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Fishmonger at it again

Fishmonger on East Road must be one of the capital’s most popular restaurants, almost always boasting a full car park. calamariFriday lunch saw it packed — with patrons spilling from the inside onto the covered verandah as well as the picnic tables in the garden. Opening from midday through dinner makes for a laid back ambience especially on a Friday when perhaps many people are not going back to work, (we certainly weren’t) and it is nice not to feel pressured to arrive before 1pm and know you won’t be chased out at 2.30pm.  Customers were still coming in as we were leaving close to 3pm and there were a couple of relaxed groups settling in for an afternoon at the bar.
With no obvious meeter and greeter, service was a bit slack and there was a lot of competition to grab the waitron’s attention. Waitron is the term in use at Fishmonger — sounds very robotic! But once we had ordered, food came pretty quickly and was very good.
Fishmonger specialises in ‘freshly sourced sea food and platters’ but offers a couple of chicken and beef entrees for non-fish eaters. Menu is not too long and complicated giving confidence that the choices are fresh and ingredients haven’t been hanging around in dark corners in the vain hope of being ordered.
We skipped starters — which range from a reasonable US$5 for calamari, to US$6 for grilled haloumi with lemon. The same for trinchado — Portuguese style beef cubes braised in a peri-peri sauce — and up to US$8 for tempura prawns, Portuguese sardines served with the traditional peppers or prawns au gratin (baked in a lemon cheese sauce).
Salads also look good — perhaps for a warmer season. I liked the sound of the greens with blue cheese and walnuts and have enjoyed before the very delicate seafood salad — prawn in rose marie sauce with avocado.
Essence is quick uncomplicated cooking with good flavours. For mains I opted for Cajun style calamari (US$13) served with rice. Calamari was juicy and tender, nicely spiced and served with lovely steamed rice, mildly flavoured with pepper and onion. I asked for extra chillie and got the Fishmonger’s bottled peri peri –  a bit pale and vinegary for my taste.  My son chose the Portuguese pan, a combo of prawns, mussels and calamari in a smooth peri-peri sauce rich with tomato. (good value at US$14)  Special of the day was kingklip – a more hefty US$25 — but it was melt-in-the-mouth delicious, pan fried in butter and capers.
Other menu mainstays are hake and chips (US$9), grilled prawns (US$3 each for queens, US$4 for kings) and a tempting sounding espetada (US$16) — prawns, linefish and calamari skewered with peppers and onions and grilled slowly in lemon butter. Platters look spectacular featuring combos of prawns, linefish and calamari — and range from US$19 for the Sailor’s platter to US$58 for the Captains — which I hope feeds at least two.
Having had no starter we indulged in dessert (all US$5). Loved the light granadilla cheesecake with a good texture and tart flavour. Dark chocolate mousse was sumptuous and very pretty, adorned with a couple of halved strawberries — though personally I could have done without the dollop of ice-cream. Sticky malva pudding also made a good finale to a winter lunch.
As always I checked out the website later and was impressed that this one is actually current — including latest menus, prices and up-to-date reviews. So few restaurants pay attention to this.  Fishmonger website is simple, accessible and easy — much like the restaurant itself. Easy to understand why many people make it a regular.