7 must-try foodie experiences on the South Coast
The cooler months are the perfect time to indulge in the South Coast’s culinary wonders. From ocean-fresh oysters and sensational street food to charming markets, here’s where to go for a real taste of the region.
Get streetwise at Steamers
Head to City Beach in Wollongong and celebrate street food from around the world at the award-winning Steamers Bar and Grill. Its winter menu is rustic, hearty and gamey (try the Tuscan goat pie or the braised rabbit gnocchi), and the fireplace, lanterns and Edison globes infuse the indoor dining area with a cosy, magical charm. If you prefer to dine al fresco, don’t let the cool season put you off: on the beachside balcony, heat lamps (and blankets, if you need them) keep the chill at bay.
Make the most of a market
It’s all about keeping it local at Kiama Farmers’ Market, which turns Coronation Park in pretty coastal Kiama into a slice of fresh foodie heaven every Wednesday afternoon. When the bell rings (at 2pm in winter; 3pm during daylight saving) the stalls open, and you’ll find everything from award-winning cheese and artisan gelato from The Pines micro-dairy to free-range eggs from a farm in Jamberoo and sourdough bread from Flour Water Salt. Stock up on gourmet goodies, treat yourself to some empanadas, or maybe doughnuts and a hot chocolate, and grab a seat in the sun to watch the passing parade.
Sample oysters from the source
For quality oysters straight from the source – with a million-dollar view to match – head to The Farm Gate and Oyster Shed on Wray Street, tucked away in a quiet corner of Batemans Bay. You’ll find superb Sydney rock oysters grown right here in the Clyde River. Grab some to take away, or eat them on site by the fire pit, overlooking the Clyde itself. Non-oyster eaters won’t go hungry – there’s great coffee and cake too.
See Rick’s cooler side
No food-focused trip to the South Coast is complete without a visit to Rick Stein at Bannisters Mollymook, which not only produces some of the best seafood on the coast but comes with views to match (on a headland overlooking the glittering Pacific). Head to the Pool Bar for a sunset cocktail outside or by the fire, before settling in for dinner in the restaurant, where the vibe is intimate and warm. The menu, which changes daily, depending on what the local fishermen have caught, is five-star seafood bliss. Think coconut chilli prawns and kingfish steak with salsa verde.
Eat well at Eschalot
Seasonal produce is the star of the show at the renowned Eschalot in the Southern Highlands. Settle into the warm embrace of this heritage-listed sandstone cottage in the heart of historic Berrima, where head chef Matty Roberts draws on his kitchen garden and the best local fare to offer some remarkable dishes matched with a comprehensive range of wines. Sit back and order a feast from the winter menu, with dishes such as dukkha-crusted lamb shoulder with tahini dressing, or paella-stuffed bullhorn peppers with Veracruz sauce.
Hit the oyster trail
Further south on the Sapphire Coast, the pristine waterways produce some of the world’s best bivalves. And with each of the five key estuaries here (Wonboyn Lake, Pambula Lake, Merimbula Lake, Nelson Lagoon and Wapengo Lake) producing a unique flavour, you have the perfect excuse to taste them in myriad places and ways. The Sapphire Coast Oyster Trail, launched this winter, celebrates the “merroir” (as opposed to terroir) of these different environments, and invites you to create your own itinerary of “shellar doors”. At night, settle in for some cosy restaurant dining: Wheelers Restaurant in Merimbula is the go-to for more delicious local seafood.
Treat yourself at the tavern
Cantilevered over the water, with huge glass windows offering views of boats bobbing in the marina, The Waterfront Tavern at Shell Cove will have you lingering over a seafood platter, beef ragu or lamb shanks long after the sun has set. With a fireplace and an impressive list of cocktails on offer, you’ll be warmed up in no time. The tavern is part of Shellharbour’s newest waterfront dining precinct The Waterfront Shell Cove, which offers a sparkling selection of new eateries to explore.