Jackie McMillan
28th Jan 2024

The server gives the whole roasted John Dory on the bone ($70) a big rap, talking us down from the ledge where we were debating adding a grilled Margra lamb rib ($10/each) apiece just so we can do it justice. I’m salivating, picturing the impending whole fish, nose and spiky dorsal fins protruding from the edge of the plate. The resulting dish was more modest: a beheaded torso draped in charred snake beans in a brown lake of XO. While it was ridiculously tasty it didn’t quite live up to my imagination (or the price). 

We’re at Longshore for my dining companion’s birthday, seated just one table over from a previous version of us celebrating the same event back when the space was Automata. While seagrass matting has turned the walls into the floor of a coastal shack, the bones of Automata remain, making it hard not to draw comparison. Longshore is less fancy than Automata. Chef Jarrod Walsh’s (Hartsyard) vision is more about honouring seafood in the manner of Stephen Hodges (Fishface) and Hodges’ now more famous alumni, Josh Niland (Saint Peter). Across Wagonga Inlet oysters ($42/6), plump pickled Jervis Bay mussels ($$24/6) and split, grilled Skull Island prawns ($21/each), the respect for good produce is certainly there. Tiny red spot whiting fillets ($17) don’t make the grade: dry rather than silky and lost in the lake of “very good olive oil”. 

While the server giggled at our wine list cheat notes, they led us toward the 2021 Bacchus Family Wine Chardonnay ($95) which delivered a lot of wine at a not-too-eye-watering mark-up. The dry acid spine drove through our meal like a long straight road to the sea. Lemon and stone tangoed with tender slices of BBQ green lip abalone ($18/each), while a hint of biscuit emerged with black tiger prawn crudo ($30) the shells worked into prawn shell furikake. Longshore dishes are light on carbohydrates and the meal is sans of fine dining extras, from amuse bouche to pre-dessert, so you’re going to want rye bread ($10/2 slices). Arriving with a shell of umami-rich coastal butter involving seaweed and puffed buckwheat, it’s good for mopping up. Get the lamb rib too, no matter what anybody says.