Monday, 7 May 2012
Fish Depot Toowoomba
We have only just got back from a whirl wind four day Food Trek to Melbourne and are maddly putting together the first reviews in our Melbourne series. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss out on the fun. In the mean time here is another of our Darling Downs reviews, this time from Toowoomba.
We all have our little guilty pleasures when it comes to food, and mine is not chocolate but crumbed calamari rings. Yes this delicious treat comes in all shapes, sizes and quality depending on where you get it. As a rule it’s nearly impossible to find really nice calamari at take away eateries because they are usually stringy and tough and soaking in oil but I live in hope and keep persisting. That's the nature of a calamari addiction.
In late 2010 a lovely family opened a Fish Depot shop at the Red Edge Centre on James Street in Toowoomba. Their business is to get these shops up and running, sell the shop and do it all again in another area. They are very smart people because not only are they savy about business, but they are expert on the art of cooking seafood.
The shop offers the usual fishy and chippy delights as well as a range of fresh seafood they bring up from Brisbane. A friend had to convince me to try the calamari because I was very sceptical. I’ve been disappointed many times but I went along with him and bought some. The price is 6 pieces for $5.00 or 12 pieces for $9.50. I tore open the paper to reveal six massive calamari rings, fried golden brown in clean oil, lightly sprinkled with sea salt and sitting on a pile of potato chips that were thrown in for free.
The first thing you think of when you see huge Calamari like this is it’s going to be tough, but to my surprise it was tender and delicious. My heart was racing with excitement (yeah I know, over some calamari but I’m weird). The calamari was flash fried to perfection, every bite. I was delirious with joy to have found such wonderfully cooked fresh seafood so far from the sea.
After about six months the shop had built quite a good reputation and trade was booming. The place was packed every lunch time by workers from the surrounding industrial area and the hospital precinct. The time was right for the owners to sell up and move on. During the hand over to the new people everything was at its usual good quality but it began to slip a couple of months after the new people flew solo.
The first thing we noticed was the handful of free chips that accompanied every calamari order had disappeared. Then the calamari began to be over cooked. The tender delicious morsels were now chewy and tasteless. The crumb coating was dark brown and even showed signs that the oil wasn’t being changed as regularly as it should be. My heart was broken.
I know the owners could argue the point, saying they did this and they did that but the proof is in the eating, and until my spies in the area report back to say the fry cook had finally learned how to do great seafood justice, I won’t be dropping in for my occasional treat.
It’s not all bad though. The fish depot at the Red Edge still sell good quality fresh seafood and put out quite a good burger with the works for only $8.50. Their sandwiches and freshly made salads are worth trying as well. So, I continue to keep an eye out for good calamari and lament the loss of something special. I still have my memories and that’s something, isn’t it?