Chris Carroll was never much of an artist. As a boy pretty much all he could draw was fish, including three fish intertwined into what looks like an aquatic love triangle. That doodle is now the logo for his Three Fish Restaurant, one block back from the Cronulla Beach shoreline.
While he may not be great with a pencil in his hand, one thing he was, and still is, adept at is cooking. It's also a passion that has shaped his life for a couple of generations.
Having served his apprenticeship over 40 years ago at Jonah's overlooking Whale Beach (no, I couldn't believe it's been there that long either), Chris and his wife Maryanne then ran Christies at Kogarah Bay. In the process they elevated that restaurant to a 2 Hats rating from the Sydney Good Food Guide. A couple of other long term ventures at Cronulla's Royal Motor Yacht Club and Kareela Golf Club filled in the next phase of their lives until recently, when they identified a missing link back down by the beach in Cronulla.
With an onshore wind you can smell the salt in the air in this neighbourhood, yet not a single fish grill was to be found. Enter The Three Fish.
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All wonderful qualities but what about the food? No prizes for guessing what dominates the mains. Of the regular items The Three Fish Pie is a perennial crowd favourite, but if you happen down here in winter, try the Catalan Seafood Stew. Think the texture of cassoulet but replace the duck and beans with seafood and almonds in a hearty tomato sauce. Perfect with a touch of sourdough dunking.
The menu changes regularly and the blackboard specials reflect the daily "catch" at Sydney's Fish Market.
Diehard carnivores won't be left out in the cold either. A New York cut sirloin is a standard and the daily special will invariably hold something else of interest. Todd out in the kitchen has now experimented with finger licking lamb ribs, including a personal creation that will reboot your concept of barbecue sauce.
Todd is the main man over the grill these days, although Chris is a constant lurking over the shoulders. He doesn't need to get his hands too dirty in contemporary times, one of the benefits of seniority in the restaurant game.
The wine list is tight, just a half dozen of each colour plus a few bottles with bubbles to go with the oysters. Small but ideally complimenting the menu.
For many locals, The Three Fish Restaurant is now their favourite foodie stop in Cronulla. Subtle, uncomplicated cuisine that is edgy without trying to reinvent the wheel. Couple that with smooth management and a buzzing ambience, The Three Fish warrants a drive down to The Shire.