Hunky Dory is a relatively new fish and burger bar in South Yarra. Its owner, Greg Robatis, also runs its highly successful sister restaurant in Port Melbourne and has a background in commercial fishing.
My first experience of Hunky Dory was on a pleasant summer afternoon. My date had bailed on me, so I was accompanied by the next readily available unemployed person: my little brother.
Upon arriving I was immediately impressed by the spacious outside seating area. The pavement in front of the shop was decked out with a dozen large wooden tables and received ample sunlight all throughout afternoon, making it the perfect spot for a lazy summer bite. Pot plants on the end of each table also added a nice touch.
Inside the dÈcor was simple yet tasteful, with hues of blue and white suiting the restaurant’s theme. A long glass case displayed the fresh produce on offer and a long panel overhead set out the menu, reminding one that Hunky Dory is, essentially, a modern revamp of the time-honoured fish-and-chip shop.
Due to its location, Hunky Dory enjoys an eclectic mix of clientele, and on this day it was bustling with Chapel St fashionistas, suit-clad power lunchers and young couples. Despite this, seating was readily available, and service was quick and attentive.
The menu itself was expansive, mixing fish-and-chip-shop favourites (flake, dim sims, potato cakes) with more sophisticated offerings (grilled fillet marinated “African Style” with chermoula spices and lemon).
As my brother and I were both somewhat hungover from St Kilda Festival revelry the night before, we went for the more traditional options. He ordered the “Hunky Dory Special,” with the fish of the day, a potato cake, dim sim, chips, lemon and tartare and I ordered the “Ocean’s Eleven” with king prawns, fish bites, calamari rings, a potato cake, seafood sticks, chips, lemon and tartare.
Such dishes are the staple of any fish and chip shop worth its salt, and to their credit, Hunky Dory do them very well. The fish was cooked to perfection and tasted fresh and flavoursome. The chips were also excellent, golden and crispy with a fluffy potato filling. Particularly delectable were the king prawns – covered in a light salty batter but still juicy and bursting with flavour on the inside. Both plates were accompanied by Hunky Dory’s own tartare sauce, which provided a tangy and delicious supplement to the meal. Everything at Hunky Dory is cooked with heart foundation tick approved oil, meaning that nowhere was the heavy, bloated feeling one often experiences after a visit to the local chip shop. Also, serving sizes were very generous, making them great value for money.
While these salty, crispy dishes were excellent, it should be noted that Hunky Dory also emphasises healthier variations of traditional fish and chip shop classics. Indeed, casting an eye around the restaurants cool interior I noticed that majority of the patrons, unlike myself and my seedy companion, had gone for the wholesome options – particular scrumptious looking was the chargrilled calamari served on Greek salad with brown rice.
Healthier fish and chips is a concept that evidently works well, and the popularity of the Port Melbourne restaurant is clearly a testament to this. Importantly, all produce comes from local fisherman and is delivered fresh on a daily basis. Robatis’ connections with the commercial fishing world evidently help him source out the best Melbourne’s fishing industry has to offer and Hunky Dory is all the better for it.
Overall Hunky Dory is an unpretentious, breezy and tasty experience, and a great new addition to the river end of Chapel St.
BY HARRISON OTTAWAY
Shop 17, 670 Chapel St
South Yarra VIC 3141
Ph: 9826 6875