Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Swampdog Fish and Chips

I have no idea how long I've wanted to go to this restaurant for but its been at least a year. I remembered when it was the talk of the town on Urbanspoon and I was so excited, once I had read the reviews. I had big plans to go here after work. It was only a short distance bus away, somewhere in South Brisbane, serving freshly caught sustainable fish and chips as well as other exotic seafood combinations like deep fried school prawns, pesto grilled barramundi and tempura'd soft shell crab! Their pictures made my mouth water and the prices were very affordable. They even gave you free cups of lemonade with your purchase!

Unfortunately I am cursed with full time work, gym junkie friends and a poor sense of direction so I never did find where it was or someone to go there with me. That is until one afternoon when I was walking home from my Boyfriend's house and I saw that instantly recognised hairy bone fish sign! Swampdog I proclaimed! He didn't care, anyone who knows me is used to me saying this place is good, or that place is great, or my friend told me to go here but yet when asked, I don't have any actual desire to actually eat there.

So he was very surprised when we actually went inside one day haha.

I quite liked the outside look of this place. Its very salvaged from the sea haha, the tables are made of old doors and the doorknobs still turn! Its not just a look. There was a place to sit out at the back with a kitchen garden beside it, with strung up light bulbs that the kitchen leads to. Its nice at night actually but during the day, I wasn't keen to go anywhere near it actually, so I didn't even bother to take a picture of it.
They work!
Here's the solid menu as well as a shifting everyday specials one written on chalk on the wall. It looks like its taken a lot of beating with the cloudy haze left behind by other days specials.

I'll be back to try most of these!
The first thing I spotted inside aside from that was the cold drinks fridge. Not sure if boxed water is any better for you, but its probably environmentally better with recycled paper as opposed to plastic? The secret recipe tea range is very good.

Boxed water!
As well as these ice cream sandwiches, I'm very interested in trying one of these someday. They come in a variety of flavours and we were eventually too full to try one, despite planning to have a shared one for dessert.

All the different flavours!

But uh, they don't look that tasty . . .
There's also this big communal table inside with plugged in iPads that you can use.

This table is oddly sticky.
Here is a shot of the free lemonade pitcher. I've read a lot of reviews saying its sweet and tasty but the day we went it was quite diluted. Like someone had made a lemon simple syrup and just kept topping it up with water when it ran low, that's the kind of washed out taste I was getting. The second time we went here, we got a freshly made batch which was much better, and had pretty curls of lemon zest everywhere.

Bit hit and miss. Get it when its full.
This is the owner of the place! How do I know? I stalked him from the Swampdog blog of course. Creepy much. His blog is worth a read if you want to know about sustainable fishing. It can be found here, alongside a legible and non-blurry version of the menu. Oh and a link to their app, which gives you specials, cheaper deals and lets you know what the catch of the day is, handy if you decide to become a frequent customer. They hide the QR scan cards under the counter, so ask if you wanna scan it!

Stalking 101.
Anyway, you ordered with him, paid, collected your meal when it was rung up by the kitchen staff behind this tall wall/bench. At night time, there are way more people and they actually ask you for your name.

There's writing all around but I didn't care about what it said
I decided to get us crispy fried popcorn shrimp as a shared meal. The fresh looking butter lettuce is a deception! Its not healthy at all! Check out those deep golden brown school prawns, they were covered in a paprika, salt and something else batter that was very simple but very good. You ate each of these tasty little morsels in one go, head and all! Not for the faint of heart, since they're school prawns, their shells are quite thin and just crunch deliciously rather than get stuck. Sorta like soft shell crab and how you can eat its shell without getting bits stuck in your teeth. I dream about these prawns when I'm craving something deep fried.

My Boyfriend got the fish and chips, he chose crumbed whiting fillets, of course. For me crumbed is always the option. I associate batter for gross things like corn dogs, banana fritters and that sort of thing, I don't like its potentially sodden nature. Crumbed on the other hand, while unhealthy, is nearly always appealingly golden brown and crunchy as a potato chip. On the second time, we went here, he went with fish and chips with mackerel, BUT BATTERED. I ate the fish and scrunched up my face at the batter portion. We got tartare sauce that was quite average, tangy and creamy but missing that sour note that you get from the inclusion of pickles.

Lettuce in MY fish and chips
I got the salt and pepper squid as my main meal the first time around. It was too pale! I did like the crushed pepper bits and how soft and tender the actual squid was but once again, I want my salt and pepper squid to be unhealthily crunchy! Golden brown heart attack style! You couldn't taste the salt at all. They came with a preserved lemon aioli that was very creamy but didn't carry through the preserved lemon very well to my taste.

The second time that I mentioned we went here was before some of my work mates and my boyfriend decided to go for dinner before we went to see the first showing of the Perks of being a Wallflower. I didn't take any photos cause I wanted it to be quick and since we went around 6pm, the lighting was pretty bad too. The very picky Ms K., regally decided that Swampdog was up to her standards and allowed us to go here. Ms M for Megababe was fine with whatever, and Lu and my Boyfriend was happy to follow my lead.

Lu., for herself mackerel wrap and said while she has never had one before, the fish was really good. She adds that, this is coming from a girl bought up on the Barrier Reef whose father goes out fishing all the time, so she has high standards. Ms M for Megababe got battered fish and chips, but I can't remember if she chose a fish specifically, she liked her meal and thought it was good. Ms K., got herself a fish burger and was the last to actually be given her meal, even she was happy with her meal.

I wanted popcorn prawns aka school prawns again but they had run out, so I went with tempura'd soft shell crab with Asian salad and it was terrible. The batter was soggy and it squirted hot oil into my mouth, so I got a mild burn, I didn't notice much crab inside the batter. My Asian style salad was terrible, mint, nappa cabbage, butter lettuce, celery, tomato and mostly red onion bits. Like I'm talking it was a red onion salad, it was wolfed down by my Boyfriend, but he's weird like that.

Swampdog Fish and Chips
Atmosphere: 9, its like fancy arse fish and chip shop, that should be plonked down on your local beach. This is the place that is a local secret and you can BYO whatever you want here, which you can do incidentally. I really like the door tables, and I know Lu., got a kick out of them too.
Service: 6, the owner is a super nice guy who is happy to chat to you about sustainable fishing and offer a recommendation.
Food: 7. The food is a bit hit and miss here, what I like I really like, what I don't, I really couldn't care less or even be bothered to eat. The quality of food is good and you can where they're going with the flavours, its just a bit lacking. Swampdog Fish and Chips on Urbanspoon

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