I might have just had a lucky streak, or someone might be pulling a few strings to get me to fall in love with Sydney, but during my three visits there over the past year, I have experienced very little bad weather. On one of these beautifully sunny days, we went for lunch with a group of friends at The Boathouse on Balmoral Beach.
The Boathouse is without a doubt an absolutely stunning spot that stands in what used to be an old boat shed. As you walk towards the back deck, you’ll pass baskets full of colourful fresh fruits and flowers, before setting your eyes on the gorgeous view of the water.
The Boathouse does not take reservations and, as I’m sure you can imagine, on sunny days it seems that everyone likes to be beside the seaside (now try really hard not to get that song in your head!). This is perhaps one of the only downsides about the restaurant – first, you have to lurk suspiciously beside tables of diners that look like they might almost be finished (and if they aren’t almost finished, then you’ll make them so uncomfortable that they will eat so fast they get indigestion); then, once you’ve managed to get a table, you have to queue to order and pay for your drinks, and then get in a separate queue to order and pay for your food. If you’re as indecisive as I am, then at least the queue will give you time to have a good stare at the blackboard (the only food menu in the restaurant) and watch plates of delicious-looking food come out of the open kitchen. Just make sure you leave someone holding fort at your table, or the next lot of suspicious lurkers will attack.
The menu prides itself on offering fresh modern Australian cuisine, using local produce. Naturally, it contains predominantly seafood options, although there are also a selection of vegetarian and meaty options too.
Although slightly disappointingly not actually served in a bucket, the bucket of prawns was pretty much as simple as it sounds – a bowlful of beautifully pink unshelled prawns, served with a bowl of seafood sauce and a few slices of miche bread. If you don’t like getting your hands dirty and shelling your own prawns, I suggest you overcome this ridiculous apprehension, because these guys are worth the manual labour. These plump pink prawns (the alliteration was unintended but completely appropriate) had a delicious flavour on their own, and tasted even better when dipped in the lovely seafood sauce.
It’s difficult to be beside the seaside and not order fish and chips. The Boathouse’s battered flathead is adorably served in a bamboo dim sum steamer, just to remind us of home, and is quite a hearty portion of three chunky pieces of fish with what my father would call “proper chips.” The batter was thick and crispy, without taking centre stage, and the fish itself was lovely and flaky, and perfectly seasoned.
As is to be expected from any restaurant on Balmoral Beach, prices at The Boathouse aren’t particularly cheap, with some main courses close to AUD40. Thinking about it, however, I think you’d be lucky to find a bucket of prawns for less than HKD250 here in Hong Kong, particularly somewhere with a setting like this. If you’re in no rush, don’t mind queuing and love fresh seafood, I would highly recommend a visit to The Boathouse, even if just to sip on a freshly pressed juice whilst gazing at the beautiful view.
2 The Esplanade
Tel: +61 2 9974 5440