The writing on the interior walls proclaims the Swampdog ethos: “We want to change the way you eat fish and chips.” “Good for you, good for me, good for the sea...”
Fish-and-chip shops have come a long way from seafood sticks and Chiko Rolls. Sustainability was king at Richard Webb’s last venture, Sprout in Auchenflower, where he grew produce, kept a worm farm, compost and native bees. “Swampdog sees all the elements of my life coming together,” says Webb. “I’ve always cared about sustainability and the environment, I’ve worked for Fisheries in the Department of Primary Industries, been an angler all my life, now I work with my three sons and give people access to better choices.”
All seafood at Swampdog is from Australian waters. If you’re hankering for flake or cod, be prepared to be steered in the direction of more sustainable species like mahi-mahi or whiting. There’s complimentary house-made lemonade to wash down Popcorn prawns ($6.90) – crisp, paprika-coated bay prawns served in biodegradable cones. Tempura prawn cutlets with chips ($13.90) are good too, but it’s whiting smeared with ginger prawn mousse rolled and wrapped in nori, tempura battered and fried until batter-shatteringly marvellous with a side of Asian salad ($13.90) – a recipe from Sprout – that floats our boat.
You’ll find Swampdog on busy Vulture Street between the majestic St Andrews church and the more humble South Bank train station. Take away your haul or pull up a stool at the indoor share table, out front, or in the quieter courtyard at the side of the building. Remember to pop your packaging in the red bins when you’re done – it’s all recyclable, of course.
“What I’m doing is not radical and out-there but palatable and approachable,” says Webb. It’s good for you and good for the sea, so drop in and treat yourself to sustainable sustenance – Swampdog style.