Generally, I've been hard pressed to find a standout in the dining options at Barangaroo. My interest in exploring the area has really slowed down as a result. With what's been a staged development, parcels opening piece by piece, each release has brought the precinct down a rung, more than too regularly when I consider my original expectations of the much anticipated dining precinct.
This time, it seems I got lucky. My guests from out of town were interested in a laid-back sit-down over the Christmas break - somewhere accessible by ferry which had a decent promise of quality. Our decision on love.fish played out well. After sending out the website link and various photos for love.fish in our group chat, I later panicked realizing it was booked out, come that afternoon. Naturally, I penned a back-up, yet still hoped for a walk-in. Gutsy, I took the gamble. Walking in, even without my guests at this time who were still to arrive from the ferry, I nabbed a table despite soft crowds, here, there and everywhere. Their eyes open for availability like seagulls in search of fish and chips. Seated for a few minutes whilst the ferry powered in from Balmain, no annoyance by staff was felt, at-least by me, and whilst I was open to happily walk away to my back-up dinner option should they turn me away, staff were more than hospitable and obliging, moreso than I've ever experienced in Sydney.
With the rest of the build at Barangaroo - It's a polished place and not just because it's still so new. Tables are set with interest and care, following well rehearsed lines. It's clean yet relaxed with timber bistro seating overlooking the waterfront. It's an ideal place for daytime. One heavy brass clipboard accompanies four paper-printed menus, easily mistakable for placemats, yet note the brass bad-boy is only for drinks. Open wide, and it's quite the delight for any pescatarian. Several types of fish, available grilled or fried. Oceanic bounties for entree, and the right kind of snacking with abalone, school prawns and trout tartare. My heart sang at the earlier hospitality at love.fish but it's now it sings a higher note.
I'm always excited to sample fish cake. I continually long for discovering something that's just so far removed from what I knew as a child from my local takeaway joint, over the other side of town. The Salmon Hash Cakes ($14) are a great example of what i was unlucky to not know when young - fresh, fluffy, pink, moist and herbacious. Somehow well-bound despite the fluffiness, yet don't crumble apart when cutting in half for sharing. Pacific Oysters ($4 each) are well and truly monsters, yet creamy and impressive to boot, even beyond their build.
The Spanish Mackerel ($22) is firm and not overcooked. Its gentle on flavour so needs little of the house tartare. A square fillet is pan-fried with a crisp layer of skin, and gently browned beneath. A handful of sides are shared somehow across our cosy table. The Celeriac Slaw ($12) is light but creamy. With only scattered sticks of apple, it maintains a savoury profile and great with fish and some accompanying lemon. The Polenta Chips ($14) are stacked orderly, and whilst on first glance this thick, smoked eggplant 'yoghurt' seems out of place and a little hard to pick, its perfect for the polenta as opposed to the usual sauce suspects we come to expect from this now common dish. Green beans ($10) sport a quick, yet slamming hit of chili and add a different layer of flavour to the rest of our dishes, to avoid melding into what could be a heavy, buttery mix if done differently.
It was hard to look beyond the Gin and Tonic bombe alaska adaptation ($15) - but it's a clear strategy on love.fish's behalf, as it is the reason we agreed to consider dessert, talking about it still whilst anticipating our entrees and mains be served. The Grilled Pineapple ($14) stands modestly, as a warm, caramelised ring of thick pineapple browned and adorned with coconut sorbet. It's a warm night but the coconut is maintaining its beautiful frosted sphere. Whilst the chilli was very much muted, long time friends of coconut and pineapple keep this one's taste-buds happy.
If your friends prefer food from the land, don't shy away. There's a couple of meaty options within the 'Paddock' offering and between the sides and starters, love.fish have made it easy to keep everyone pleased.
7/23 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo NSW
Seven Days 11:30 - 23:00