The menu is a laminated card and specials are written on strategically placed chalk boards. The wine list also comes as a laminated card. Most admirable is the inclusion of a children’s section on the menu and a note on the bottom of the adequate and very reasonably priced wine list stating that no corkage is charged.
Suffice to say every kind of fish is available, including our own Tilapia, in addition to which there is a variety of meat dishes for those so inclined — the meat special of the day was lamb curry, and when I visited previously there was the unusual offering of rabbit stew. Unless there is plainly nothing that appeals, I inevitably choose from the specials in any restaurant.
The day’s choice was butterfish, baby cob or pollock fillet. Swayed by my antipathy to eating fish which stare me straight in the eye, not to mention the delicate surgery needed to take it off the bone, I opted for the pollock fillet (US$15) and my companion the butterfish (US$15) which had just one large, easily managed centre bone; with chips for my companion and salad for me.
For starters we chose to share a portion of fried halloumi (US$6).
Service was slow, but this was understandable due to the two large tables needing to be served at the same time, and the waiters’ relaxed and pleasant demeanour under pressure was commendable. Three perfectly fried pieces of halloumi arrived but no sauce such as chilli jam to “zing” our taste buds. Perhaps this is taking the “no frills approach” a bit too far! We helped ourselves to cutlery and paper napkins from the container on the table, but decided against the large, not very tempting bread rolls.
Our wine arrived, an unchilled bottle of Zonnebloem Sauvignon Blanc which I had no hesitation in returning, and which was cheerfully replaced by a well-chilled Nederburg SB (US$14) complete with an ice bucket.
Both main course fish dishes were perfectly cooked and my pollock, now widely regarded as the eco-friendly alternative to endangered cod, had managed to retain the flavour of the sea which indicated that The Fishmonger has got its storage (despite power cuts) well-organised. My companion’s chips were however disappointing, being of the thin, limp “McDonalds” variety, rather than the thick, freshly fried, crisp variety “that mother made”! My salad, although substantial and fresh, was unremarkable; both dishes sported a giant and juicy wedge of lemon but no other decoration.
The rain continued unabated and sheltered as we were, and very well-fed, we were in no hurry to leave, so unusually we ordered a dessert each — mine “pudding marie” (US$3) and my companion, the iconic “crème caramel” (US$3). Both were up to standard and mine nicely presented in a glass showing the layers of marie biscuits and gooey high cholesterol filling not unrelated to a cheesecake!
Not only was it wet, it was also cold, so we pushed the boat out and had a delicious Irish coffee (US$5). It was now quite late and the large tables had left, but we were not the last, and there was a commendable lack of pressure from the waiters for us to venture into the wet outside.
Family Restaurant, 4 Plates
Expect to spend US$20 to US$35 per head
50 East Road, Avondale.
On previous visits to The Fishmonger I have considered it pricey, but that was some time ago, and I found its current prices to be within the norm for the high quality of food offered.
As a family restaurant, it “ticks all the boxes”. Those to whom presentation is an important feature of their meal might be disappointed, but for me, the cheerful ambience at The Fishmonger and the fabulous fish, ensured that I will definitely return in the near future!