Their food is filling, nostalgic and utterly satisfying and now Kon and Effie have returned to Warrina Arcade to bring you traditional fish and chips that after 40+ years in the making, are anything but small fry.
Step inside any quality fresh fish market and you can experience the taste of the sea. The bright eyes and gleaming flesh of the barramundi and mackerel, mingling with the delicate colours of salmon, trout and red emperor – all expertly displayed on crushed ice alongside a vast array of oysters, shellfish, lobsters, crabs and more.
But there is one truly significant difference at Otto’s Fish Market that no market anywhere in the world can replicate, and it only takes one glance over the service counter to see it.
Konstantino Pilouris (or ‘Kon’ as he is endearingly known to the locals), is the man behind the magic that is the Otto’s Fish
Market fish and chippery department, and he can be seen controlling the fryers daily at this fish and chip shop that
beautifully marries modernity with traditional.
You might already know Kon. He is a man who has been frying fish and handcutting chips almost his entire adult life (over 40 years, in fact)… and it shows.
They say no good fish goes anywhere without a porpoise purpose, and it was fate that brought Kon from Greece, to the shores of Australia by boat in 1965. He worked his way around the country in a number of jobs, before arriving in Townsville, where he was placed to work on the construction of the Yabulu nickel refinery.
It was here in Townsville that he was serendipitously coupled with his future wife (and business partner) Effie… and fish and chips.
Teaming up with his brother Arthur, Kon purchased the established fish bar at the Warrina Arcade in 1976. It was April 4th, if we are to be exact. They ran the shop together for 16 years before Arthur returned to Greece in 1992. But Kon still had some big fish to fry, so he and Effie battered up, so to speak, running the shop for a total of 40 years until choosing to retire in 2016.
Every day for those 40 years, Kon would rise early and head to the shop to prepare for opening – including the behemoth job of cutting hundreds of potatoes by traditional hand press. That’s right, even during the chippery’s twilight years, Kon and Effie never sold a frozen chip.
Their cooked to order Spanish mackerel was always cocooned in an airy light batter, puffed up to crisp perfection; a fork cracking through the shiny, golden crust not unlike cracking into a crème brulee.
Their Greek-style, fresh calamari was the lightest, most melt-in-the-mouth calamari the people of Townsville had ever had the pleasure of devouring – really far too delicious for words.
Choosing to name the best fish and chip shop in Townsville back then was most certainly a subjective affair, but you would be hard pressed to find a local that wouldn’t swear that it was Kon and Effie’s offering that took the title, hook, line and sinker. To this day, we can’t be quite sure which of the aforementioned factors made their fish and chips the best – but then again it could simply have been their ‘trade secret’ of always being polite to their customers (and lollies for the kids).
It goes without saying that Kon and Effie go with fish and chips like, well, how fish goes with chips. And when they announced that they were moving on from the business to pursue a more leisurely lifestyle, travel the country
and spend time with their three children and their families (including four
grandchildren), the collective sigh of disbelief was almost audible across the city (and this excludes the customers that were literally crying in the shop begging them not to move on).
Townsville felt like it lost an old friend.
But two years later, here we are. They say small bait catches a big fish and Kon couldn’t stay away from Warrina Arcade. Both he and Effie have returned, bringing the smell of delicious things frying in hot oil back to visitors of Otto’s Fish Market, daily.
Their local, sustainably caught Spanish mackeral is back on the menu (and still always made to order), and don’t get us started on that calamari, which has also made a welcome return.
Oh, and those hand-cut chips?
Turns out Kon never really let go of that potato-press…
Otto’s Delicatessen makes entertaining easy with an exceptional range of continental smallgoods, cheeses and antipasto mixes, sourced from the best Australian suppliers • In-house smoked meats, handmade dips and condiments • Experts in pairing complementary ingredients
• Gorgeous platters to suit your budget with professional styling
• Seasonal fruit and vegetables direct from our produce department
• Served with fresh baked breads from our Artisan Bakehaus
Otto’s Continental Deli | Otto’s Arcade, Illuka St, Currajong | 0457 778 678 | ottosmarket.com.au