We weren’t very happy when Jimmy “the Fish” Gerard shut up shop in Ponsonby late last year: his Lion Red beer batter and gruff demeanour were the perfect antidote to Ponsonby Central’s hipster surrounds. So we rejoiced when he popped up in the back corner of the Grey Lynn Returned Services Club. There are families with kids, guys playing pool, men in high-vis.
He still does seafood, thank goodness: tarakihi when it’s fresh, pan-fried with caper butter and served with chips and a really good iceberg lettuce salad ($18) or in his aforementioned Lion Red beer batter ($15 adults, $10 kids). His fish pie, which is his mum’s recipe (the secret ingredient is – yes – tinned asparagus) you can dine in on for a tenner, or take home to heat yourself. Recently – and this isn’t said lightly – we ate just about the best gnocchi we’ve ever tasted: pan fried with a crisp edge but all softly-softly on the inside, with a browned sage butter and punctuated with salty, perfect prosciutto. It was $10. We also loved his polenta chips with mayo and salsa ($5) and his crayfish bisque ($5) – “It’s a soup,” says the blackboard menu.
It’s a rotating menu of whatever is good and available. Sometimes for pudding he’ll put on creme caramel; the other day we had beef cheek ragu with mash and broccoli ($18), and it was perfectly, meltingly, falling apart and rich, on mash that tasted homemade. One punter was taking his ragout home in plastic containers: when he asked for his broccoli, Jimmy handed him half a head raw. He was busy. DM
HOURS Dinner, Wednesday to Saturday.
ADDRESS Grey Lynn RSC, 1 Francis Street, Grey Lynn.
IMPORTANT DETAILS Cash only – though the bar will let you withdraw some. Also: it’s just Jimmy cooking, sometimes with a helper, so it can take a while.