Best fish and chips on south coast NSW Critiquing fish 'n' chips is hardly rocket science: a generous serve of boneless tasty fresh fish served with enough crispy hot chips to have one or two left over to toss to the seagulls ticks all the boxes, doesn't it? However, not long after leaving Canberra at dawn, Dave and I begin to debate other key factors such as cost (we are all on some sort of budget, even on holidays), service (you don't want a bad taste left in your mouth by rude staff) and location (ideally, you want to be near the beach, otherwise you may as well stay in Canberra), and it's only as we approach Nowra that we settle on a ratings algorithm that equally weights our combined scores across four categories: the fish, the chips, the value for money and the overall experience.
With a coast brimming (or should that be breaming?) with so many fish 'n' chip shops, we cannot try them all in 24 hours (our self imposed time frame) and so I've come armed with a short list of seven takeaways, carefully canvassed from a survey on my Facebook site (see, this is a highly scientific survey) along with suggestions from many of you following my request in last week's column. First stop is the self proclaimed "World Famous" Fish 'n'Chips in Owen Street, Huskisson. Various rugby league stars, including NSW State of Origin halfback Mitchell Pearce, have scrawled their endorsements on the walls of this bustling take away, so it's got to be the real deal, doesn't it? We fight for an unshaded table on the busy footpath, where we endure the blazing sun, hopeful its heat might put the finishing touches on our chips, which, although hand made, are a tad underdone. Our battered fillet is tasty enough, but we leave somewhat underwhelmed. "I guess their claim is 'World Famous' and not 'World's Best," muses Dave, still wiping grease from his chin. So, with the first scoop of sorbet still dribbling out of the corner of our mouths, we motor off to Mollymook. After our obligatory body bash between the flags (thankfully, no bronze whalers today), we wander up the Beach Hut Cafe (1/1 Ocean Street). It's been 10 years since my last visit here and in that time, the friendly take away has been transformed into a beachside behemoth. We have to queue for 20 minutes just to place our order and just as long again among the sweaty throngs for our number to be raucously yelled out. Dave doesn't mind his half of the fish, but I must have got the wrong end of the fillet and am first back to the Yowiemobile for another scoop (actually two) of the sorbet. Ulladulla is only five minutes' drive up the road, so, with our togs still wet, we renew our hunger by performing a few tumble turns in the Ulladulla Sea Pool. From readers' suggestions, it was touch and go whether we should visit Tigers Famous Fish Chips (22 Wason Street), the seaside town's longest established takeaway, or Capt 'N' Seafoods in the main drag. However, Dave reveals that Tigers is a family favourite dating back to his childhood and oakley products he is keen to check if it still lives up to its reputation. While it doesn't have a glamorous waterfront location, perched on a hill overlooking the harbour, the shaded seats at Tigers catch the sea breeze, which is just what the doctor ordered after a morning already with too much sun. The fish 'n' chips don't set the world on fire, but they're white oakley sunglasses the best we've had so far, and we both leave convinced Tigers will probably end up somewhere middle of the pack (pun intended, but it's not fish related, so I can get away with it, can't I?). Next stop is the imaginatively named The Fish Shop at Burrill Lake (107 Princes Highway), which was fanatically nominated by more readers than any other takeaway between Nowra and Eden. Judy Richmond, of Ulladulla, claims, not only does it churn out "the best fish 'n' chips on the south coast, but some say in the whole of Australia." Owned by a former fisherman who insists his fish is among the freshest on the coast, this unassuming hole in the wall is located just metres from the busy Prince Highway. However, most people who fork out for a feed here take it across the bridge to Dolphin Point, which is made to order for a summer picnic, with ample tables, grass for the kids to run around on, and crystal clears waters lapping at your feet. Although it's our fourth serve in as many hours, we wolf down both the fish and the moreish chips. Further south in Batemans Bay, everyone's tip was to beat a path to the third generation Innes Family Boatshed (1 Clyde Street) and from the moment Dave and I walk into this bay landmark, we get the feeling it's going to deliver. The walls are plastered with historic photos and the family trawler is proudly tied up out the back. Although there is an over the water deck, complete with table, we take our newspaper wrapped (you don't get that in many places any more) package to the adjoining park. Lightly battered and fried in animal fat for a super crisp finish, the fish hits the spot. There's a bit more squabbling with Dave over the next candidate, the Pickled Octopus Cafe (93D Trafalgar Road) at Tuross Head. Dave reckons because it is actually "a restaurant with a takeaway function" it should be disqualified. However, my argument that the takeaway area is clearly delineated from the remainder of the eatery is enough to have Dave ordering our sixth serve of fish 'n' chips for the day. The friendly waitress brings our order down to the takeaway tables on the lake's edge. It's worth coming here just to soak up the sunsets, let alone the lip smacking fish (a standard two pieces, not one like everywhere else we tried) with a generous side of crunchy chips. With the sun already set, our last planned port of call, Bermagui's Saltwater Cafe, is left until the following day. It's a good thing this pretty seaside village is best known as the location where Billy Connolly filmed The Man Who Sued God,for it's unlikely to be renowned for its fish 'n' chips well, at least, the ones we tried. Despite its decent chips, the torrents of oil pouring off our battered breakfast leaves this otherwise cheery takeaway floundering (sorry, I couldn't resist that one) near the bottom of our list. Motoring back up towards the Clyde Mountain, we approach the quaint riverside Cafe Nelligen, owned by Rick Patman. According to Phill Sledge, of Kaleen, "nothing beats sitting on the wharf, toes dangling in the water and tucking into a serve of Rick's fish 'n' chips". I'm tempted to stop, but Dave insists he needs every minute of the next twohours to finish crunching the numbers on the places we've already visited, so we press on. It's a wise decision, for, with seven serves of fish 'n' chips in less than 24 hours, it turns out I've packed on almost two kilograms. And we'd best not mention my cholesterol levels. The verdict 1. Pickled Octopus Cafe, Tuross Head. Two pieces of scrumptious fish lightly battered using a secret recipe. Served with a smile, crunchy chips and a lakeside location oakley military to die for. At $12.50, it's a clear winner. The whereabouts of the couch, on which Constable Samuel Nelson's body was supposedly placed after he was fatally shot by bushranger John Dunn outside the village's hotel on January 26,1865, had been a mystery to most after it vanished in the second half of last century. However, following a public plea for information, the couch was discovered to be in the collection of the Zantis family, of Goulburn, who bought it at an auction at Collector's Bushranger Hotel last century. The celebrated couch will feature in a red oakley sunglasses display of bushranging memorabilia as part of the family friendly Wild Colonial Day in Collector from 10am on Sunday, January 25, to mark the 150th anniversary of Constable Nelson's murder.
Where on the south coast? Cryptic clue: Nine kilometres from a rocky map of Australia. Last week: Congratulations to Vicki Watson, of Chisholm, who correctly identified last week's photo as the entrance to Currambene Creek and sand bar in Huskisson (Husky) taken from the small park at the corner of Currambene Street and Owen Street. The cryptic clue related to singer Bonnie Tyler's"husky" voice.
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