Sunday, 26 July 2015

Quick Bites - Beer and Fish (where's the beer)

Beer & Fish HK

One of the things I miss most about my former home, a country that is one big island where most of the population lives on the coastline, is the variety of fish available when visiting a fish and chip shop.  In most fish and chipperies in Australia, you have a myriad of options available, all of it amazing quality.  So far, I've discovered that there is a distinct lack of fish and chip joints, and the few good ones I've found, there are limited options available.

My favourite so far has been Hooked in Soho (see post here), but even this New Zealand run little joint has very few options for an adventurous diner.  So, it was with a little trepidation that we visited the new the SoHo fish and chip joint, Beer & Fish.  We'd had a few false starts over the last few weeks, walking by  a couple of Saturday afternoons in a row, only to find that Beer & Fish was 'not quite open' yet.  Then, one day, it was open!

Being brand new, Beer & Fish had that shiny new feeling about it, everything was shiny and clean and it looked pretty cool.  Exposed light fittings gave it a slightly industrial feel, as did the metal benches that doubled as serving benches.  Like a lot of dining spots in SoHo, Beer & Fish took up very little room, in fact it was tiny, and would probably only hold half a dozen diners at any one time.

We were given a little fold out card, which doubled as the menu and when we unfurled the little card, could see three clear sections. The left hand side was all about the boozy shakes, beer on tap and wine options.  Mid section was about the food and the right hand panel was about the sides. Looking over the menu, I could see that there was a distinctive Southern American (Louisiana) influence on the menu, especially when I noticed the beer battered seafood Po-Boy and the fried chicken & shrimp Jambalaya.  However, to my dismay, I saw that there was a distinct lack of option when it came to fish.

We contemplated leaving at that point, but we'd already ordered our drinks (if you could call SC's order a drink).  Which was also a bit of an issue.  For a restaurant called Beer & Fish, there was not only a lack of fish options, there was also no beer available!  With a 'humph', SC had settled for a glass of water, but I'd actually already ordered a vanilla ice cream shake, which to be fair was pretty decent.

Deciding to give Beer & Fish the benefit of the doubt, we went ahead and ordered some food. With limited options, I chose the beer battered fish and fries, which came with Atlantic Cod in an Original Wit beer batter.  Also coming with the order was a serve of triple fried hand-cut chips and dipping sauce.  Lunch was served in a white cardboard box that actually help make the serving of fish and chips look ok, and was also helped along by half a lemon with an interesting design, and a touch of colour from carrots and lettuce.  My fish looked like it had been deep fried with a slightly heavy handed approach, with the beer batter looking very thick, which was confirmed after my first bite.

Look, Atlantic Cod is not the most exciting fish on the planet and while it was cooked well and was nice and moist, it really didn't have much flavour.  Even the beer batter wasn't able to help improve the flavour of the fish, so I ended up leaving most of the fish.  Thankfully though, the hand cut chips were pretty delish, especially since the potato skin was left on to add to the flavour.

SC fared a little better with her option of 'real fish fingers', a modern take on that dish we were all forced to eat as kids (well, in Australia anyway).  The fish option wasn't any different, it was still Atlantic Cod, but the fish fingers came in smaller bite sized pieces cooked in bread crumb, which seemed to work better with the fish.  The fish was still quite bland, but the tastier crumb and the accompanying triple-honey mustard made the dish more enjoyable.

One of the more interesting facets of our lunch at Beer & Fish was the abundance of factual beer coasters, which sprouted a heap of useful(?) facts about beer throughout the ages.  There were enough to make placemats for our lunch.  Yep, probably not the right use for beer coasters, but given the distinct lack of beer, as good a purpose as any.

We were told that the joint would be a few weeks away from being ready to serve beer.  I have to say I'm a bit perplexed... I'm not sure that it's a great strategy to open a place called Beer & Fish without beer, and with a limited number of fish options.  We also overheard the waitress telling another bloke that once the beer is available, that they will remain open till the early hours of the morning.

It's a competitive little spot in that little section of SoHo and with the pace in which restaurants open and close in HK, you'd want to think that Beer & Fish will pick up.  I guess the clue is in the restaurants name with 'beer' coming before fish.  They just need to get that sorted and it might just work...


There was an homage to old school fish and chips with a 'newspaper' at the base of the fish
I thought we'd moved past jars as milkshake containers!  But it was thick, creamy and perfect for a hot day
The beer component was missing!
Condiment options were quite good
Bet you didn't know that!!
Cool facade - definitely seeing more street art around the area

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