I get to Bathers’ Pavilion super early for lunch and find myself seated at a table overlooking the beach. The staff are super friendly and down to earth… which so good. I decide to order a Bloody Mary to start… (its well before 12pm and the lunch menu hasn’t quite kicked off) I get one those “are you serious” looks and the beautiful waitress even clarifies… you mean “the Bloody Mary with alcohol”? Yes that’s right!
The Bloody Mary arrives and is simply amazing; the fresh ripe juices of the tomato, the kick from the salt rim, the spicy mixture which gives one a jolt in the morning and of course that subtle vodka which creeps into the bloodstream to dull every single one of the senses… except the one that gazes longingly at the beauty of Balmoral Beach.
How good is this view!
Pizzini Pinot Grigio (2013), King Valley (Victoria)
I opt for a Pinot Grigio. The beautiful waft of subtle flowers, herbs and light citrus flow from the the glass to fill the air. The wine has the taste of light fruity pears and the sweetness of the quince with a crisp acidity all the way through. It is the perfect engagingly vibrant wine for the afternoon. It is also the perfect choice for the next dish as this Pinot Grigio’s crispness cuts through the oiliness of the sardines.
Grilled sardines on peperonata croutons, tomato, parsley and minted yoghurt
The perfect, soft sardines do not have the strong fishy taste but have a lovely subtle flowy oily flavour, which along with the juicy fresh tomatoes and drizzle of the light olive oil provide a rich Mediterranean touch to the dish. The yoghurt and lemon adds a light creaminess mixed with a citrus flair, while the crispy crouton base adds a crunchy texture to the other soft textures on the plate. Overall a charmingly light dish to welcome the afternoon.
Spaghetti al nero with cuttlefish ink, cuttlefish, prawns, chilli and lemon zest
I will be the first to admit the dish is not as photogenic as one would like. The dark squid ink defines the aesthetics of the dish… however it is worth it from a taste perspective.
The succulent prawns and calamari interacted perfectly with squid ink to extenuate their flavours, while the squid ink provides a light saline overlay to the dish. The pasta is soft and the squid ink adds a silkiness to it. The chilli interupts the otherwise mild flavours with a spicy kick midway through. It wakes you up so you can lift eyes to absorb the beautiful view. It is again light and simple dish, which is perfect for the beach.
Lusco Do Miño, Zios Albariño (2012), Rias Biaxas (Spain)
I chose this wine more out of curiosity than anything else. The wine has an intense aroma of peaches and herbs which present themselves as the introduction. Then the wonderful sweet dry stone fruit flavours attach themselves to the tongue with a crisp taste but a slight (ever so soft) bitter bite which is left to linger with the wine’s long finish.
I decide a coffee is needed to keep the afternoon in check. Beautiful velvety crema with the mixture of espresso and milk providing a little wake-me-up moment to continue the afternoon.
Chocolate Fondant Cake with Salted Caramel Ice Cream
For dessert its the chocolate fondant cake with salted caramel ice-cream. The soft floury external texture of the cake is pierced to reveal the gooey inner chocolate fondant which is thick and rich and just flows out of its case like oil gushing from a well.
The texture sensation in ones mouth of the doughy crummy cake pieces and smooth velvety rich cocoa flavoured fondant sauce is the most amazing experience one could have. Then the sweetness overload and warmth of the fondant sauce is mixed with the freezing chilll and the ever so slight saline hints of the salted caramel ice-cream. The caramel is a smoky burnt sweet flavour to it, which I couldn’t adequately describe.
I am speechless!
I then decide to wrap lunch, but take moment to admire the view as I head off for the rest of the day. It was such a wonderful experience. The service, the food and the wine was beautiful and the scene… well I don’t think there’s anything quite like it.