, and spiting the offal away to the Fish Butchery in Paddington. Niland uses cuts of tuna that are usually discarded, from the head and tail, which are robust enough to be minced into a patty.

Ordering has the feel of a chicken shop: order charcoal-grilled cod fillets in quarter, half or whole portions as the main offering; as well as pickled cod in bread rolls. You'll also be able to get fish collars with tamarind hot sauce; seasonal salads; charcoal-grilled vegetables; and even a Murray-cod-fat caramel ice-cream made with rendered fish fat. Niland has also teamed up with fellow zero-waste crusader, mixologist Matt Whiley from Re-, who has created some custom cocktails using, you guessed it, fish off-cuts, although you'd never be able to tell from the flavour. 

Written by
Divya Venkataraman

Details

Address:
670 New South Head Road
Rose Bay
Sydney
2029
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