I recently spoke to a friend who writes film and theatre reviews for a newspaper. The best shows and films will have him scrawling little notes in the taxi on the way home. The very best, he said, will be written the night of viewing, to ensure those little moments of precision and pure artifice make it into the criticism. It’s only the bad ones that he must ruminate. Take time to mull over.
Last Thursday night, after leaving Flying Fish, I was punching my phone screen furiously with my thumbs. Writing particulars to ensure I wouldn’t forget them.
If you’ve never been to Flying Fish before (ashamedly, I hadn’t) it’s located down the end of Jones Bay Wharf in Pyrmont. There’s no noise, other than the sporadic party boat cruising by, and you have a view of the harbour bridge, the lights of the Northern Suburbs.
If you’ve had a long day at the office, and you’re sick of the hoots and city sirens, Little Fish Bar (outside Flying Fish) is one of the better places to perch for a few cocktails: ambient lighting, staff that attend your table with a mix of precision and spryness, and a head bartender who can churn out a damn good cocktail.
Flying Fish has one of the best oyster offerings in Sydney. We opted for the New South Wales trio – Hastings, Manning River, and Merimbula. The oysters were accompanied by a signature – the prawn and popcorn skewer, which made me wonder – where’s the movie?
Next to arrive was the fish taco. One my favourites and, I believe, one of the most underrated dishes going. Battered fish, cooked well, with a creamy ‘slaw and some jalapeno. Flying Fish make their own bread, which is warm and reassuring and complements the creamy and crunchy contents. If you’re relaxing with a beer in one hand, there’s no better addition to the other than a fish taco. Afterwards, go for some cider braised chorizo and toast. And last, but definitely not least, was the crispy prawn burger with lettuce and spicy mayo. Battered prawn, crisp lettuce, thick mayonnaise with just enough punch. The bun had been toasted so perfectly the middle was soft and the outsides were all crunch. Bravo.
Appetites successfully whetted, it was time to move onto al a carte. The Yellowfin tuna, puffed pork, grapefruit and black pepper caramel was possibly the dish of the night. Faultless tuna, a touch of pork, soaking up the sweet and spicy caramel that was so good I had my finger mopping up the last morsels of the meal. No-one could see, and the dish was too good to leave a skerrick behind.
One of the signature dishes – Confit Petuna ocean trout, leek crème fraiche, persimmon, quinoa and puffed skin – was true craftsmanship. I said to my dining companion, who agreed, that the best things about this dish – this restaurant – is that there’s both a dedication to flavour and technical proficiency. Every element is cooked and presented with delicacy and finesse. While some other recent dishes have been flavoursome, there’s an absence of dexterity that Flying Fish seem to nail, dish after dish.
WA marron, brown butter and tamarind emulsion, charred lettuce and aged balsamic is another finger finisher. Beautiful, fresh, sweet marron mixes well with the buttery emulsion. It’s great too, down under, to see lettuce served other than a crisp base for a salad. How do the aged balsamic and the butter mix together? Well, damned bloody well.
Glazed quail, silken tofu, snow pea leaves, roasted potato broth and ginger is a textural feat, even if the broth is mostly saline: my only real criticism of the evening.
Normally, I would match food of this quality with wine. However, we came for cocktails, so cocktails it had to be. My favourites (and they were all mixed well) included a Pisco Sour (Pisco, lime, egg whites, bitters) and a cocktail no longer on the menu: A ‘Gingerella’: Bacardi 8, lime, pineapple, ginger and ginger syrup.
The shared dessert plate looked beautiful – a melange of textures, flavours, colours – mainly chocolate, mint, lemon – and went pleasantly with my nicely-made (not too sweet) Espresso Martini.
Inside, low lighting, wood and dangling lights ensure you have an intimate dining space. I’m mostly kicking myself for taking so long to finally dine here. I even tweeted, on the night, ‘the best food, service and cocktails I’ve had in Sydney lately: Flying Fish. They’ve still got it.’
Sure, there are others as good, but sometimes it’s nice to have all of the boxes ticked neatly. To have your thumbs moving across the screen quickly to make sure you can remember just how good it was the next day.
Flying Fish Restaurant and Bar
19-21 Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont
+61 2 9518 6677