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Chef Josh Niland to open his first restaurant: Saint Peter

Josh Niland

Josh Niland

The young chef, who has worked under the finest fish whisperer in the business, will open a seafood restaurant in Sydney's Paddington.

Chef Josh Niland, late of Café Nice, wants you to eat more seafood. And come September, when he opens Saint Peter, a 34-seater seafood restaurant in Sydney's Paddington, he's sure to make it easy for you.

"I've worked with guys who've been very good fish cooks," says the 27-year-old chef. "Once you work for someone like Steve Hodges [chef-owner of the now-defunct Fish Face], it's hard to not feel passionate about it. Fish is the one protein we wish we could eat more of."

Niland was making a name for himself even before he headed the kitchen at Café Nice (now Ananas Bar & Brasserie, after Fratelli Fresh sold to Urban Purveyor Group in April) during stints at the likes of Est and The Woods (also now closed) as well as Fish Face. Saint Peter is his first solo venture, with his wife, Julie, a former pastry chef at Sixpenny and Marque, as partner.

Saint Peter will focus on sustainably sourced, Australian-only seafood. "My dream is that people will say, 'Let's go out and eat fish tonight' the same way people feel like eating Italian or French," he says. "I want people to come two or three nights a week - on a Tuesday to try pearl perch with asparagus, and then on Thursday for dry-aged wild kingfish with salt-roasted celeriac or globe artichoke."

And there'll be fish and chips, with batter made using a mix of vodka, honey, rice flour and VB ("to keep it crisp and light"), while the fish could be anything from red mullet to black flathead or pink ling, depending on the best catch that day.

All the seafood will come in whole and be processed and dry-filleted on-site, and the restaurant will champion fish offal and various dry-ageing techniques. "Not everyone is going to eat fish liver, but that's because it's usually prepared in a way that doesn't suit an Australian context," he says. "I've cooked it before and it's fantastic. On toast it tastes like foie gras."

Sides won't be slouches either, with salt-roasted pumpkin with salt and vinegar seeds and scales, for instance, and grilled broccolini with flathead roe yoghurt.

The modest and all-Australian wine list will be 80 per cent white and will strive to balance the Henschkes with the Jaumas. Dessert will be strictly tarts - chocolate and artichoke tart, perhaps, or classic lemon.

Saint Peter will also open for all-day seafood brunch at the weekend with the likes of sea urchin crumpets, prawn and corn fritters and spanner crab omelettes on offer. "I grew up in Maitland and we'd go to Newcastle to have oysters for breakfast," he says. "Why can't you do it on Oxford Street?"

If the omelette is anything like the meli melo number he did at Café Nice, then Saint Peter will have us hook, line and sinker.

Saint Peter is slated to open early September.

Saint Peter, 362 Oxford St, Paddington, NSW, saintpeter.com.au

 

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