Waterfront lunches worth the drive from Sydney and Melbourne
Enjoy some of the tastiest day trips around.
Words by Ute Junker
Originally published in Traveller
A good meal always tastes better when accompanied a side serve of salt air and the sparkle of sunlight dancing on the water. Make lunch at one of these six waterfront restaurants – all an easy drive from Melbourne – the main course in a memorable day trip.
At the Beach House Geelong, it’s all about getting the timing right. Don’t book your lunch too early; you want to leave room for a quick dip at Eastern Beach beforehand. Then again, you don’t want to leave it too late, either, and miss out on a post-prandial seaside stroll? And of course, you don’t want to rush your meal, either. As you’d expect from any Mulberry Group (Liminal, Common Ground) outlet, this grand dame of a seaside pavilion has plenty of enticing options on the menu, from local mussels cooked white wine sauce and served with charred toast to a chicken burger with housemade kimchi on a brioche bun.
Nostalgia is best measured out in small doses, and The Rocks gets it exactly right. The setting may be wonderfully yesteryear – who can go past a classic clapboard shouse, particularly when it is perfectly positioned to watch the boats sail past? – but the food, critically, is utterly contemporary. Raw bar choices include not just sashimi and fresh-shucked oysters but also a Vietnamese salmon salad and a trio of tartares – tuna, salmon and kingfish – served on betel leaf. If you fancy something heartier, try the red duck curry or the sticky BBQ pork ribs in a sesame hoisin sauce.
You don’t have to be in the mood for wine tasting to pull in at boutique vineyard The House of Jack Rabbit – although if you are, give the pinot noir a go. These days smart wineries are multi-tasking, and The House of Jack Rabbit has made sure its restaurant and café are as much an attraction as the cellar door. The views across the bay to Geelong, the You Yangs and Melbourne are panoramic, and what’s on the plate is just as enticing. Good options include the wallaby shank salad and the fried local squid, or tuck into a buddha bowl of black bean and brown rice with avocado and capsicum.
No-one plans a seaside lunch and hopes for bad weather. However, if your booking is at The Cape Kitchen at Newhaven, looming clouds may be the best thing that could happen. While this restaurant is glorious on a sunny day, its front-and-centre views of the Bass Strait can be even more magnificent when the weather is tumultuous and the ocean turns up the drama. As for the food, choose between grazing on share plates on the deck – think grilled Skull Island prawns or spiced lamb kofta – or opt for the two- or three-course set menu inside.
Same same but different. Surrounded by glorious Apollo Bay views instead of street art, Movida’s Lorne outpost delivers that inimitable Movida vibe, while playing up the seaside feel with a menu showcasing local seafood. Start small – perhaps with a serve of concha, a pastry shell stuffed with tuna sashimi and charred citrus – so that you can indulge yourself with the whole flounder served with saffron butter sauce. If you need to walk it off, add an after-lunch stroll to Teddy’s Lookout or Erskine Falls to the agenda.
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