Editor Eats - THA FISH

It will be difficult to disguise the fact that Tha Fish is one of my favourite restaurants in FNQ. The service, menu, consistency and award suite put them amongst the best of the best for the region. Created by Caz and Sheldon, this epitome of restaurantiness opened almost 20 years ago and has been firing on all cylinders since then. It coincidentally was one of the first restaurants I ate in when arriving in Cairns. It would be easy to end my review right here, with the simple motif of “go now, you will enjoy it”, but that would be unfair, not to the reader but to the place itself. The first dining caveat is the restaurant is always busy, if you plan to go there at a peak time make a booking.  

The menu is exemplary and regular specials are well thought out often reflecting seasonality and local availability. On a recent visit I was lucky enough to be served seaweed gnocchi with the subtlety of miso bouncing around the richness of butter and the elegantly light seafood flavours from the crab. The flavour blending at its best, worthy of something with a Michelin star over the door. But all this in a small vibrant local restaurant overlooking a quaint marina in a barely metropolitan city. It is often said success is in the detail, and that is doubly true in hospitality. The interplay of a wine list and menu is one such detail that is often overlooked. The gnocchi dish paired beautifully with a regional Pinot-Gris, better still it was the recommendation of the waiter. For those of you familiar with the place you will no doubt be aware that Sheldon is no longer in the driving seat, ill health keeping him from the heavy demands from the kitchen. His influence however, can be felt, and by all accounts he is regularly consulted, leveraging his huge bucket of knowledge to guide and shape the menu of regular specials.  Tha Fish, as its name implies, is a seafood restaurant. But with typical Far North aplomb it does forcefully push that point home. Not only does it cater to the non-pescitarean, it also provides levels of seafood immersion from entry level to grand master. The humble fish and chips, with golden fries and a light tempura batter, act as a gateway to whole grilled Barramundi or pan fried reef fish. The team is held together by the inimitable Caz, and, in justifiably increasing proportion, Bondy, the doyenne of the front of house. Any visit will be punctuated by one of his amazing shirts. They are loud, but free of profanity, and it is said that regulars can tell the day of the week by the patterns. This restaurant is a cut above and should be on the circuit for anyone with even a passing interest in seafood, or just good food.  The lunch menu starts from around twenty bucks making the whole experience accessible to most everyone. 


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