Food review: The Inky Squid

Shop 5, 2-14 Henry Lawson Drive,Terranora Ph: 0467 069 012

I’ve fallen in love with the sea again, that mother of all things salty and succulent. It’s a slow burn, this love affair, our household gently veering towards pescatarianism.

At the newly-refurbished Pavilions Marketplace, The Inky Squid Fish & Chippery is beached on the mountaintop, a few steps from sea views. It’s there that we find a new love.

The Inky Squid opened in April 2018, a cute little shop with ‘fish scale’ tiles and large timber bi-folds looking out on a communal dining pavilion. Owned by restaurateurs Jessica Price and Ben Jones (ex-Gwinganna and Taverna), the couple say that the product drove the concept.

Having the dual role of selling freshly prepared seafood-based meals as well as fresh seafood to go, it’s Jess’s friendly service and Ben’s connection to suppliers that are essential to the shop.

Ben can’t speak highly enough of Northern Rivers Seafood, Ballina, who text through each night’s catch, delivered in time for start of trade each day. From dory bites and panko-crumbed prawns through to grilled goldband snapper, there’s a range of fish to choose from, the cabinet full of the night’s catch of blue eye trevalla, flathead, whiting or jewfish, premium fresh Cone Bay barra as well as freshly cooked bugs and prawns; sparklingly fresh Aussie seafood to take home by the piece or for Ben to cook ‘your way’. Using a mix of cholesterol-free cottonseed and sunflower oil, Ben gives due respect to the fish (and also to GF and coeliac diners whose meals are cooked in a separate fryer).

Making as much as he can in house, such as his own lemon pepper and mint, coconut and soy dressing for the tempura oysters (or grilled fish), Ben sources everything else locally from artisanal producers: fruit and veg from the Tweed Valley Fruit Exchange, Byron Bay Mozzarella Co’s haloumi drizzled with Tropical Fruit World’s lemon myrtle syrup ($12), chicken from Jack Spratt’s spiced up with harissa and served with cumin-yoghurt on a burger, and whole egg organic mayo and tartare served with seafood and local non-alcoholic bushfood-infused Sobah beer on tap. Top stuff!

My love song today, however, is to seaweed. More than just flotsam washed up on the seashore, seaweed is more nutritionally dense than any land-grown vegetable, a treasure chest of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals…and who would have thought it could be so delicious! It’s Ben’s ‘pièce de resistance’. Set against the softly yielding squid, the sheets of fried seaweed crack, brittle to the bite, their salty goodness speaking loudly of their mother, the sea.

And, in that moment, I know that we will travel up that hill again, through rain or shine, just to enjoy that unique dish. Yes, the fish is sensational. But the seaweed’s a revelation. Salut, chef!

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NOTE: Blank dined as a guest of The Inky Squid.

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