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Braddon’s latest foodie catch

Emma Macdonald

Something fishy is going on in Lonsdale Street, Braddon.

And we have trawled our contacts and cast out our nets in order to hook you a scoop.

OK, enough with the fishing analogies.

Yes, it’s a fish and chip shop. That much was obvious from the hoardings outside. But this new venture – the brainchild of hospitality entrepreneur Socrates Kochinos – promises to be so much more than that.

The stalwart Canberran behind iconic eateries including Belluci’s, Public, Urban Pantry, Me & Mrs Jones and Suburban, has focused his energies on reversing a common complaint about Canberra – that it doesn’t do good seafood.

With his slogan being “Reeling the ocean closer to our city,” Socrates has named his new venture Catch. And it is due to open in spring.

Having most recently transformed an old Lonsdale Street mechanics shop front into the bustling 50’s-inspired burger joint Grease Monkey, Socrates is using the other side of his prime real estate block on the corner of Eloura Street to reinvent the humble fish and chip shop.

“I’ve kind of come full circle, doing restaurants and cafes and now coming back to where I started which was in my family’s shop, the Melba Takeaway,” he says.

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Socrates Kochinos in his new Braddon seafood venture Catch.

Those who know Socrates and his trademark enthusiasm and obsession for detail will understand this will be far from a simple suburban takeaway.

With a rustic boat shed exterior masking a clean, white-tiled and concrete-floored fish market interior, Catch will provide both an eat-in and takeaway experience.

Socrates is on a mission to deliver quality seafood to the city in a variety of ways that will keep all of us happy. For one thing, the fish will all be sustainable and wild-caught as far as possible.

Selecting suppliers from Sydney and the South Coast who are certified to have a minimal impact on the ocean environment, Catch will receive daily deliveries of a selection of species of fish including Salmon, Barramundi, Flathead, Hake, Grenadier and Ocean Perch.This selection will also reflect seasonal availability.

This selection will also reflect seasonal availability.

You choose whether to have your fish battered, crumbed or grilled. You then choose your sides from a range of salads and hand-cut chips.

Orders are packed in funky cardboard buckets and fish boxes, custom-designed by Socrates’ daughter Sophia, with an air vent to ensure any crispy bits stay that way on the drive home.

Everything will be made on the premises – from the tartar sauce to the marinades for fish that can be taken home for a little inspired cooking.

But in a move that is going to have many keen for a seat, Catch will also have a liquor licence – meaning you can stop by for a glass of champagne to go with your plate of freshly-shucked South Coast oysters, or a chilled sauvignon to accompany your platter of prawns.

A glass display will showcase fresh varietal seafood on ice – all of which can be cooked and consumed on site, or taken home for later.

Opening up a large 80-seat capacity courtyard between Catch and Grease Monkey, Socrates has plans for lazy weekend barbecues, where chefs will cook a range of specialties to send delicious aromas across the grassed expanse. And you can leave it to the experts while you sip on a Capital Brewing Coast Ale on tap and wait for the grill marks to develop.

And if the seafood doesn’t entice you, how about some 70’s classics or Chiko rolls, corn jacks, potato scallops, dim sims or pineapple fritters – all chased down with an ice-cream sandwich for dessert.

“I’ve been obsessing about every detail of this project for nearly two years now. I am just so excited to see it come together,” Socrates says.

Choosing a bright white and blue colour scheme reminiscent of an old Greek fishing village, Socrates also has a plan to help Catch stand out from the competition on Lonsdale Street, but that under wraps while it goes through the planning process. Let’s just say it is going to be hard to miss this bustling corner of the street.

“I love Canberra. And I am going to stay here forever. I want to help make it the most vibrant and successful national capital that it can be,” Socrates declares with his trademark conviction.

“I want to create a place that the locals love, but which also shows the rest of the country exactly what this city is capable of.”

“For so many years people have said, ‘oh you don’t order seafood in Canberra’, well, I am going to change all that.”

Bring on the spring.

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Emma Macdonald

Emma Macdonald has been writing about Canberra and its people for more than 20 years, winning numerous awards for her journalism - including a Walkley or two - along the way. Canberra born and bred, she’s fiercely loyal to the city, tribally inner-north, and relieved the rest of the country is finally recognising Canberra’s cool and creative credentials. More about the Author

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