Latest Developments , December 2014 - It is confirmed that the location of the Balgownie Fish Shop
is earmarked for construction of a residential building.
I had passed by this main strip in Balgownie Village several times and observed the queue of customers waiting patiently outside this modest and unassuming shop on sleepy Sunday afternoons.
The Balgownie Fish Shop offers mainly hamburgers and fish & chip combinations. Gen Y Craig from up the street at my place had told me recently that in his view, this was the best fish and chips in this region of the Illawarra. Wow, I had to try this, I thought, and when I did, it is indeed one of the best fish and chips I have tasted. Even if they are nearer the escarpment rather than by ocean side, one bite into the battered fish brings back memories of tender grills, newspaper wrappings and the aroma of the ocean. Yes, my fish and chips were served on paper, a detail which is very important. Yes, it is open every day, including Sundays till 7pm. The chips are rather better seen as wedges, thick, crispy, flavourful and a mouthful.
The inside of the shop is simple, harking back to the fifties, reminiscent of small towns, with a decor that is rather straight lined, with no seating or tables (except for a retro iron bench) and the compulsory drinks fridge. The customers feel relaxed and are casually dressed. Even the main door has a netted lattice that keeps flies and insects out and reminds me of doors to a food cupboard rather than for an entrance to a shop. The menu is neatly written in front of the counter. I am so glad to know that such a gem exists in my neighbourhood. A friendly elderly couple run the operations, and despite being busy, smile when having a conversation and otherwise concentrate on their work. Do allow some time when visiting this shop and the reward of the meal shall be yours. Apparently they have run this shop for umpteen years, obviously having seen children grow up to be adults, taking in the parade of residents and visitors. The best way to locate this place at 166 Balgownie Road is that it is across the road from the Bally Hotel (or Balgownie Hotel), and past the newsagent as you walk up slope. You can also phone in your orders, which are very reasonably priced.
My serving below - I consumed this after a passing heavy shower and when the sun unexpectedly broke through. Kids may note the bubble gum and lolly dispensers (above). After collecting your orders, head towards a park to eat.
My impressions of the Balgownie Fish Shop, ten minutes north of Wollongong CBD ( or five minutes down the Mount Ousley slopes on the highway from Sydney), are:
Taste: Melts in the mouth. Best with beer, soft drinks or just water.
People Engagement: Friendly elderly couple, with a throwback to 1964.
Service: Please wait for this experience, it is worthwhile.
Best Time to Visit: Early mid afternoon. Go in board shorts and thongs.
Fav Dish Experienced: Fish and chips. No sauces required.
Would I Return?: Oh ya.