Tuesday 13 October 2009
Sometimes you just want something quick and simple to eat. You don’t want to spend a fortune, you don’t want to take 4 hours over your meal and you don’t mind stepping back in time.
And on such an occasion, if you also happen to feel like fish, then Paul’s on Gouger Street, should hit the spot. But let’s establish, from the start, that you’re not heading in to fine dining territory. I saw this because quite a few web reviews I’ve read have complained about the restaurant being a little basic: I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up!
We headed there for an early fish supper on a rainy evening and Paul’s delivered on everything that counted: quick, cheap, fresh and unfussy.
Seated at a barely dressed melamine table we scooted through the menu – which consists of fish. The specials consist of fish. A plate of tartare sauce arrived at the same time as our drinks. Hopefully by now you get the idea that this is a seafood restaurant and there’s little point in coming if you want something else!
We started by sharing an entrée of whitebait and followed it with the special salt and pepper soft shell crab and a piece of whiting, crumbed. For much of the fish you have a choice of battered, crumbed or grilled, one or two pieces – so the health conscious and hungry can be accommodated. All the meals are served with a very simple salad: some lettuce, some tomato and, in what I can only presume is a nod to the 1970s, a slice of orange.
All the fish is cooked at the front of the restaurant, ready to go straight from the fryer to the plate of salad and then to your table. We enjoyed fresh, perfectly cooked seafood: the salt and pepper soft shell crab was notable for not being greasy and for tasting of … salt and pepper, rather than salt and chilli or (far worse) salt and grease!
We finished up in an around an hour: far from ideal for a leisurely Friday evening out but perfect for a school night. The service was friendly and efficient and didn’t compromise on actually looking after us.
For a shared entrée, two main courses, two beers and one glass of wine the bill came to just over $70. With our Entertainment Book voucher we saved 25%, making the final bill just over $50.
Yes, Paul’s is more fish caf than restaurant – and I certainly don’t mean that in a disparaging way. It’s like having supper at home – but without the hassle of shopping and washing up!