October 17, 2012, marks the ten year anniversary of Garfish Kirribilli. The time has gone quickly and we would like to share some key moments with you, our valued clientele.

To celebrate, we’ll be transporting you back a decade and offering our well-known and much-loved Fish and Chips dish at the 2002 price of only $17 (usually $25.50), for the month of October.

The beginnings – an opportunity for fresh fish at reasonable prices

The Garfish concept was born while we operated Milsons and Jaspers restaurants in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. At the turn of the millennium there were only a couple of fine dining restaurants (Pier and The Boathouse @ Blackwattle Bay) specialising in fish and just a few eateries like Jordan’s and Doyle’s in the mid-market, plus the ubiquitous fish and chip shop.

We wanted to create a mid-market restaurant specialising in the absolute freshest fish served at reasonable prices. Our first menu in 2002 had nothing over $23 on the printed list and nothing over $28 on the specials board. Some prices back then were: oysters @ $2.50 ea, fish & chips @ $17.00, a bowl of mash @ $6.00, Blue Eye Cod @ $22.00 and a flat white coffee @ $3.00.

Experienced staff with a passion for fish

(L-R) Mark Scanlan, Garfish founder; Stewart Wallace, Executive Chef; Mark Dickey, Garfish founder.

Head Chef, Damian Heads (SMH Good Food Guide 2003 winner of Best Young Chef and also of Ready Steady cook fame), was our inaugural head chef. He was supported by Brett Stephens, who had successfully run the up-market fish and chip shop called Fishbowl in Rozelle

Operating seven days for breakfast, lunch and dinner brought many challenges to both the kitchen and front of house. We were fortunate in securing the services of restaurant manager, Jenni Heads, who later married Damian. Jenni is a true hospitality professional and a believer in ‘organisation, professionalism, dedication and training’. She steered the ship at Garfish for four years before starting her family.

Stewart Wallace joined as Executive chef in 2004 coinciding with the launch of our Crow’s Nest Garfish. It was at this time that our past Milsons manager, Carole Dunn, also came on board the Garfish team. Jacqui Gowan, another Ready Steady cook, was our head chef from Feb ‘05 through Aug ‘07.

Other key employees over the years who have contributed are: head chefs Steve Hickman, Chris Lowe and Matt Lightowler. Some managers, apart from Jenni that our customers may remember are Sam Johnstone, Simon McInerney, Mark Ennor and our current manager, Kunal Verma.

Setting the standard for seafood restaurants in the area

Garfish obtained our first favourable review several weeks after opening, by Matthew Evans, the SMH reviewer of the day. Since then, Garfish has featured in the SMH’s Good Food Guide every year, bar one, during the last decade.

Kirribilli was the first restaurant in the area to obtain an outdoor seating permit and it proved very popular. In September 2004, we won the Restaurant & Catering NSW award for “Best Sydney Informal Seafood Restaurant” and over the years we have also received numerous Community Business Awards. We were the first restaurant in Australia to be “Certified and Accredited” by the National Restaurant & Catering Association.

In recent years, we’ve been awarded the title of Australia’s Best Seafood Restaurant (2011) and winner of Informal Seafood Restaurant several years running in the Savour Australia Restaurant and Catering Awards for Excellence. And just recently, Garfish founders, Mark Scanlan and Mark Dickey, were awarded Restaurateur of the Year, at the Restaurant and Catering Savour Metro Awards 2012, held on Monday 24th September.

Some interesting facts and figures

Over the last ten years we have served:

  • Over 270,000 oysters
  • 32,600 entree portions of Salt & Chilli Squid
  • 46,000 portions of beer battered fish and chips
  • Poached eggs have been our most popular breakfast dish, with over 24,000 serves
  • Plus, we have plated 14,000 ‘Garfish Big Breakfasts’
  • Our customers have consumed almost 20,000 spinach & beetroot salads
  • And only 15,000 sides of chips (Kirribillian’s must watch their diets)
  • In total, we have served well over half a million patrons at lunch and dinner

During the running of Garfish Kirribilli over the last decade:

  • We have employed 720 staff, many of whom have gone on to be successful chefs and managers in other restaurant businesses
  • We have spent $270,000 on Brasserie Breads, and
  • Over $2.1m on fresh fish, and
  • $222,000 on Prawns and scallops,
  • And a paltry $180,000 on red meat
  • Coffee beans have cost $216,720
  • Electricity has set us back $275,000 (what will the figure be over the next 10 years?)
  • And Work Cover Insurance another $256,000

We hope along the way that you, our valued customers, have enjoyed your Garfish experiences and that you will continue to patronise our restaurant over the coming years.

Mark Dickey, Mark Scanlan and the Garfish team.