Vanessa: We had heard rumblings about a fairly new entrant to the up and coming food scene in Zetland that was treating it’s diners to seafood dishes with an edge. Salmon & Bear is a casual eatery that has a real charm to it with its “wood-cabin” feel similar to what you might expect to find in a Rocky Mountains chalet.
The brain child of Chef Mark Jensen ( co-owner of Red Lantern) and partners Joel Kapz and Joe Ward, Salmon & Bear is inspiring the minds of its diners to think more broadly about the possibilities of what casual seafood dining can be. Whilst the traditional fish and chips are on the menu, Chef Jensen has created a menu that goes beyond and has come up with some really creative dishes.
Team FFS along with Mr M recently experienced the menu at Salmon & Bear. We arrived at around 2.30pm on a Saturday afternoon and were seated outside to enjoy the sunshine. We were greeted by Dan, the manager, who talked us through some of the menu favourites. It was great to see the menu offers a wide variety from your traditional fish and chips to the “so hot right now” Poke.
As there were four of us dining we were able to sample a good cross-section of the menu and some clear favourites emerged.
It should be noted that the restaurant has invested in a Mibrasa that has been transported from Spain. The Mirbasa is a large coal-fired oven that adds a wonderful depth of flavour to the seafood cooked over the charcoals.
We got our lunching underway with a serve of the salt and pepper calamari with a ponzu dipping sauce ($14) . This definitely set a very high standard as we were all wowed by the flavour and texture of the calamari. Never have I tried such a perfectly crunchy batter encasing such tender morsels of squid. The seasoning of garlic, chill and shallots lent itself to Asian flavours and was absolutely delicious. 10 points for this dish, it had us all wanting more!
Knowing that only Mr M had ordered fish cooked in the Mibrasa, the lovely Dan brought us out a piece of the swordfish to try. Just tasting the fish on its own, with no condiments or sides, really allowed us to experience the outcome of cooking the fish over charcoals. The swordfish was so juicy and tender with that charcoal, bbq taste.
Our mains arrived at the table and they all look vibrant and fresh. I had ordered the salmon poke ($21) which is a traditional Hawaiian style sushi salmon. A very large portion of raw cured salmon served with soy and sesame sauce, corn salsa and avocado on a bed of coconut rice. I thought this was a delicious dish that was reminiscent of a deconstructed sushi roll. The salmon was fresh and there was a lot of it. I believe this is an ambitious dish for one person and would probably even recommend sharing it between two as the salmon gets a little rich after a while.
Mr M opted to go for a Grizzly Plate ($28) that allows you to choose your fish, your sauce and any two salads/sides. This is a great way to really experience the flavours of the fish cooked in the Mibrasa. Mr. M chose the blue-eyed cod with a lemon and herb butter sauce and a side of chive mash. The fish was cooked perfectly, faultless in fact, and was well complemented by the sauce. The mash was creamy, delicious and worked well an accompaniment to the fish.
The Burger Queen, Bianca, couldn’t go past the crispy fish burger($15) served with fries or sweet potato fries. Served on multi seed bun, the fish was flakey and encased in a golden, crispy batter. Overall Bianca enjoyed it but I believe she may have been hoping for a taste that was more akin to a ‘fillet o fish’, perhaps more of the creamier sauce would have elevated the burger. The sweet potato chips were chunky and a great alternative to regular fries.
Alex chose to try all three tacos ($6 each) ranging from crispy prawn and corn, that had a bitey flavour to the sticky soy glazed salmon which he very much enjoyed. The crispy fish taco was probably his least favourite mainly because the fish was quite oily. Overall, he enjoyed the tacos but I sensed an element of food envy (the worst kind of envy!), perhaps because the tacos weren’t overly substantial.
Luckily we left a little room for dessert so we were able to experience the current collaboration. The “Bear Treats” by Gelato Messina $7 is the ‘Strawberry Salmon’ a deliciously creamy strawberry flavoured ice-cream with a strawberry chocolate shell, and the ‘Chocolate bear’, a creamy ice-cream sandwich. Great way to round of the meal and as per usual Messina knocked it out of the park. The desserts are also in keeping with the causal setting of the eatery.
Salmon & Bear is a great go-to option for those looking for a casual dining spot that offers delicious seafood at very affordable prices. It’s an ideal spot for the locals and being in such a densely populated area, I’m sure word has/will spread quickly . We aren’t local, but it was definitely worth the drive!
Photos by Alex
*ForFoodsSake dined as guests of Salmon & Bear. All opinions however are our own. Special thanks to Dan for such great service and Clive for arranging our visit.