Saturday, December 10, 2011

Western Australia's best fish and chips ... and a vist from The Doctor

One of the first things a visitor must do in Western Australia, my brother told me, is watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean. Preferably after partaking of fish and chips on the water's edge.

So on our first evening in WA, we decided to do both.

Luckily, the historic beachside city of Fremantle was just a 10 minute drive away from our accommodation at the Cottesloe Beach Chalets.

We'd expected it to be difficult to find a parking spot, since the city was hosting the Perth 2011-ISAF Sailing World Championships at the time, and the Esplanade Park was a public village hub for the event.

But no, we pulled up just outside the open air concert venue, where Grinspoon and INXS were performing later. And where, had we been sans kids and perhaps a little less exhausted, we may have lingered longer. Okay and a few years younger as well!

Instead we headed down to the harbour to the reputed home of Western Australia's best fish and chips, Cicerello's.

Established in 1903 - can you believe it? - Cicerello's is situated right on Fishing Boat Harbour - and was bustling even at 5 pm. (We'd decided to eat before sunset so we could all get an early night since we'd all had a big day and would front up for another one the next day. Besides, it was 7 pm in Queensland.)

Cicerello's menu is extensive and showcases the best seafood that can be caught in Freo's harbour. (See, I'm talking like a local now!).

Fish (of course), scallops, oysters, crabs and more.

Ordering is a little like an episode of Seinfeld.

You stand in line, grabbing drinks from a nearby fridge if you want one. Order, then pay, then you are given a buzzer to take to your table.

Meanwhile, the kids knock themselves out (not literally!) pressing their little faces up against the aquariums that are scattered around the restaurant, even in the toilets. Yes the toilets. (More on that later).

Grab children, who forget their reluctance to leave the sea creatures once they clock the delights of the harbour. Try to enjoy the view whilst getting up and down to ensure children do not fall into the harbour whilst exploring the piers, moorings and nearby boats, and lying down on the wooden floorboards to spy on the fish below.

Finding a table

Seriously, it was actually fabulous fun. The view was amazing and seeing the enjoyment through the childrens' eyes as they watched the boats come and go was truly wonderful.

There was none of the usual boredom or pestering to play on iphones whilst waiting for our meals to come.

Happy kids!

It was relaxing, kicking back, chatting and watching the kids explore. Plus, there was the most delightful, cooling breeze, which was such a contrast to the heat of the day.

"That's the doctor," my brother told me. The what? "The Fremantle Doctor," he said.

He went on to explain that The Fremantle Doctor is the WA term for the cooling afternoon sea breeze that rolls in from the sea during the summer months, due to the difference between the temperature of the land and the ocean.

It's believed to originate from the sea off Fremantle and it's called the doctor because it brings instant relief from the high summer temperatures like those we had experienced earlier in the day. Oooh, I liked this doctor very much!

But enough talk, our buzzer was buzzing, which meant our meals were ready. Back to the Seinfeld-like requirements. A minimum of two people are required to collect the meals. (I wonder what happens if there is only one of you, hmm? Shh, I'm just making trouble). And then you can collect sauces, vinegar, salt, pepper and anything else that takes your fancy on the way back to your table.

The food was delicious and we wasted no time tucking in.

I went for garlic prawns with crispy potatos and salad. Drool.

Mr 10 usually loves fresh fish, but this time chose a ham and pineapple pizza which he said was delicious!

Miss 8 and her cousin shared a plate of calamari and chips. So cute!

Big brother opted for the tasting platter, which looked divine. I did think there might be some sharing going on, but then I only half-heartedly offered my prawns around before greedily finishing them all.

After dinner, the kids needed to check out the toilets. I don't think they actually need to use the toilets, they just wanted to check out the fish tanks leading to the loos and inside the facilities.

The aquarium outside the ladies' loos. All the aquariums' creatures are sourced from the harbour.

A seahorse inside the aquarium at the entrance to the men's loos. Miss 8 was incensed at the injustice of it all.
"Why do the boys' get the seahorses and the boys don't," she raged. "It's not fair."
Apparently the boys get an extra tank inside the facility too.
Cicerello's? Please explain.

Another aquarium and artwork in the foyer leading to the toilets. Hours of fun for the kids.

The view ...

Still to come ... The sunset

1 comment:

Mum on the Run said...

You're doing us sandgropers great justice!