Wednesday, June 22, 2011

[Holiday] Mongers Gourmet Fish and Chips, Byron Bay

Mongers Fish and Chips
Bay Lane
(behind Beach Hotel)
Byron Bay

Now this place is known by many names; Gourmet fish & chips, Mongers, Fishmongers fish & chips; probably all host of many others I don't know about by the locals. Anyhows, I don't really care.

Bay Lane
Bay Lane; a laneway of dining establishments.

Mongers fish&chips@Byron Bay
We walked in at 11.50am, the place is opened but lights off (pretty dark in there). A lady was at the counter staring at the cash register. Didn't once look up when we approached. Two minutes later, she (was finally awake?) told us, 'we opened in 10 minutes.' I asked if we can just sit and wait, she looked at me blankly and said, 'come back ten minures,' then diverted back her gaze/attention to the register.

I almost did not go back after the cold encounter but reviews about the place had been glowing and locals rate it as their favourite fish and chips in the WHOLE of Australia (probably those never venture out of their locals, I later cynically figured, I know I am evil, grrrr).

We were back in the shop 10 past 12pm and it was still dark, never once did the lights were flicked on. Well, fine, we can always sit out so we can actually see what we were eating. I thought too much, it really wouldn't have mattered anywhere I sat, dark room, under broad sunlight, reasons revealed later..........

Mongers menu
There were also blackboard specials near the register.

Half dozen Sydney Rocks $12 (swimming in broken shells)

Fish 1
Fish 2
Fish 3
Now, you might wonder how I put up three (identical?) photos of the fish dish. Truth is I can't tell which is which.

Story was we ordered 2 different kinds of fish, one pan fried, one grilled, one spicy, one with herb/nut rub and different sauces.

When they arrived, both fish looked exactly the same, you can only tell the difference by the colour of the sauce in the plastic container. Oh, I am eating the one with tartar, and oh I am now eating the one with herb mayo....

The kumara chips were drenched in oil and tough with a little crisp, you know how your thin chips taste like if its been out exposed to the air for a few days.....

The fish, oh, where do I begin......Princess asked after taking one bite, 'is this chicken?' Orz, I was a bit cross after tasting but Big King actually laughed and said,'its not but we can pretend its chicken'. Kakakaka, Chinese had this saying, 'find a bit of happiness in dire situation'. We couldn't finish the 'chicken' although we were starving after markets and walking around town, then chased away and sat in the playground before coming to this 'Gourmet' fish & chips.

My advice is, sometimes extensive research won't do you any good. Taste is a very subjective thing. Just go where the lines/locals are. In this case (Byron Bay), I noticed a lot of suits and ladies who lunch sitting comfortably inside Utopia just at the start of Bay Lane. The waitress looked attentive, bubbly and smiley and pretty if I might add.

The patrons looked like they were enjoying the food and the ambience. A big contrast to the experience we just had, 2 tables (presumably tourists who were lured by guides and reviews) occupied in the darkest dining room. It wouldn't have mattered if the place was dark or bright, the food tasted all the same with colder than cold staff.

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