lobster at market price; sides, $6 to $10: desserts, $15 to $16
wines; 10 by the glass; also BYO
There’s nothing quite like eating in the fresh air. The sun’s out, the weather’s fine, finally. What could be better than a table overlooking a marina, watching boats come and go and the occasional flash as a dolphin surfaces.
Nelson Bay and its fresh seafood suppliers is just a short boat trip away so it’s reasonable to expect fish and shellfish in immaculate condition.
This is one place where the ever popular share plates are genuinely meant to be shared.
Case in point, the seafood tapas plate, where each item comes in twos. Two sea fresh oysters with a dribble of mango salsa on top, two pieces of tender, chargrilled squid on a small Greek salad, two slices of cured salmon with pink peppercorn dressing, two small crusty fish goujons (finger-sized strips) and two sweet prawns in a mini prawn cocktail.
There are smaller appetiser-sized plates, entrees and mains, but many plates come in a small and large size; you choose.
Appetisers include golden crumbed pumpkin and goat cheese risotto balls (arancini), or fish cakes with spicy curry mayonnaise. Or you could assuage the post Christmas guilt and try the smoky Serrano ham wrapped around feta, rocket leaves and rockmelon slices.
A separate list of prawn dishes features spectacularly huge but luscious specimens, in entree and main sizes. In one entree, four prawns have been deep-fried in a feather light tempura batter ready to dip into sweet chilli
sauce with a tangle of bean shoot, sliced green onions and coriander adding welcome crunch.
Four grill-marked, plump and juicy scallops top a green pea risotto. The rice is nicely al dente but the dish is a little dry even with its drizzle of pesto sauce.
There are three meat mains (eye fillet, duck and prosciutto wrapped chicken breast) but why bother when the locally available fish is so good. The menu is so market driven there is a daily changing list of five or six fish mains in addition to the usual seafood platters and traditional lobster (crayfish) dishes.
The red emperor must be popular because I get the last serving. This beautiful fish has been handled with respect, the skin crisp and the white flesh tinged with Cajun spice and moistened with lemon butter. The fillets perch on a stir-fry of finely sliced fennel, Roma tomatoes and baby spinach and are crowned with a raft of very good kipfler chips.
Each fish dish comes with different, though complementary accompaniments. The Bass Strait grouper fillet holds its own with a creamy rocket mash, darkly caramelised shallots and roasted beetroot.
Creme caramel; now, that’s a thing I haven’t seen on a menu for a while since the ubiquitous creme brulee pushed out this retro dessert. This creme caramel is textbook perfect; dark caramel bleeds into the creamy, not too firm, custard surrounded by diced, summer sweet strawberries in a Sambuca infused strawberry syrup.
Sunny summer days weave their own magic.
Add some good food shared with friends in a convivial atmosphere, and life couldn’t get much better.