Where Melbourne’s Chefs Get Their Fish’n’Chips

Originally published on Broadsheet.

Embla’s Dave Verheul, Maha’s Shane Delia, ex-Marion head chef Natasha Burnett and more share their top fish and chipperies. (One spot even appears on this list twice, so you know it’s a sure bet.)

After the winter we’ve had, Melburnians have never been more ready for summer – whiling away long, lazy days in the sun; cracking into ice-cold tinnies and bottles of pét-nat; and making the most of peak fish’n’chip season.

But ordering fish’n’chips means making some (sometimes contentious) decisions. Regular salt or chicken salt – or both? A squeeze of lemon or a splash of vinegar? Grilled or fried? Flake, rockling, whiting … or something else entirely?

To help you out, we asked some top Melbourne chefs where they get their fish’n’chip fix, as well as what their standard order looks like – and why it’s so good.

Here, you’ll find trusted, old-school chippers and new-school operations. But these chefs were unanimous on two things: fresh fish and crisp batter are absolutely non-negotiable.

Allan Eccles, Gimlet at Cavendish House

“My favourite place for fish’n’chips is Fish by Moonlite on the Great Ocean Road in Anglesea. The menu gets straight to the point and most seafood is sourced down the road in Portland, so their approach is far more sustainable than most.

They also offer really good-quality oysters, mussels and prawns if you don’t feel like going [in] the deep-fried direction. To start, I usually get some fresh Sydney rock oysters, local mussels or Skull Island prawns. Then, it’s hard to look past the fish of the day. It’s usually King George whiting, pink snapper or rock flathead caught from the Victorian coastline – such quality fish. A chopped salad is always great for freshness and crunch, and I can’t have fish’n’chips without a tinnie of lemonade.”

Natasha Burnett, ex-Marion

“My favourite place for fish’n’chips in Victoria is Fish by Moonlite. Not only is it delicious but the drive to Anglesea is beautiful, too. I love it because chef Matt Germanchis makes the crispest batter and always has different fish available. The potato cakes (scallops, as I call them being from Queensland) are amazing and the chopped salad is a nice touch to freshen things up.”

Shane Delia, MahaMaha EastMaha Bar and Layla

“I’m a big fish’n’chip lover, and for me, you can’t go past an old-school chipper. My favourite places are Joe’s Fish’n’Chips in Brunswick West, Hobsons Bay Fish and Chips in Williamstown, and F’nc Fish’n’Chips in Essendon.

I don’t want all the fancy new-school stuff … Just keep it simple, deep-fried and crunchy. I’m after a good slice of flake with a really crunchy batter. No paper-thin, soggy, pale, pre-battered cardboard.

I also order fried dimmies; seafood sticks; potato cakes (made with actual, real potatoes); battered onion and calamari rings … And I get chips that have been defrosted and then fried so that they’re crunchy and gnarly.

I keep the seasonings simple. No lemon, no vinegar – and tomato sauce is for kids. I just go for salt and lots of it. If I’m feeling frisky, I may even get adventurous and ask for chicken salt.”

Sandra Foti, Piccolina Gelateria

“I love Marquis of Lorne. They do an incredible rockling burger with chips. The batter on the fish is phenomenal – light and crispy. The tartare sauce in the burger is house-made and I always ask for some on the side for my chips. Also, whenever the oysters are in season, they’re a must.”

Jessi Singh, Daughter in LawMrs SinghHorn Please, and Mr Brownie

Royal Brighton Yacht Club serves pretty good fish’n’chips, cooked by beloved Melbourne chef Brendan McQueen. Nothing here is frozen! I always start off a meal with the fish burger or pork belly. Eating at the yacht club also comes with the most beautiful sunset view. It’s very popular among families and sailors.”

Dave Verheul, Embla

Pipis Kiosk on the beach in Albert Park is my new favourite place for fish’n’chips. It has the perfect blend of easygoing seaside vibes, simple but delicious food, and a drinks list that’s pretty uncommon that close to the sand. Order the salt-cod croquettes, a dish that can be so, so good when made by a chef who cares.”

Jesse Gerner, Anada and Bomba

Argo Fishop in Fitzroy North is definitely my favourite. It’s just around the corner from my house. They always have a great display of really well-looked-after fish, and you can smash a beer and some oysters as you wait to pick up your fish’n’chips. I always wait to go there to see what’s on display and order what looks great. The panko[-crumbed] prawns are pretty delicious and naughty, and their salads are fantastic.”

Nonglak Maneesuwan, Hochi Mama

“I love going to Pink Flake, which is located in the heart of St Kilda. The great thing about this place is that they use fresh fish, not frozen. The flake and calamari are my favourite things to order there – the flake is battered and fried perfectly.”

Image: Fish by Moonlite, shot by Parker Blain.

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