Seven years ago David and Kylie Pollard moved their family from Sydney’s Northern Beaches to Port Stephens. They were sick and tired of the traffic and wanted the opportunity to own their own home.
They also had a dream – to open a restaurant with a view.
David is a chef and Kylie has more than 20 years of hospitality to her name. Together, they own and run Saltwater Restaurant above Fingal Beach Surf Life Saving Club which opened late last year to a local and tourist market hungry for quality food with a view.
And what a view it is.
Pollard worked at Club Med in the Whitsundays and the Rockpool Group after completing his cooking apprenticeship. He was head chef at “a little restaurant in Newport” and also spent time working in London and with the Solotel Group in Sydney.
“The idea of opening a restaurant by the water came about 15 years ago. It was just a matter of an opening becoming available for us. When we first walked into the space above the surf club we just knew the dream would come to fruition,” he said.
Saltwater’s menu revolves around locally-sourced seafood. The seafood platter for two is popular, as well as the caramel chilli lamb rack and the prawn, squid and Vongole clam angel hair pasta with chilli oil and citrus zest.
“My philosophy is to start with the very best fresh, local seafood and produce – and we have an abundance here in Port Stephens – and let the ingredients speak for themselves,” Pollard said.
“There’s always a well-balanced selection of seasonal dishes. We use local farmers Holberts oysters, Monin Seafoods and a local fruit and vegetable supplier who sources from Newcastle Farmers Markets. We love to showcase the fresh local fish, mussels and oysters of Port Stephens. I trust my seafood supplier and ask him ‘What’s good this week?’ and we work out the specials around his suggestions.”
Tourists make up a large part of Saltwater’s customer base but Pollard says “locals keep coming back because there’s always something new to try”. Families are welcome and whale-watching is encouraged.
The couple didn’t want to compete with the venue’s panoramic views of Fingal Bay so worked with designer Morag Argiris to adopt an “inviting and understated Hamptons-meets-beach style”.
“We still love watching peoples’ reactions as they enter for the first time,” Kylie Pollard said.
“It’s important to us that people feel relaxed and at home here.”
Their vision is to make Saltwater the premier wedding location in the region.
“I believe Port Stephens is one of the most spectacular places on earth,” Dave Pollard said. “This is a dream come true and we are so proud to be able to share it.”