Here was the dilemma: I wanted to meet friends for lunch. There would be four kids as it was the middle of school holidays. It was hot. The kids are fussy eaters. And I wanted them to entertain themselves so we could actually enjoy our meal.
And the solution: Clancy's Fish Pub in Fremantle.
I have written previously about taking kids to Clancy's in City Beach and while it was ok, it wasn't the great solution I had hoped it would be. So when a friend suggested the Freo option instead, I wasn't overly optimistic.
Turns out Clancy's in Freo is entirely different. Instead of the overwhelming nautical decorations stuck onto every surface – nets, starfish, buoys, fish – found at City Beach, at the Freo restaurant, the fishiness is more restrained – confined to actual real-life fish in a tank near the door, and some specimens screen printed onto the occasional cushion.
There is more space, the room is less bewildering (and the toilets are really nice) and there is an eclectic mix of old church pews, couches, bench seating and ordinary tables and chairs. There is a stage for live music nights. There are some inexplicable mannequins posing around the place. The double-sided bar takes centre-stage with two main dining rooms, plus al fresco dining both front and back. The tables out the back overlook an enormous park, great for kids to run around in, but not much else (ie there is no play equipment). Bring a cricket set.
For a fish-themed restaurant, there isn't a lot of fish on the menu, but there is enough to satisfy. You can choose from beer battered fish and chips ($21.50), crumbed or battered whiting ($26), Tasmanian salmon ($32) or grilled barramundi ($34). The 'fish four ways' special ($28) changes regularly: the day we visited it was sardines, Cajun barramundi, fresh oysters and smoked salmon.
Other seafood dishes include paella ($26.50), chilli mussels ($23) and a seafood platter for one ($33) or two people ($65). You can find seafood chowder ($23) or prawn puttanesca ($23) as well.
If you don't actually like seafood, don't fret as you can get a rump steak ($29), a chicken parmy ($27) or even a lamb saag curry ($20). There are a few things on the menu which aren't deep fried. Salads perhaps... I think.
Options for kids are limited and they're all deep fried: fish, calamari or chicken. Meals come with chips, a juice box and an icypole and are all $13.50.
For some reason, the prices at Clancy's Freo are cheaper than the City Beach restaurant: for example fried mice and deep fried feta fingers are both $9 in Freo but $12 in City Beach (and $9.50/$8.50 in Canning Bridge). The kids meals are cheaper at City Beach though, and include options which aren't deep fried.
To nibble on while we waited for the rest of the group we ordered the buttermilk battered onion rings with bourbon BBQ sauce and sour cream ($13). They were a guilty pleasure: absolutely enormous with the inside soft and sweet and the outside crispy.
I wasn't feeling very fishy so decided to choose two of the smaller dishes: the spicy corn fritters with coriander and chilli jam ($16) and feta finger with eggplant kasundi ($9). When they arrived, I realised I should have ordered only one dish. When I tasted them, I realised I should have just ordered the corn fritters.
Fried mice ($9) are deep fried battered jalepeno chillis, served with sour cream ($9), and yes, they're hot (you usually realise this by the second one).
The kids meals were fine: a small piece of fish and a small serve of chips with a bowl of tomato sauce. Even though you get a pop top juice and an icypole, they're probably not the best value kids meal around, but the kids were happy.
The staff are obviously very used to having kids around and they were brilliant at managing them, one telling them no icypole unless they eat all their fish, handing out paper and pencils and asking for pictures of fish. When the girls took their finished pieces up to show her, she ooh and ahhed appropriately and then stuck them up on the counter for everyone to see. Good stuff.
While it can't be as relaxed when the place is full and there are more adult punters than kids, during the week it was a great place for lunch as there was space and time for the kids to do their thing. We ended up staying for an extra hour, nursing a drink, as the kids ran around the park playing their games. And being in Freo, it is guaranteed to be a few degrees cooler than anywhere in Perth, so it makes it pretty poifect for a summer lunch in the school holidays.
$34 for grilled barramundi?? The same dish is $26 at the city beach one! Way cheaper than Freo then. Mybe do your research next time. We have eaten at City Beach Clancys sevreral times with kids and we love it, i would highly recommend it to anyone. The decor is quirky and beachy, just what you would expect from a beach side restaurant renowned for its sunsets.