Apropos yesterday’s Pendolino blog, I thought I’d swing that pesky pendulum back in the other direction and tell you about my date with Llew last Friday night (some weeks we don’t eat out at all; last week we were merry-go-dining), and then I’ll get off this food jag, I promise. It’s just nice to be able to offer you a counterpoint, I think, and if anyone is looking for a lovely night out, you could do a whole lot worse than Garfish.
There are several Garfish properties: Crows Nest, Kirribilli, and Manly. We’ve had lunch and dinner at Garfish Manly, and we headed there last Friday for our date night. We often spend Friday nights locally, and it’s a lovely little tradition we’ve built up of meeting down at the ferry wharf, having a drink somewhere, and then strolling around Man Town village looking for somewhere to have a cosy dinner. Recession? Sorry? You’ll have to speak louder. I can’t hear you.
Anyway, we went up to Four Pines for our pre-dinner beverages. It’s fantastic to see them doing so well, and quite right too because they’re a lovely lot in there, so friendly, and they make good beer. Its atmosphere is great too – not too big, moodily lit, warmly furnished – I just can’t find a lot wrong with the joint. And by the looks of the Friday night crowd, I’m not the only one. We grabbed the last two seats in the place, right in the corner near the toilets, and had a de-brief about the day over the home brew. A dandy start. I was starving, and when I’m starving I am evil and dangerous, so food became a pretty big priority, especially after a Four Pines beer whet my appetite. Since Garfish is no more than twenty paces from Four Pines, it hit the lead in the ‘Where to Next’ poll.
It was only just after 7 pm, but Garfish was already jumping. Man Town has embraced this place like few others; it’s full even on a Monday night. And here’s why: they run a good joint. It’s a good model, and a smooth operation. Looking at it from outside is quite deceiving – it looks sort of cold and uninviting, and I am always surprised anew whenever I walk in there and see how pleasant a space it really is. Obviously the views across the harbour don’t hurt, but the fit-out itself is a lot more effective and comfortable than outside appearances suggest.
We decided to sit in the bar area (and we found out Friday that you can do this whether you’re planning to stay for dinner or not: good to know because it’s a lovely little bar), have a drink and a ‘traveller’ (also known as that little morsel that’ll stave off hungry psychosis until the main event) whilst contemplating the menu. We went for stuffed zucchini flowers. This dish is currently ubiquitous in Sydney, it’s like pork belly all over again, but here instead of the usual goat’s cheese etc. stuffing, it’s crabmeat. Mmmm… delicious. If we’d been teetering about staying for dinner (I was bleating something about our budget with a total lack of sincerity), the zucchs decided us. We wanted to sit along the banquette facing the rest of the restaurant and straight out to the harbour, and the staff happily obliged us with the ideal table as soon as it became free. People, by this stage, were teeming through the door at a rate of knots. Does anyone cook in Sydney anymore? I do – last night Llewie came home to garlic king prawns and a rocket, basil, parmesan and avocado salad. Not bad for a Monday night if I do say so myself. Tonight it’ll be a pasta of some description. I haven’t decided yet but it’s going to involve the rest of the fresh basil, some chilli, and a spicy salami we found on Saturday. The rest is yet to be decided…
Look, the main reason I want to say I’m pro-Garfish is that the service is lovely, always, and the food is just really, really good. We had a wood-roasted fish from their daily selection (irritatingly I can’t remember the species, but I was unfamiliar with the name. Happily it was just how I like my fish: white, moist, firm flesh) and lobster tails with salsa verde – I mean, Y-U-M. How delicious. So fresh, so simply prepared, so tasty, and so reasonable. You can even BYO wine to Garfish – fantastic. We were so sated, so completely chuffed and satisfied afterwards that we’re still telling people about it days later, so as far as I’m concerned they deserve some damn credit. Now that’s what I call a successful date.
[N.B. The only thing I don’t like about Garfish – and I HATE, HATE, HATE it – is that they have flat-screen TVs in the restaurant. They only show live footage from the kitchen and the view outside on the harbour, but they’re TVs nonetheless, and I wish they weren’t there].