A 40-minute drive up the M1 from Gosford, this is a restaurant worth travelling for, and many do. Weekdays may attract a swathe of Lake Macquarie and Central Coast locals, but on weekends it’s largely Sydneysiders and Novocastrians filling the seats. And what lovely seats they are, all custom-designed and made. As I sink into one of the marine-blue lounges at 11.30am, the restaurant begins to fill with diners of all ages, including young mums with prams. Some visitors are here for birthdays, others for a ladies’ day out, and at least one for a few nibbles while he taps away on a laptop in an enviable work-from-home situation.
It’s clear that 8 at Trinity Managing Director, Natalie Johnson, has a background in interior design; the restaurant has a Parisian salon air about it. That’s largely thanks to the impressive marquee and boundless greenery, but also to the finer touches, such as the delicate cocktail glasses. The cocktails are reason alone to lure you here, with the syrups made in-house. I highly recommend the Clouds of Passion with vanilla vodka and white chocolate liqueur.
‘We’ve got a huge cocktail list and it’s very complex,’ Natalie says.
‘Visually (the cocktail) looks amazing, it tastes amazing and we’re giving value for money in quite a large glass.’
As for the food, it’s flawless. Burrata cheese fans will be delighted to see it feature in a number of dishes, while carnivores will be thrilled there’s a tomahawk steak on the large modern Australian menu. I sample melt-in-your-mouth hand-made gnocchi, tender scallops and the best kingfish ceviche (with zesty finger lime) I’ve ever eaten. Then there’s the de-boned ocean perch in tempura batter – it’s served whole and is a head-turner. To finish is a silky reinvention of the cheesecake that’s better than the classic. The attention to detail is arguably unrivalled in the region.
‘Nothing from the bar or kitchen goes out without my tick,’ Natalie says. ‘I have to be crazy about it for it to go on the menu.’
The former chef has ensured there is plenty of variety for the 1,000 people that visit each day. There are hand-cut chips and pizza for those seeking scrumptious simplicity, several seafood options (the crab spaghettini is popular), and premium red meat. Although Natalie’s chefs may be challenged to perfect so many dishes, she is passionate about pleasing her customers, and ensuring there’s variety. In spite of our stunning surroundings, she assures me 8 at Trinity isn’t fine dining but ‘resort casual’.
‘If you’re here with your family and your kids and you just want to buy a $25 pizza, you can afford to come here and have an amazing experience, or you can come here and have a nine-plus score wagyu tomahawk (1.5kg) and a Grange if you want,’ Natalie says.
‘It’s something for everybody – that is the secret – without feeling intimidated.’
As impressed by the restaurant as I am, it’s only a pop-up. In about three years, it will all be redesigned as part of a five-star hotel that will also include luxury apartments, two large restaurants, outdoor areas and a pool. The marina will eventually have 188 berths, with half currently built. There will also be a floating pontoon tennis court and a helipad as part of the 23-hectare project that will revitalise the region and see it become a destination, more than it already is. Natalie’s vision is to create a place where people feel like they’ve gone overseas.
‘I wanted people to feel that they’re not in Morisset, that they’ve gone to another country. So when you walk in you feel like you could be anywhere in the world.’
8 at Trinity is open for lunch and dinner, Thursday to Sunday. Check out the menu at 8attrinitypoint.com.au
The writer was a guest of 8 at Trinity.
WORDS JENNIFER ENNION