Coastal Restaurants in NSW
Not only does NSW have some of the world’s most dramatic coastlines, but some of the world’s best food. It seems only natural to combine the two – these are some of the best restaurants on, or near, the ocean, where it’s just a stroll from the surf to superb seaside dining. With their exciting, fresh flavours enriched by clean ocean air, these restaurants by the coast represent the best of NSW dining.
Pipit, Pottsville, Far North Coast
Ben Devlin, formerly of Noma in Copenhagen and more recently Paper Daisy at Cabarita Beach, has moved a few kilometres south, to Pottsville, to set up his own restaurant: a 40-seater by the name of Pipit. The centrepiece of the kitchen is a charcoal pit, and Ben uses wood-fired and charcoal cooking techniques to produce dishes that embrace Northern Rivers vegetables and sustainable seafood and poultry (for environmental reasons, beef is off the menu). The selection is small but exciting. Think smoked squash with fresh peanuts, shiitake and tendrils; and blue-eye trevalla with roasted bone sauce and fennel, served with leek tart and a red oak and anchovy salad.
Fleet, Brunswick Heads, Far North Coast
Byron Bay’s neighbour, Brunswick Heads, is beautiful, but modest about it. A bit like Fleet, the town’s mini fine-diner with a big reputation. Blink and you’d miss it, but step inside this 14-seat space and you’ll find warm service and an adventurous, ever-changing shared degustation menu in the evenings, with the option of à la carte dining at lunchtimes. The downside? You need to book six weeks in advance or try to snare a cancellation.
The Stunned Mullet, Port Macquarie, North Coast
Fine-diner The Stunned Mullet can be found opposite Town Beach in Port Macquarie, a very handy halfway between Sydney and Byron Bay. The vibe is relaxed but refined, and the modern Australian menu and impressive wine list have earned the Mullet accolades from well beyond the North Coast. It’s not every day you get to eat Patagonian toothfish, but you’ll find it here, alongside Tajima Wagyu and Cape Grim grass-fed eye fillet, with no shortage of excellent wines to match.
Avoca Surf House, Avoca Beach, Central Coast
Inspired by the famed Surf Lodge in Montauk, New York, Avoca Surf House occupies prime position just across from the sand at Avoca Beach. It’s bright and light and the kind of place you could happily while away an entire afternoon (and evening). The menu focuses on sustainable, local produce with plenty of seafood and great vegetarian options. Founder Emily Caska wanted it to be much more than just a restaurant and bar, so Avoca Surf House is also the State’s most stylish community centre. Before opening at 12, you can come for yoga, gardening or a senior’s book club, and there are regular partnerships with local charities and sporting groups.
Rick Stein at Bannisters, Mollymook, South Coast
British celebrity chef Rick Stein opened his now-iconic restaurant at the Mollymook clifftop hotel, Bannisters by the Sea, back in 2009. Today, the South Coast ocean views are as spectacular as ever and the food continues to match them. Stein is a seafood specialist, so grab a table out on the deck and settle in for the likes of oysters Charentaise (have an oyster, a bite of spicy sausage and a gulp of white wine), the Bannisters fish pie or a Sri Lankan Huon salmon curry. You’ll also find the classic combination of Stein seafood, ocean views and luxury accommodation on the North Coast at Bannisters Port Stephens.