5 minutes with Jake Nicolson

Name: Jake Nicolson

Business and location: Blackbird Bar and Grill, Ghanem Group, Queensland

Can you share a happy fish and chip memory?

Growing up in Warrnambool, a fishing town in western Victoria, fish and chips was a weekly occurrence. It was often one of those thing to do after a week at school – get a piece of battered fish and a serve of minimum chips, which at that time was about 20c. Dad would get those crab sticks and we’d chose from Cod or Flake or King George Whiting and we’d sit on the bay feeding some seagulls.

Where have you eaten the best fish and chips?

I think the best fish and chips I’ve had was at the previous incarnation of Melbourne bayside restaurant ‘The Stokehouse’. They served some great King George Whiting and chips. It was more expensive than other options but well worth it.

In your business, what do you consider to be the best fish to use for fish & chips?

At Blackbird we buy whole Swordfish and cut it into loins. The belly, which has a higher fat content, is used in the bar. By turning the belly into something usable, it’s a sustainable option.

And how do customers enjoy it?

The signature dish in the restaurant is Swordfish loin with a thinly sliced sourdough crust. It is served with sea bananas and sea blite, both coastal plants.

The signature dish in the bar is a spicy-battered Swordfish belly with chickpea chips, served with a sweet and sour eggplant pickle and coriander yoghurt. It’s a Middle-Eastern influenced, more ‘posh’ fish and chips.

Do you have a personal favourite?

I like a nice piece of Cod grilled over a nice wood or coal fire, served with chips, lemon and tartare sauce.

What Australian wine (or other beverage) would you match with your fish & chips? 

At the bar we suggest a Chardonnay called Circe.

Personally, I like a cold beer with the Cod.

How long have you been making/serving fish & chips?

I’ve been cooking seafood for about 20 years. From working in a small town restaurant where we served frozen calamari rings to working with whole Bluefin Tuna and Swordfish.