The Picky Eater

by Gazette Reporter

WHEN it arrived early last year, Picky Eater thought Fish Shop was a humble chipper – should’ve known better
The logo – elegant and discreet – and the waiter in a bow tie wearing a look of polite mystification when I asked for a one-and-one were enough to send me packing, with plans emerging for a more dignified return.
The mistake was understandable – Queen Street, with its three lanes of honking motors and the Luas running through it – has long lost any of its Victorian charms.
Notwithstanding a few sound watering holes (Ryan’s, The Dice Man), it’s possibly the least likely spot in the capital for posh fish and chips – this is Picky’s defence.
The second visit was far more satisfying. We dropped in and found the protocol was first-come, first-served; no bookings taken.
A wait of 40 to 45 minutes? No problem. Repair to Ryan’s for an aperitif; a phone call later, and we cantered hungrily towards our tea.
The Fish Shop interior is really lovely: space is at a premium, and Picky’s guest was tickled to find he was sitting on a stash of beer!
The dozen or so diners squish themselves happily around a single row of rough wooden tables; others sit on high stools at the window.
There’s much smiling, nodding, snippets of cross conversations, and then there’s the delicious aroma – a far cry from the pong of old fat or oil that regrettably some of us now associate with the national dish.
The menu, as you might expect, is refreshingly simple: you can start with fried oysters or mussels or cockles, moving on to a fillet o’fish (burger), or battered haddock served with tartare sauce or whatever the batter-free catch of the day is.
Sides include bread and butter (no nods in the direction of gluten-free, but what the hell), twice-fried chips, green herb salad and tartare sauce or garlic mayo. You can wash it all down with wine or beer by the bottle.
Our jaded Christmas palates were happy to have our decisions made easy. Very quickly, we plumped for the old-fashioned item (a one-and-one), and the fish burger (hake fillet on a toasted brioche bun with fennel, apple, garlic mayo and mint).
The latter was judged a taste sensation! Being greedy, we also ordered chips, salad and extra tartare sauce.
My hake was deliciously tender and moist – frankly, the best fried fish I’ve ever tasted, and that’s no lie. The batter was light, crisp and something not intended to be left on a plate.
Otherwise, the chips were crisp, the salad was fresh and lightly dressed. Service friendly, efficient and unobtrusive, despite the squash.
Yes, there are no desserts – in this instance, an occasion of sin happily avoided. With a glass of white and a bottle of ale, the bill came to around €55.
Smithfield has a dearth of good eating venues, so Picky and pal vacated the premises with the following slogan: The Fish Shop on Queen Street – long may she reign!
It’s closed Monday and Sunday; open for lunch (from noon) Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, otherwise open from 2.30 to 10pm.

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