I am an Australian freelance writer living in Adelaide.
Published November 5th 2011
Fish and chips on the beach go so well together. Yet at 6.30pm on a Saturday night after a 35 degree day, Glenelg beach and the surrounding grass areas were still packed. For fear of seagulls trying to steal our chips and the noise from all those people, we decide to get rid of plan a) with dinner on the beach and headed up to Jack's Fish Shack on Jetty Road.
There is lots of competition between the six or so seafood restaurants and take-away joints by the beach but Jack's was a full house by the time we left at 8.30pm. There was everyone from middle-aged couples to groups of friends and families with their children. The candle on each table made a nice, intimate setting for a relaxing dinner that followed.
We began with what was described on the menu as flatbread topped with cherry tomatoes, rocket and goat's cheese curd ($7). When my partner saw thick slices of sourdough garlic bread waft past us, he was wishing we'd chosen that. Yet when our flatbread came out, it wasn't quite flat but the same as the thick slices of garlic bread. Despite its misleading description, this imitation bruschetta was delicious. The cherry tomatoes were plump, the rocket fresh and goat's cheese soft. Drizzled over it was a sweet balsamic jam, which whet our appetite for the main meal.
We chose to share a seafood platter at $35 per person, minimum two people. Well I'm glad there were only two of us there because we polished it off without leaving feeling like one does on Christmas day. The waitress convinced us to have a side green salad too, which wasn't even offered on the menu but was fresh and tasty with red onion, rocket, lettuce, cherry tomatoes and olives. While our entrée came out within fifteen minutes, the main took a lot longer. Keeping us entertained though was the guy who I assume owns the place, who, when filling our glasses with tap water (they should just leave a jug at each table but perhaps like that personal touch) said, "I'm just refilling your vodka glass for you,". He also replenished our alcoholic drinks when he noticed they were empty and promised that our food wouldn't be much longer.
What arrived was a platter with four pieces of lobster (still in its shell), six prawns with their tails on, two pieces of snapper, a dozen tubes of squid and about 1/3rd of the plate had chips. The zingy, lemony tartar sauce in the middle was a winner and the chips were well, chips. What surprised me was that none of our fish was crumbed, battered or deep fried. My partner told me that was what the first seafood platter on offer was, which was why it was only $25 per person, two people minimum. I enjoyed our platter though because it felt healthy and didn't leave us feeling heavy from too much oil, salt and fat.
I felt this place to be a little overpriced for what we got but leasing a restaurant on Jetty Road mustn't come cheap, obvious by how many stores are vacant and for lease. It wouldn't be fair of me not to mention the décor of Jack's though which was fittingly seaside. Half the restaurant's walls were rows of wood while the other was painted, corrugated metal sheets, giving it the feel of a shack. A huge colourful, painted mural of the beach- sand, umbrellas and water- took centre stage on the wooden wall and you paid the waitress through a window, just as though you were ordering take away.
Overall, it was a satisfying meal with attentive staff in an air-conditioned shack. It was just sad that we had to leave the beach behind and drive back to our house in the suburbs.