Simple yet complex yet unpretentious – this is seafood at its best, paying unadulterated homage to the patron saint of fishermen.
Eye chip and smoked eel is an unconventional start to a lunch. Yet this genius sets the tone for a truly unique seafood-only meal, set in the heart of Paddington. Josh Niland’s Saint Peter in Sydney stands head and shoulders above the plethora of other seafood restaurants because it proves that nose to tail dining is no longer confined to its traditional reserves.
From the moment you walk into the restaurant housed in sandstone, stripped brick walls and unfussy interiors, it is clear that the focus is on your plate. Fresh local fish, caught daily, dictates what is on the menu. The chef and owner set up Saint Peter after stints at The Fat Duck, Est, and years under Steve Hodges at Fish Face. And it is Niland’s deft touch with seafood that creates the magic on the menu. Dry aging fish? Niland will make you a convert.
After kicking off with Laurieton hapuka eye chip (yes, fish eye) and smoked eel ($4 each), the next adventure was a medley of Nelson Bay albacore, Ulladulla blue mackerel, pippies from Balina and broad beans ($28) married with a shallot dressing.
The highlight of dry aging fish in the restaurant’s cold room is apparent in the crackling skin of the Terrigal wild kingfish with artichokes and garlic mayonnaise ($39). On that plate is a delicate but intricate combination of flavours that puzzles and excites at the same time.
In the hands of Niland, it is difficult to avoid hyperbole for Saint Peter’s fish and chips ($28). It epitomises the restaurant’s philosophy of not departing from simplicity while elevating classics with finesse. The batter for the pink ling is made with vodka, beer and honey for a surreal lightness and crunch. You need to take a moment to realise this redefines a ubiquitous staple. The fish and chips comes with house made yoghurt tartar and pickles but the salt and vinegar onion rings ($10) and fried cauliflower with macadamias and a shallot dressing ($16) rounds off an impeccable meal.
Standing side by side with Josh is his partner Julie Niland, who is responsible for the restaurant’s trademark and unmissable lemon tart ($16). It will be difficult to choose between that, and their chocolate slice accompanied by artichoke caramel ($16).
Simple yet complex yet unpretentious – this is seafood at its best, paying unadulterated homage to the patron saint of fishermen. Josh Niland delivers a masterclass in respecting fish and changing what you thought about seafood.
Address: 362 Oxford St, Paddington, NSW 2021, Australia
Tel no: 02 8937 2530
Tuesday – Thursday, 5.30pm – late
Friday, 12pm – 2pm & 5.30pm – late
Saturday – Sunday, 11am – 3pm, 5.30pm – late