What smells like fish and rhymes with "punt"? Why, Rex Hunt, of course. Australia's favourite fish-kisser/footy commentator/street brawler has a gnarled finger in many fishy pies, and it seems that if there's a dollar to be made Rex will not hesitate to stick his rod in, often in conjunction with aforementioned gnarled finger. (And you thought this was a classy establishment.) One of Rex's crowning achievements is his Port Melbourne fish 'n' chippery, D'Lish Fish, where the sights, smells and oily ambience of a suburban fish 'n' chip shop are painstakingly recreated for the benefit of snooty locals who would not be seen dead in a suburban fish 'n' chip shop.
The key to this kind of thing is to make the experience as "authentic" as possible while never ceasing to remind patrons of the inherent faux-ness of the place. It is dining as theme-park experience, and D'Lish Fish pulls it off with aplomb. The decor is all formica benches and vinyl stools - as in seats, although the other sort of stool is present in the form of seagull shit, which drips like a Dali clock from several of the outdoor tables. From the hand-written menu (the hand in question being that of a professional sign-writer, rather than a chalk-weilding proprietor) to the open kitchen area, no effort has been spared in approximating a proper fish 'n' chip shop without deigning to actually become a proper fish 'n' chip shop. It's all surface, no substance. Some will see in this nothing to complain about. I, however, like my fish 'n' chip shops to have a bit of atmosphere in the air, a bit of honest grease on the walls. Oh, and a semi-derelict Street Fighter II arcade machine in the corner. D'Lish Fish doesn't even have pinball!
Then there are the meals. Wrapped in faux-newspaper (all the "stories" concern the exploits of one R. Hunt), the food does a good impression of hearty fare - until you start eating it. Then the chips are revealed as sub-standard, with more eyes than a bucket-full of jumping spiders. The fish itself is terrible, a sliver of pallid flesh encased in three inches of batter that appears to be flavoured with some kind of fish-extract in order to give the impression that you're getting what you paid for. The potato cakes aren't bad, but you're not there for potato cakes. You're there for fish, preferably fish that has been caught, kissed, and beaten to death by Rex himself. And what do you get? A travesty, that's what.
*Can you believe I actually used that title?