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Two day South Coast & Southern Highlands loop - restaurant reccos please.

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May 2nd, 2010, 07:51 PM
  #1
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Two day South Coast & Southern Highlands loop - restaurant reccos please.

I know it's a bit rich asking you for advice again, when I haven't finished the Canberra jaunt report - and I'll do it tonight. Promise.

In the meantime, my cousin & I are off for a couple of days this week. I've had the Grand Pacific Drive & Sea Cliff Bridge on my radar for a while, and this seems like a good opportunity to combine them with his good company and some culinary adventures. We both like good food, little towns, second hand shops, art galleries and a glass of something refreshing to vanquish dehydration at the end of an exhausting day's roaming.

Rough route: (VERY open to suggested alternatives). Sydney - Grand Pacific Drive - Thirroul - Wollongong - Berry - Shoalhaven Heads - Kangaroo Valley - Exeter - Bundanoon - Sutton Forest - Moss Vale - Bowral - Mittagong - Sydney.

We'll leave Sydney on Wednesday morning, return Thursday evening.
That's two lunches and a good dinner - the latter preferably fairly close to accommodation. Fussier about food than accommodation - quite happy to stay in the local 1950's pub or caravan park cabin, if it's near a stand-out Dinner venue.

I did think about running down to Mollymook to try Rick Stein's offerings at Bannisters, but wondered whether that might be ignoring some equally good/interesting places that you might know about. If we did that, we'd go to Batemans Bay & take the Braidwood road back to the highway & home that way. Not a problem, but I haven't really explored the northern end of the South Coast and it would be nice to do that this time.

A couple of options I've pencilled in are:
Bistro 345 or Samuels at Thirroul,
Berry Woodfired Sourdough Bakery or The Hungry Duck at Berry
Relish at Shellharbour

Thought about Caveau in Wollongong because it has great reviews, but think I'd like to be a little further down the coast for our overnight stay, which is why I wondered about Relish at Shellharbour.

Thursday's lunch will depend on where we are when starvation sets in (can you imagine me starving?)

Thoughts: The cafe at Sturt Gallery (Moss Vale)
Journeyman or Centennial Vineyards at Bowral

Of course, we can be equally happy with whatever looks good as we mosey up the street in any of the towns we go through. But, if you have some comments/recommendations for somewhere to eat, stay or something interesting to see on our little jaunt, I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks in advance.
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May 2nd, 2010, 08:29 PM
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We ate at Caveau last year and were quite disappointed. Some friends have eaten there and loved it. We felt we had a much better (and less expensive) meal at Lorenzo's Diner, across the road.

We've eaten at Relish. It was quite good. I can't recall what we had, but my general impression was positive. Well worth the trip for lunch.

I've also hit the Hungry Duck at Berry. It's well reviewed and I thought it was pretty good - but - it was during a personal drama, and we were almost an hour late for our booking, so I may not have been making too sensible judgments. His Lordship, who was not quite as traumatised, (indeed, he was laughing a lot!) enjoyed it.

Another place to consider is the restaurant at Silos, the winery, south of Berry and before Nowra. I've had a very good dinner there. My friend has eaten there a number of times.

Avoid pretty much anything in Kiama - the food range from mundane to bloody awful. Perhaps the fish at Saltwater Grill is OK - but you wouldn't write home to your mother about it.

Bannisters - still trying to organise ourselves to get down there. It's too far to drive back to Kiama at night, and we're not organised enough to do lunch, usuallly.

I know nothing of the Southern Highlands.
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May 2nd, 2010, 08:43 PM
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Oh good - hoped you'd see this & come to my rescue, Margo! Many thanks.

I had a feeling Silos had closed - glad to hear it's still going. Not been there, but lots of friends have & always spoke well of it.
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May 5th, 2010, 12:53 AM
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As far asI know it's still open. (I'll check) We haven't been there since, I think, January, but it was still happening then.

The winery has a tasting room, and some of their drops are not bad. Look out for Bella, the winery cat. She loves a pat.
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May 5th, 2010, 03:03 PM
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Not to be too pedantic but the Sturt Cafe is actually in Mittagong.
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May 6th, 2010, 04:48 PM
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Bokara2 I live in Wollongong.

After the Grand Pacific drive there is a great pub called Scarborough Pub. It has a lovely outdoor garden eating area, the views are spectacular and the food excellent. So nice on a sunny day.

Along the road at Austinmer there is the Austie Beach cafe overlooking the beach, good food and great gelato.

Moving on to Wollongong at Stuart Park is the Lagoon Seafood Restaurant, the most popular in the 'Gong'. It has a lovely aspect looking over the beach and is great for lunch or dinner. As are The Beachhouse or Harbourfront Restaurant.

Shellharbour has another popular seafood restaurant called Addissons. They also have a very popular pub right on the beach.
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May 6th, 2010, 05:30 PM
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Ah sorry have just re-read your post and now realise you are probably already away.

Maybe next time you are down our way or it could help others hoping to do the same trip
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May 7th, 2010, 12:00 AM
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Hi,
You are spoiled for choice in the Southern Highlands. At Berrima, the Magpie is always popular, as is Eschalot (hatted) Josh's and quite a few others.
The Journeyman in Bowral is also hatted and Wild Pizza in Mittagong has wood fired pizzas, great pasta and a relaxed friendly atmosphere. As for wine! All our cellar doors have really good wine, and Centennial Vineyards restaurant and Southern Highlands Winery restaurant are also highly recommended.
Have a look at www.southernhighlandfling.com.au for more info. This is a magical time to visit the Southern Highlands!
(Unbiased view of course)!
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May 7th, 2010, 01:51 AM
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Waterview restaurant in Batemans Bay. Great location fronting the 'CBD' walkway overlooking the bay and our lunch (April last year) was easily the best of our south coast jaunt. Further south, Red Box Pizza at Tuross Lake has had good things said about it.
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May 7th, 2010, 06:10 AM
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If you’ve read the earlier posts, the aim was to take a lazy two day trip looping from Sydney down to the South Coast, back through Kangaroo Valley & the Southern Highlands, home. Just an excuse to take the Grand Pacific Drive & Seacliff bridge route because I’d not done it, find some new restaurants, visit a friend at Sturt Gallery in Mittagong and spend some time with my cousin.

The weather gods smile on us, despite leaving Sydney in drizzle with predictions of thunder storms. As we emerge from the Royal National Park the Grand Pacific Drive & Seacliff Bridge ahead are bathed in sunshine. Down with the sunroof & on with Madeline, Melodie & Annie. http://www.grandpacificdrive.com.au Everything you have heard about this drive probably under played it.

We consider lunch at the spectacularly located Scarborough Hotel , but decide to run down to Greenwell Point for some oysters & blackfish. http://www.sydney.com/town/Scarborou...otel/info.aspx

There’s a saying that you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl; the girl sometimes forgets something important: Small country town have lunch hours shorter than the ‘big smoke’. 2:30 & everything’s shut tighter than the oysters on our radar. We can probably survive, given that we have reservations at The Hungry Duck in Berry (thanks Margo-Oz).

Tracking back through the lush rolling hills, I’m pleased to note that The Silos is indeed still open for business http://www.thesilos.com/

I’ve always liked Berry and am pleased to see that it hasn’t been completely “tweeeeed” as have some of the other towns & villages in the region. The Berry Village Boutique Motel had a great rate of $135, including continental breakfast. The rooms are generously proportioned and both of ours had very nice garden views. www.berrymotel.com.au

Two bonuses and a reason for a re-visit: The motel is directly across the street from our dinner venue, has a very nice restaurant space incorporating some easy chairs, sofas and a fire at the end making a very inviting bar/lounge. This was taken over by some new people a little more than a month ago and if the two we meet are any indication, bodes very well for another dining option in Berry. Mark Marshall, the chef, arrived from the Cook Islands (imagine the climate adjustment!) and has a most interesting menu. Had we not booked across the street, I’d have stayed for his rabbit in a heartbeat.

Having settled into our rooms, we thought it only polite to have a little something in the bar. We’d been asked whether we would like to have dinner and when we said we’d booked over the road, “They do a great job at The Duck– I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.” We sipped our Chalk Hill “The Procrastinator” & perused The Pavillion’s dinner menu.

At first glance, the menu looks familiar to many other good bistros – but then there’s the point of difference.

Starters: ($17 - $18)
Blue Swimmer Crab & King Prawn Ravioli – truffled spinach, capers & tomatoes, toasted almonds, brown butter.

Crispy pork belly salad – green papaya, coriander, crispy shallots, sweet lime & dressing.

Smoked ham Hock – confit hens egg, smoked boacon foam, crispy sage , green peas & speck.

Pumpkin & pinenut Puff Pastry Strudle – basil cress, pumpkin seeds, parmesan, pink peppercorns & cab sav dressing.

Mains: ($29-$31)
Saddle of Rabbit – black pudding, confit leg galette, pickled grapes, brandy butter sauce.

Cannon of Lamb Wraped in Proscuitto – braised lamb shoulder, sweet potato puree, port wine sauce.

Wild Mushroom & Watercress Risotto – confit free range chicken, green asparagus, truffle.

Sides: ($9)
Roast new potatoes, smoked bacon, rosemary& parsley

Salad of Walnut, baby rocket, shaved apple & aged parmesan, cab sav vinaigrette.

Dessert ($14.50)
Star Anise & Vanilla Panna Cotta, Sweet wine granita, Iced berry.

Soft Centered Dark Chocolate Fondant. Vanilla Bean ice cream, orange foam, pistachio nuts.

Banana & toffee tart – young coconut sorbet, sea salt caramel, toasted coconut **

Cheese plate ($17.50.)
Degustation: 6 courses - $70.

The Hungry Duck was a superb – Thanks Margo! www.hungryduck.com.au

It’s an intimate yet spacious restaurant, achieved by its narrow housing and bluish charcoal interior & well spaced tables. Two beautiful paintings on one wall are a legacy of the chef’s ancestors in Shanghai, complemented by two red very modern pieces on the opposite wall. The service is interested, knowledgeable, attentive without being cloying.

We started with a dry martini & a Japanese slipper, made a little drier than normal and nibbled on plantain chips with caramalised nahm jim ($8), while narrowing down our choices.

The menu was very similar to the one on the website; with a few additions.
We settled on these & shared:

Starter: Crab ravioli, seaweed salad & soy vinaigrette ($16). There were two large ravioli & they were superb. One each was enough, as we also ordered:

Caramelised pork hock, green papaya & chilli salad. The green papaya & chilli were perfect offsets for the richness of the caramelised pork hock.

A special – wok fried whole Wagu fillet, marinated in ginger, sake, mirin & lemon, thinly sliced & topped with bonito flakes, mushroom dashi . This was a stand-out & the flavours of the sauce/jus both rich & clean.

A side of dry fried snake beans with hoi sin and sesame seeds - and boiled rice .

Two glasses of a local wine – Bawley Point Estate’s “No Toes” (Chambourcin, Shiraz, Cab Sav).
Total $153.

We were tempted by some of the dessert offerings, but had the Pavilion’s Banana & Toffee Tart & the Soft Centered Dark Chocolate Fondant beside the open fire on our minds.

Alas, I should have remembered the lunch-time lesson on timing – at 9:30 it was “lights out”. Admittedly, it was a quiet Wednesday night & in the first days of Autumn’s chill. We briefly thought about retracing our steps & having something sweet at The Duck, but really – did we need it? Hardly!

After breakfast, we spent a couple of hours wandering around Berry – some interesting shops & a plethora of coffee houses, many of which looked very good.

The loose plan for the day was Kangaroo Valley, Robertson, Moss Vale, Bowral, Mittagong & home. We took the winding tourist road to Kangaroo Valley, which was very quiet – reflecting a mostly tourist centered village, I guess. Coffee at Ji Jing, just past the lovely sandstone Hampden Bridge
http://www.southcoast.com.au/kangaroovalley

Thinking we’d have lunch at Journeymen in Bowral, http://journeymanrestaurant.com.au/, I called ahead for a booking, only to find most of the Southern Highlands were sans gas, due to a problem in the regulation station.

Figuring this freed up some more travelling time, we had a steak at the Robertson Inn (good steak, lovely conservatory style room enclosed by windows, letting in the warm afternoon sun).

Through Sutton Forrest, Moss Vale & up to Mittagong, where we visited Sturt Gallery http://www.sturt.nsw.edu.au/. This is a treasure trove of wood, glass, fabric, sculptures & paintings – many produced by students at the courses run in-house.
Just under 2 hours later, we're back in Sydney. It was a great couple of days; some wonderful winding drives through lush countryside, the Grand Pacific Drive & Seacliff bridge spectacular, and we added some new entries in our "fabulous food" notebooks.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions.
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May 12th, 2010, 08:37 PM
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Glad the "Duck"turned out well.

I'll have to make a return trip - hopefully without precursor disaster this time.

I love this part of the world (as you can tell!)
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May 13th, 2010, 12:28 AM
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Margo, it was superb. It really was a toss-up between the Duck & Mark Marshall's menu at "Pavilion", though. Don't regret our choice for a minute, and am scheming to get back down to Berry to try Pavilion sometime soon.

I'll let you know when it's on the drawing board - maybe you might like to come too.

Cheers
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Feb 2nd, 2016, 12:19 PM
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Did you know NSW's Southern Highlands Wine Region boasts many beautiful vineyards and cellar doors offering wine tastings, restaurants/cafes and vineyard tours.With many local vineyards now having reached international acclaim, the Southern Highlands of NSW has become one of the premium wine regions in Australia. I recently went on a tour with The Grape Escape Southern Highlands Wine Tours http://grapeescape.net.au/index.php/...ds-wine-tours/ and loved it! They even offer Clay Shooting on one of the tours.
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Feb 2nd, 2016, 12:30 PM
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Winelover - you've exhumed a 6 year old thread to advertise your business.

Not a good look when it's against the T&CS of posting here.
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Feb 2nd, 2016, 08:38 PM
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I must say, I'm glad he did. What a great thread with lots of good information. Does any of that still apply?
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Feb 2nd, 2016, 09:49 PM
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Lots of it would still apply, AHP. Certainly the towns, wineries & so on.
Have a look at the South Coast & Southern Highlands websites.
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