Fish and chips return to St Kilda.
IN THE days following the fire that razed the Stokehouse on the eve of its 25th year, Frank van Haandel probably wasn’t thinking the disaster would provide him with the opportunity to realise a long-held ambition. But when Paper Fish opens in a fortnight, he will be bringing family memories of fish and chips back to the St Kilda foreshore.
“When my children were young, once a month we’d wander down to the Jean Jacques’ (now Donovans) takeaway window and have fish and chips on the beach,” he says. “That’s been missing on the beach for the last 20 years. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for the last 10 or 15 years, but we didn’t have the space.”
The Paper Fish kiosk will have a separate entrance to the rest of the Robert Simeoni-designed building, which has taken almost three years to construct. Casual eatery Pontoon, scheduled to open at the end of October, will be downstairs, with upstairs dining room, Stokehouse, opening on December 6.
“The nicest part is that we’ve almost got all areas covered, every age group, and every budget,” van Haandel says. “There’s something in this building for everyone.”
Billed as a premium fish and chip kiosk, Paper Fish will offer a limited menu made up of fish that’s as “sustainable as possible”, grilled or in a light tempura batter. Crinkle-cut chips are a nod to the ’70s, while sweet potato cakes reflect our more health-conscious times.
Soft-shell crab in a milk bun with sriracha mayo is the closest the kiosk comes to a burger, while the coconut prawn taco is sure to prove a winner on St Kilda’s summer nights.
“We want to bring the seaweed, sand, salt air inside and capture that,” van Haandel says of the menu that can be pre-ordered via an app. “After three frustrating, angry years, we’re really excited to be back.” Paper Fish will open on October 8. It will be open daily from noon until the end of Daylight Saving, when it will close for six months.