Since opening last year, WIldfish seafood restaurant in the tiny south Gippsland town of Port Albert has received a lot of attention. The initial Age review was positive, but the subsequent Epicure one was less forgiving. An article in the Weekly Times provides more background information. Reviews from bloggers have also been mixed. Masticator’s digest reports on excellent seafood but confused service and poor coffee. Epicureal epiphanies discusses wonderful fish and chips but slow service.
I really like the interior of Wildfish. The white walls, concrete floor and solid timber furniture are simple but effective and the room benefits from light coming in from three sides.
My companion and I have different priorities. I usually like an entree and main, and will risk being too full for dessert. She plans on dessert and main and may have an entree if she’s particularly hungry. So on this evening, I ate my entree of squid alone. Wildfish aims to serve mostly locally caught fresh seafood, and I don’t know the origins of the squid, but it was excellent.
The wine list is short but scores bonus points for having some local Gippsland wines and sourcing most of the rest from elsewhere in Victoria. We chose a bottle of the 2009 Murchison Viognier (Goulburn Valley), which was the perfect balance between sweet and dry with hints of apricots. Delicious and a fine companion to seafood.
The menu has changed significantly since the one published on the website (as of Monday 4 January 2010). My squid entree is not on the web menu, for example. One of the Wildfish staples, the flake and scallop pie (above), which my companion devoured, has changed vegetables from asparagus to broccolini.
My main is also not on the web menu. The snapper with lemon chermoula (above) was excellent, though of a slightly modest size for the price. The salad and chips were a disappointment. The salad was barely disguised supermarket bagged salad mix. When I say that the menu has changed, I really mean it has been simplified, as there are now several mains that come with chips and salad, rather than dish specific sides, and other dishes have been removed. Adding a bit of roasted capsicum as a garnish to a dish, which appeared in everything we ordered, is not enough to make it special.
We both chose the Wattle seed creme brulee for dessert (below), and it is sublime. The service was good throughout, but it was the night of new year’s day and the restaurant was full of bookings from tourists, so it should have been. My expectations were high and were not quite met by the experience, mainly because the menu I had read about and came to eat was not the menu I was presented with when I arrived.
The following night we had fish and chips from the adjoining outlet. The whiting and rock flathead were moist and delicious. Lifegames has some excellent photos of the fish and chips and wharf. Wildfish is worth trying, and it is evident that it is changing as it encounters new seasonal conditions relating to fish, staff and customers. I hope it continues to improve because it has potential.