Four bucks for a mountain of hot, salty, grease-soaked fish and chips always seems like a grand idea at the time, but regret comes just as fast as those pesky seagulls do. We’d never advocate swearing off our national dish – that’s akin to treason – but there’s no harm in being selective about where one indulges in it.
You’d be hard-pressed to find renditions more delicious than those of Urchin and Amber’s, the new kid on the lane – Vulcan Lane, that is, tucked inside the historic Queens Ferry Hotel building. It may not be near a beach, but there’s a cute sun-soaked alfresco dining space and the blonde wood and fresh greenery lend its interior an endless summer vibe.
Both roomy and cosy, it’s a popular lunch spot for suits by day, with a repertoire of classic café dishes such as kahawai eggs bennie, ‘super-juices’, a cabinet brimming with freshly prepared sandwiches, and delicious Peoples Coffee (notably hard to find in the inner city). At 4pm, Urchin and Amber switches over to its dinner menu, with a range of scrumptious picks inspired by the Kiwi staple. We went for the panko-crumbed fish fingers, stuffed with meltingly fresh snapper and served with a generous dollop of homemade tartare sauce and hand-cut chips. The Sea Dog – which swaps out the sausage for a crabstick and the fried onions for slaw – comes highly recommended also. If you’re not into seafood, there’re burgers and salads to choose from too, and if they taste half as good as they sound, you’ll be a happy camper.
From 8pm, the little chameleon reportedly exudes more of a bar buzz, dimming the lights and serving up handcrafted cocktails and craft beers (don’t stress, the selection isn’t too obscure – you can still nurse a Sawmill).
Well worth a return visit, Urchin and Amber is a brilliant addition to this charming pocket of the city, and will only become more appealing as the mercury rises.