Starting life as a fish and chip shack in Blackrock Market, Fish Shop is the latest incarnation by Londoner Jumoke Akintola and Tramore man Peter Hogan. The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it restaurant on Queen Street, just opposite Dice Bar, is low-key and unassuming, which makes dining here even more of a pleasant surprise.
Around the corner from their brilliantly-conceived fish and chip shop-cum wine bar (the short menu there includes a beer-battered hake burger served in brioche with fennel slaw and mussels with chips) this tiny fish restaurant offers a set menu each night of 4-6 courses based around the catch of the day. With Jumoke running the open-fronted kitchen and Peter working the floor, this is very much an intimate operation.
The décor is simple – whitewashed brick walls, white tiles, recycled school desks as tables, bentwood chairs and bare bulbs. It’s perfectly comfortable, although a little chilly in winter. The welcome, however, is warm and the smells enticing.
Peter reveals the set menu to guests (it’s also written up on tiles): Each day they’ll offer 4-6 courses for €35, based on the day's fresh catch. They only serve fresh Irish seafood; there’s nothing frozen nor imported on the menu.
Wines by the glass can be matched to each dish, if desired – which is a big undertaking for a place whose menu changes daily – and there are also plenty of bottles and Irish beers on offer.
An amuse bouche might feature the house dish of tempura oysters, salty, sweet and crisp bites served, perhaps, with pickled seaweed and oyster mayonnaise. Flavour-packed dishes like cockles and mussels cooked in Cragies Irish cider or a fragrant fish soup might precede a croquette of confit salmon belly with crisp fennel, apple and radish salad before moving onto the main event, perhaps barbecued salmon with dill-spiked buttermilk and seared tenderstem broccoli.
A simple dessert, like a deliciously sticky almond cake, with cooling mascarpone and pear will round off a meal that’s perfectly balanced and judged. And at €35 per person, Fish Shop offers tremendous value for money.
The relaxed service, cool tunes, super ingredients and honest cooking make this an absolute gem in the heart of Smithfield.