There are three drawcards to Swampdog. The first is the food, as the place makes the best darn fish and chips in Brisbane. The second is the eatery’s ethos, meaning that all the fish you devour is sustainably sourced. And the third drawcard is the atmosphere; sitting in the courtyard under a string of old-fashioned light bulbs is a great reminder that all the best things in life are simple and humble.    


The only restriction to this fish and chippery is the weather. You can sit inside, and you can take it home with you, but there’s nothing more relaxing than dinner in Swampdog’s courtyard, sipping a beer and eating really good seafood. So I recommend a night of clear skies. I also recommend the calamari, or the fish of the day, both of which are derived from sustainable fisheries and both of which are perfectly cooked. The accompanying chips come crisp and salty, and the tartare sauce and aioli are made on the premises. Or there’s the slightly less traditional approach to fish and chips, something like the Grilled Spearfish with Peach, Mint and Feta Salad, or the Whole Grilled Moses Perch with Ginger, Eschallots and Crispy Noodles. 

One of the puzzles to this place is the price. I’ve always been led to believe that seafood is really expensive, in whatever form, but if you order the basic fish and chips at Swampdog you are served a decent-sized meal and you’ll only pay around twelve to thirteen dollars. Add a cup of Swampdog’s homemade lemonade, which comes compliments of the place, and you have a great dinner for a reasonable price.

The family who established Swampdog formerly owned the well-regarded Brisbane restaurant Sprout. It seems as if their experience in the dining industry has allowed them to turn what was once a crappy suburban takeaway into a very popular dining venue. And, without meaning to diminish their success, it didn’t take too much, just some restaurant savvy and a bit of design awareness. They sourced old doors for tabletops, kind of kooky; gave the interior a unique paintjob; strung-up old light bulbs in a way that makes you feel you’re at a school fete; refused to use plastic cutlery and instead decided to provide bamboo-made equivalents. It means you feel good about eating, and you eat well. The perfect formula.

Be warned, though, that this place is growing in popularity, so you need to get in early. At the moment, tucked behind the famed Southbank restaurant precinct, Swampdog has yet to attract the hoards that enjoy Southbank’s pubs and resort-style pool. If the place is discovered by this seething mass, there won’t be a spare seat in the courtyard. Until then, enjoy the atmosphere and the decent pricing and not feel rushed.

Things to know if you decide to eat at Swampdog: you bring your own grog, but cups are provided; be sure to order Popcorn Prawns as they’re yum; you may have to share a table, but that just adds to the atmosphere; ice cream sandwiches are available in the freezer inside . . . just in case you’re still hungry.


By Kirril Shields.

Kirril Shields is the former English Editor of Mongolia's UB Post, but is now enjoying a more relaxed climate in Brisbane. He currently writes for a number of magazines to do with design and architecture. 


18 March 2013
Swampdog Fish and Chips
186 Vulture Street South Brisbane 4101 QLD
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