The Thorndon Chippery recently opened in the old Le Canard premises on Murphy Street, following the same successful formula as its Mt Vic sister – pick your fish, then its coat, then its side arms and sauce.
Which got me to wondering whether this is the way of the fish’n’chip future.
The lads behind the chipperies are a chef and a fisherman, with the desire to put the focus squarely back on the fish and chips, with more than one generic offering. When asked what they’d like their customers to say at the end of the chippery experience, the answer was ‘finally, decent fish’n’chips’. They also pride themselves on total freshness from their door to yours, and so along came the pretty brown anti-sog boxes.
As well as a list of the day’s fresh market fish, you will find a range of burgers and both fishy and vegetarian extras to satisfy all appetites. Consider whitebait fritters, crumbed scallops, calamari or fish bites, crumbed brie, pineapple or potato fritters, salads, etc.
On our visit we went away with panko-crumbed groper, herb-crusted blue warehou, fish balls, a vegan burger, homemade tartare sauce and a range of fries. They were all judged to be above average in quality and flavour, and despite not being a tartare fan, I found myself licking every last drop from the container (I kid you not) – a delicious balance of lemon, capers and gherkins in a pleasing viscous base.
And the hand-cut agrias. Oh. My. God. There is just no other comment. The chippery staff hand cut, slice and blanch these beauties daily from bags of honest-to-goodness agrias into big doorstoppers for the final fry (the substantial ‘small’ serve above). They go through separate gluten-free fryers at each store to prevent crumb contamination, and result in mouthfuls of crispy-exteriored, fluffy-interiored heaven (confession – there may be some Irish blood lurking in these veins…).
In terms of wait times, you can order online and then stroll along to pick up (super easy and efficient), or nestle yourself into one of the tables at each location. But beware the seating is limited, so have Plan B handy (in the case of the Mt Vic Chippery, the Black Sparrow is conveniently located across the road for a quick one while you wait – a most cunning plan!).
Now there’s no denying its fun doing all that choosing, and the boxes are ever so pretty, but I did wonder about losing some of the fun of unwrapping a pyramid of food, liberally dousing with Mr Wattie’s finest and undertaking a big dig. They are also more expensive than your standard fish’n’chips, and you won’t get all the traditional extras (crabsticks, spring rolls, donuts, banana fritters). So the Chippery experience may not be for everyone.
But after all that? The quality is superior, the service better, and the choices substantial. Game on.
Mt Vic Chippery – 5 Majoribanks Street
Thorndon Chippery – 10 Murphy Street