Who doesn't like finding new places to wine and dine when you're on holidays?
Here's a collection of places down our stretch of the coast worth seeking out. From fun, casual places what will suit the whole family to restaurants more suited to a proper night out.
This is the summer we've all been waiting for, support local and kick back and enjoy the view.
Otis Deli, Kiama
Emily Herbert was previously head chef at Ottolenghi Belgravia and has returned home to open a cafe-deli in Kiama. When Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales mentioned it on their podcast there was a flood of new customers. There's a fresh, constantly changing Middle Eastern-inspired menu her former boss would approve from There's a big emphasis on salads, think roasted pumpkin, tahini, caramelised onion and zaatar, and get in quick for the savoury cauliflower cakes which sell out most days.
The Gunyah, Jervis Bay
Situated in the luxurious Paperbark Camp, The Gunyah welcomes a limited number of non-residential guests for breakfast and dinner. Situated high amongst the treetops, this restaurant takes the concept of bush tucker to the next level. There's an emphasis on local produce and wine, and a measured approach to dishes. Think cured kingfish with desert lime cream, fermented daikon and wasabi oil or lemon myrtle cheesecake with macadamia and citrus jam. You've never had camp food like it.
The Pilgrims story begins a little further south in Milton, where the humble vegetarian cafe opened its doors in 1980. Now there's a cafe in Husky (as well as a couple dotted through the beach suburbs of Sydney. Throw in consistently excellent coffee, generous portions, attentive staff, stunning views and a young, trendy atmosphere, Pilgrims is a popular place. The veggie burgers are to die for, or hang around for Mexican nights on Fridays and Saturdays for tacos with a twist.
Bangalay Dining, Shoalhaven Heads
Simon Evans and Thomas Chiumento, formerly of Wollongong's only hatted restaurant Caveau, have moved a little further south to the restaurant in the grounds of Bangalay Luxury Villas. Along with new restaurant manager Ronnie Gorman, the team will continue to focus on premium fresh produce and Australian native ingredients. The summer menu offers kangaroo rolled in wattle seed, pickled muntries, sea blite and hazelnuts or try a Moreton Bay bug thermidor with native butter and summer purslane. Save room for the South Coast dairy panna cotta with native citrus
Small Town Food + Wine, Milton
Chef Alex Delly and his partner Jo Thomas downsized from their one-hatted St Isidore in 2019 and opened this 20-seater which feels "like sitting at the kitchen bench having a laugh with your friends", the website says. I wish my friends were serving such interesting food. Think prawn, scallop and chicken skin dumplings with white soy and chilli or toothfish with zucchini, tomato, mussels and prosciutto. Apparently the lobster rolls with mayo and fine herbs are to die for.
Harvest Bar, Milton
A boutique wine bar and eatery with uninterrupted views of rolling hills and the ocean. You might want to stay all day. There's a great range of wines, craft beers and the cocktail menu surprises as well. Think tomato and basil flatbreads, salt and pepper calamari and popcorn prawns. The nachos and tacos are popular too and the Harvest Taste Board, a weekly selection of favourites, is built for sharing.
Situated where the popular Tallwood used to be, Gwylo (and head to the website for the fun story behind the name) is quickly making a name for itself. Chef Matt Upson, who's worked for Cheong Liew and Simon Bryant, has brought a little touch of South East Asia to the South Coast with an emphasis on an ever-changing menu of punchy Asian street food flavours. From steamed Pambula oysters with ginger soy and shallot, to bao buns, hibachi skewers and stir-fried Mittagong mushrooms with fried silken tofu, kimchi, ginger, chilli and shallot. The locals tell me it might be hard to get in, but do your damnedest.
Whether you want to head up to Rick Stein's eponymous restaurant for classic recipes with a focus on seafood or a wood-fired pizza from the Bannisters Pool Bar, there's a menu for every taste. Don't forget the Rooftop Bar and Grill down in town at Bannister's Pavilion for a more casual evening with a Mediterranean spin. In the main restaurant don't go past the bouillabaisse with snapper, blue eye, mussels, prawn and saffron potatoes and there's a great selection of oysters as well. At the Rooftop, the chargrilled half chicken with green harissa and burnt lemon is a meal meant to share.
Cupitt's Estate, Ulladulla
If you've had enough of the beach head inland to Cupitt's where there are several dining options. Book a table in the restaurant and enjoy a four-course tasting menu offering a selection from the garden and the fromagerie. If the fromagerie is your thing book a wine and cheese tasting experience and be guided through a selection of five wines and three cheeses. Or try a table on the lawn with the more casual bar menu of wood-fired pizzas or some CFC - Cupitt's fried chicken. Or just enjoy a wine tasting on its lonesome. The choice is yours.
The Ruse, Ulladulla
Overlooking the picturesque Ulladulla Harbour, The Ruse is a happening little spot with a menu inspired by Central American flavours. There's a great selection of quality cocktails and beers and a diverse spirit selection as well. We're heading down for the tacos, from charred prawn with pineapple, iceberg lettuce and adobo mayonnaise to pulled pork with pickled fennel, chimichurri and apple and corn slaw. For dessert, churros with dulce de leche.
Saltwood Cafe, Kioloa
We love the tag "dream, create, caffeinate", used by this great space in the heart of the little village of Kioloa. As well as the cafe, where there is an emphasis on fresh produce and interesting flavours, there's a homewares store and a gallery, perfect for browsing while you're waiting for your coffee. The whole place vibes beachfront chic. Get the day off to perfect start with a swim then pop in for shakshuka with poached eggs, feta and sourdough or the house granola with berry compote, labneh and poached apple. The fish tacos come highly recommended.
Tribe Cafe, Batemans Bay
A dog friendly health food cafe just near the Catalina Country Club with locally roasted coffee from The Venetian and a good selection of organic teas and kombucha. Try the Tribe Fritters for breakfast, pea fritters with sauteed greens, avocado and a roasted carrot miso sauce or the Moroccan lamb burger. Good little menu for the kids too.
Sandbar, Batemans Bay
Chef David Tinker trained under three-Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire in London and now this intimate restaurant, with panoramic views, has taken dining in the Bay to the next level. Every plate respects the quality and potential of the produce use and the degustation menu changes monthly. Don't be put off by the long dish descriptions - cured beef, kingfish sashimi, snow pea, apple, ginger, smoked stingray chiboust, banana crumble, white asparagus, puffed rice, shiso and confit sakura - on the plate, it's a lesson in constraint.
Mossy Cafe, Mossy Point
A firm favourite for a reason. Start the day with a coffee, Guerilla Roasters do a specific Mossy blend which changes with the seasons. Much of the menu is made in house and while it's hard to go past the cakes and slices if you're after more substantial meal there's a range of salads, burgers and bowls. We love the old-school jaffles, from ham cheese and tomato, to pulled pork, kimchi, cheese and kewpie sriracha.
Tucked away behind the general store at the south end of Broulee, is one of the coast's best kept secrets. It's like hanging out in Kerri Anne Reed's home kitchen, such is the personal service. There's a fantastic menu of toasties, salad bowls and great coffee. The ever changing menu depends on the season and what takes her fancy. The fresh made sandwiches are delicious, pick up a smoothie made with banana, blueberries and coconut water and head over to the beach for lunch.
Single Fin Canteen and Goods, Broulee
This idea began in the vintage-style Woody caravan "Single Fin Gypsy", born out of passion for vintage surf stylings, great coffee, delicious wholesome goodies and good vibes. As time went by they decided to give some love to the old takeaway shop in Broulee. There's a focus on local produce and check out the gelato from The Pines in Kiama and nab a sausage roll if you can. Hours vary so check their social media.
The River, Moruya
Chef Peter Compton's obsession is to use clean fresh local produce to create dishes that represent the best of what the Eurobodalla and far south coast have to offer, using classical French techniques and modern Australian concepts. Try seared scallops, crab filled zucchini flower, Provencal salad and tomato beurre blanc and finish with a chocolate fondant, white chocolate mousse and doughnut ice cream.
Dulcie's Cottage, Merimbula
Dulcie's Cottage is an original weatherboard cottage, built in 1925 by Arthur and Dulcie Goodsill. They raised their family of 10 here and now it's been reimagined into a watering hole that serves cocktails and craft beers from behind a long bar surrounded by taxidermy and bric-a-brac. In the beer garden there's a 1950's Carapark caravan serving a concise menu of delicious burgers, local oysters and tasty fries. Build your own burger on a Wild Rye organic milk bun or settle in with a plate of Broadwater oysters with a lemon and nuoc cham dressing.
Fat Tony's, Tathra
A modern menu, a full bar, cracking steaks and seafood in the beautiful setting of a renovated 1905 heritage house. The menu is considered modern Australian with a bit of a focus on seafood and the char-grilled steaks are legendary. Start with some local rock oysters, try the Asian spiced prawns and finish with a Toblerone chocolate mousse. Great location, great service.
A providore selling a lot of local produce and an all day menu featuring what's looking fresh on the day. Local gardeners can bring in their excess produce. The cafe menu might offer a baked veggie stack made with what's come in, or savoury muffins. Or just head straight to the display cabinet full of sweet treats.
- Please check with all venues in regards to opening hours and COVID restrictions.