The Flinders/Elizabeth Street area is becoming the chip (and sometimes fish) corner of the CBD with at least four places within a very short distance of each other. I can't admit to being a big fish & chips eater, despite my very obvious English origins with a family tradition of fish and chips for Friday dinner when I was a kid. But that doesn't mean I'm not a fan ... not by a long shot. And when I felt in the mood for fish & chips Sea Salt seemed an obvious choice given the length of time (years) I've been wandering past it on my way to the Flinders Street train station.
What's intrigued me for a while is the combination of sushi and fish & chips, something I saw for the first time a couple of months ago when Big Fil and I visited Ebi Fine Foods in Footscray. I thought it was a strange combination when I first saw it. But given the Japanese excel when it comes to deep frying, it's clear to me they've taken what they learnt about tempura from the Portuguese about 400 years and well and truly mastered it.
With a choice between sushi and fish & chips, Big Fil and I both plumped for the Anglo option. Big Fil, a burger man from way back, went with the Grilled Fish (salmon) burger with chips. With my taste buds seriously tingling for a little fried action, I chose the salt and pepper squid served with chips, lemon wedge and tartare sauce.
The first thing I tried was the squid, without and then with the tartare sauce. It wasn't the best squid I've had but the salt and pepper coating wasn't overpowering and the squid wasn't overcooked. The chips were okay, and were good chips if you like them more delicate in size, crispy on the outside and soft inside. But that's not where my taste buds lie: what I like are those big chips, just crispy on the outside and big and fleshy inside.
Big Fil's burger was a freshly grilled salmon fillet, salad mix, tomato and cocktail sauce served with chips. Big Fil and I often find ourselves preferring each other's meals and this was the case at Sea Salt. I liked the salmon; it had that lovely fresh salmon taste and wasn't overcooked, the burger had enough salad so it wasn't all about the "meat" and I love a burger where the sauce drips down your hands. Not a favourite of everybody, I know, but to me it comes with eating a burger.
Sea Salt's great location in Degraves Street near the underground entrance to Flinders Street guarantees it plenty of food traffic seven days a week. When we turned up just before 12.30pm, there were only a few tables left outside and inside looked full. Given it was chilly outside, I appreciated the staff coming outside to light the burners for us as soon as we sat down. The wait staff are friendly, the service is quick and the serves generous. Add that to reasonable food at a good price and you really can't go wrong (including the chips). It's somewhere that seems worthwhile revisiting ... I think I'll try the sushi next time around.
Food - 7
Ambience - 6.5
Service - 6.5
Price - 7
13 Degreaves Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: 03 9654 2095