Fish Shop is not a new opening, but I’ve spent the best part of two years “meaning to try it” and hearing about how fantastic it is.
Finally, the day came when the stars aligned and I got myself up to this compact little eatery just past Smithfield tucked away on Benburb Street. The concept is a neat one. Classic fish ‘n’ chips in a chic but casual dining space with gourmet nods on a restrained but still eclectic menu.
The small space is black and white with glints of copper in the light fittings and marble counters which provide the seating. It’s laid back and while I usually have very strong feelings about eating perched on a high stool, I’m ready to forgive Fish Shop the second I spot smoked haddock croquettes among the small plates.
Enjoying an elegant and delicious lunch in Fish Shop is giving me Lisbon vibes. As a non-drinker I can’t speak to the wines on offer, only the obvious joy they’re giving to my co-diners and it does seem the perfect place to share some plates and savour a crisp white of an afternoon, if you’re into that kind of thing. There’s a tapas-feel to the menu but all casual appearances belie a serious precision in the perfectly executed dishes making their way from a kitchen hidden discreetly out of the way of the main dining and bar area.
Though the squid sliders were also calling to me from the small plates section, we opt for the aforementioned smoked haddock croquettes to start along with the Cantabrian anchovy on toast with Russian salad. The two plates, which we share, are small, perfectly-formed bites of heaven and great value at €4.50 each. The Work Wife wants to order more croquettes immediately and needs to be talked down. They are crispy globes filled with creamy almost mousse-like haddock and served on a smear of aioli.
Meanwhile, the anchovies on Russian salad seduces me from the first bite. The Russian salad is a kind of mayonnaise potato, pickle and onion melange in the vein of an Olivier salad and is just the vehicle for the sharp, savoury thrust of the anchovy.
In Fish Shop, you’ll find some of the best seafood in the city. Think cockles with Gubbeen chorizo and sherry, classic mussels with garlic and herbs and Connemara oysters. However, neither of us can resist the Fish Shop burger which is the day’s catch – a meaty hake in this case – battered to perfection served with a tangy aioli on brioche with apple slaw and the best chips I have eaten in ages.
With such a minimalist dish, the room for getting away with anything less than totally faultless just ain’t there. Simple as it may be, every element is thoroughly considered, the portions and flavours, exceedingly well-judged and frankly, our clean plates as much as anything attest to how good it is. A word on the chips: they are fat chip shop chips but with more crunch than the chipper chip spongy kind of vibe. As much as I love a vinegar-sodden chipper chip, I liked the Fish Shop take even better.
The one bum note for me was a lemon posset with rhubarb dessert that I felt was a bit too set. It wasn’t creamy and unctuous but really quite firm – still, the Work Wife devoured it so I may be too hard line in this case. It’s great to see that after three years in business, the dedication to creating something singular and excellent has not waned in Fish Shop, still an unmissable treat for seafood fans.
76 Benburb St
Tue – Wed: 12pm-9.30pm
Thur – Sat: 12pm–10pm