I'll say at the start that it was worth the expense. At the same time, we were surprised to find that the food experience fell down in a couple of ways that we didn't expect.
Caramelised Patagonian toothfish with spring onion
One thing that the place offers, rarely seen elsewhere, is Patagonian toothfish from the Heard Island fishery. Before readers go all eco-warrior about this, I looked it up before we went. The Heard Island fishery is well-managed, and the catch quotas are set at a precautionary level. So this was a fish we definitely wanted to sample.
We had the choice of eating a la carte, or trying the daily menu. There was also the option of choosing a whole fish from the impressive display. We chose the menu, as it promised a good variety of dishes, including the toothfish. The waiter warned that it would take an hour and a quarter to get through the seven courses, which was fine by us.
Working our way through the courses was fun. Mrs Leghorn doesn't like oysters, and the restaurant was happy to provide a substitute – raw kingfish with soy, citrus and ginger.
Raw scampi were also excellent. The range of raw dishes at the Fish House is another sign of how seriously they take their seafood. Cooking can hide any number of faults, but the quality of raw seafood is apparent immediately.
Smoked oysters and smoked eel were a bit meh, but there's only so much anyone can do with eel. The smoked ocean trout had us in raptures. It was as if someone had taken a beautiful piece of sashimi and added just a hint of smokiness.
A few other things really stood out. The tartare sauce with the school prawns was sublime, as was the lemony fish soup.
Lemony fish soup
The risotto was just as a risotto should be: al dente, creamy and presented in a risotto plate.
And then it all fell down. The amazing ocean trout set our expectations pretty high, so we waited eagerly for the final course. And waited. And waited. We weren't the only ones. As we looked around the restaurant, most tables were talking politely and not eating, because there was nothing to eat. It ended up being a full half hour between the arrival of the risotto and the arrival of the toothfish (see first pic).
The delay was only half the problem; the other half was the food itself. The toothfish portion was tiny, and covered in sweet goo - "caramelised", said the menu. What does toothfish taste like? I have no idea. All I remember is a lot of sugar, with a hint of fish. The texture of the fish (firm, flaky and moist) was wonderful, and promised great things, but it was impossible to get past the sweet goo. I tried to scrape it off, without success - whoever had assembled this dish was determined that we wouldn’t get past the sugar.
And how is it possible that a top-class kitchen can’t cook potatoes? They were overcooked, dry and tasteless. It was as if they had run out of potatoes, and had quickly borrowed a batch from a nearby student canteen. They reminded me of potatoes at a conference or a wedding reception.
By the time we finished the toothfish, we'd spent over two hours in the place, so we didn't feel like hanging around for sweets or coffee. I was also a bit hungry. We had declined the bread and butter offered at the start, thinking that seven courses would more than fill us up. It turned out not to be the case. So after a very promising start, we walked away a bit annoyed.
Oh well, there's always a next time, I tell myself. One day I'll find a toothfish that's allowed to taste like toothfish. If I save up enough money, I'll definitely head back to the Fish House, but I'll know to avoid anything labelled "caramelised", and to avoid the potatoes.
We really liked it but were surprised at some unexpected faults. The service is very good, they’ve found the professional staff that no-one else on the Gold Coast can find.
OverallIf you’re on the Gold Coast and you like seafood, this is one place you should really check out if you have the budget. Make sure you book, because it’s always full. The dress code is strictly smart casual (no board shorts, singlets or swimwear).
Find it atThe Fish House
50 Goodwin Terrace
4220 QLD Australia
Phone: +61 7 5535