Ever since it opened its doors in 2016, Yellowtail has been wowing locals and visitors alike with its modern Australian cuisine, fused with Middle Eastern, Asian and Mediterranean flavours. The epitome of a refined but relaxed dining experience, Yellowtail is proof that you don’t need ocean views or swanky décor to impress the culinary crowd.
The chef: Owner and chef Scott Price was born and bred in the rich food bowl of Darling Downs, Queensland. He trained in London under prominent restaurateur Sally Clarke and worked in Brisbane with many great chefs including Simon Palmer, ex-Gerard’s Bistro, and Philip Johnson at hatted restaurant E’cco, before moving to Terrigal. Price has appointed head chef, Alastair Burke, to continue the evolution of the menu.
The menu: An eclectic and bold menu with balanced flavours, always centred around amazing produce, therefore changing regularly. Local seafood is a stand-out, such as mulloway from Port Stephens, served with Japanese dashi made in-house with local seaweed, shitake mushroom and dried bonito. Balanced with soy and enriched with butter, it’s the perfect umami boost with fresh fish.
What’s new: Excitingly, Scott Price is working on another local venue … so watch this space.
THE COWRIE, TERRIGAL
The Cowrie has been a fine-dining institution for decades, offering a classic white tablecloth experience with panoramic views over Terrigal. Shaking things up for 2022, the restaurant has new ownership with a fresh (and more relaxed) look and fresh team that includes alumni from the likes of inimitable restaurants Quay and Aria in Sydney.
The chef: Chef and owner Dimitris Aronis trained and worked at renowned Sydney restaurant, Bathers Pavilion in Balmoral. Following this, he moved to the Coast where he worked as executive chef for an exclusive private catering company before taking over The Cowrie.
The menu: The artfully-prepared menu is centred around sustainability. A hero dish, the Aquna Murray Cod, is a premium, pond-grown Murray cod with one of the lowest environmental footprints in the industry, served with sea vegetables and foraged herbs from the kitchen garden. You’ll also spy Coast-made produce such as Grandma Bees honey and La Tartine bread, while liquors from Distillery Botanica are used to elevate dishes such as freshly shucked oysters from Port Stephens.
What’s new: Chef Aronis has also introduced a brand-new entire plant-based menu, which can be matched with Australian Ikou teas or organic vegan wines.
OSTERIA IL OCCCIA, ETTALONG BEACH
From husband-and-wife team Nicola and Alexandra Coccia, Osteria Il Coccia is a dining experience like no other on the Coast. Centred around fire and fusing the best of Italy and France – where the duo is from respectively – the philosophy is raw and real cooking with little intervention – just love and flames.
The team: Napoli-born Chef Nicola spent his summers in Puglia, watching his grandmother daily handmake pasta and fresh bread. He has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe as well as some of Sydney’s most exclusive restaurants, including Otto and Quay, the former is where he met his French-born wife Alexandra who studied at the exclusive Paul Bocuse Institute in France (school of hospitality). Their first venue together was Bistro Officina in Bowral, where they were twice-awarded a chef’s hat.
The menu: A six-course degustation where every dish is cooked over fire in the charcoal oven, using red gum, yellowbark and hay for fuel, creating distinctive flavours. The menu changes regularly depending on the best produce available, with many regular ingredients made from scratch – including the house-made sourdough bread, smoked cultured butter, ricotta, gnocchi and hand-cut pasta. Each dish is matched with an Italian or French wine, hand-picked by Alexandra and sommelier Luca Scuri.
What’s new: The restaurant has just moved to a beautiful new location opposite the beach and the waters of Broken Bay, at 49 The Esplanade, Ettalong Beach. The new venue has a chef’s table where, for the first time, diners can sit and watch Chef Nicola cook live with fire. There are outdoor lounges for relaxed Italian cocktails or vinos, and weekend lunches are in the works. There’s also a private room for small functions.
SAFRAN, ETTALONG BEACH
Chef Suleyman Kirbancioglu (also known as Sulo) and his wife Natalie had a desire to showcase Turkish cuisine beyond kebabs and pide. So, in 2013, Safran was born, and Turkish cuisine has never tasted so good. Located within The Galleria Ettalong, Safran is a contemporary dining experience, based around authentic Turkish recipes and techniques fused with the flavours of the Middle East, Central Asia, Europe and the Balkans. The restaurant has received multiple awards since opening, including a chef’s hat for three consecutive years.
The team: Suleyman Kirbancioglu grew up in Mengen, Turkey, in a family of culinary excellence. He trained at the renowned Mengen Cooking School and worked in luxury hotels Four Seasons and the Ritz-Carlton in Istanbul before moving to Australia. His wife and restaurant manager, Natalie, was born and bred on the Central Coast.
The menu: The menu is a contemporary interpretation of traditional Turkish cuisine, served as a five-course degustation or a three-course set menu. The menu changes regularly depending on fresh produce. The succulent slow-cooked meats are always a favourite, such as a mulberry glazed 30-hour beef rib or lamb neck, plated beautifully with cauliflower puree, baby carrots and beetroot jus.
What’s next: Safran will be hosting intimate wine events, where each dish is carefully paired with a drop from the wine cellar.
L’ISLE DE FRANCE, TERRIGAL
Nestled under Norfolk Pines with views to Terrigal Beach, L’isle de France is the Coast’s premier French restaurant. The name is a nod to owner Bernard Mallet’s Mauritian heritage along with its menu that reinvents classical French dishes with the flavours of Asia and Africa. The elegant setting is complete with white tablecloths, a cosy fireplace, red leather banquettes, and an ocean-view courtyard adorned in strings of festoon lighting.
Chef Jeremy Pace leads the culinary team. He grew up in Brittany on the northwest coast of France and loves cooking classic French food, particularly seafood and vegetables. Before joining the team in Terrigal, he worked with some of Europe’s great chefs in France including the Michelin one-star restaurant, Le Temps de Vivre, in Roscoff, France, and at Alain Ducasse’s Michelin three-starred restaurant at Plaza Athénée, in Paris. He then worked as Guillaume Brahimi’s senior sous chef at Guillaume at Paddington before assuming the role of Head Chef at Bistro Guillaume Sydney in 2016.
The team: Bernard has gathered a team with impressive credentials. Fabrice le Boulanger, who has worked at Michelin-star restaurants in Europe, is the restaurant’s sommelier and also hails from Brittany.
The menu: The two- and three-course set menu will tempt you with classic French dishes such as escargot, confit duck and beef bourguignon, which are prepared traditionally but presented with a contemporary twist. Oenophiles will enjoy the extensive wine menu that includes wines from regions from Bordeaux to Alsace. There’s also a breakfast menu available on weekends where you can indulge in a classic French le petit-dejeuner of crepes, omelettes, croissants and the like.
What’s next: Did you know that L’isle de France runs gourmet experiences, including tours to the Hunter Valley and Southern Highlands?
ldfgourmetexperience.com.au and lisledefranceterrigal.com.au
THE WILD FLOWER BAR & DINING, KILLCARE
Since swinging open its doors in 2007, Bell’s at Killcare has become a beloved coastal icon, and its restaurant has gratified locals and guests who appreciate culinary excellence. In 2019, the fine-dining destination had a revamp with its character redefined as elegant yet casual. Thanks to its culinary director Sean Connolly, The Wild Flower menu is ‘inspired by food of the sun’, boasting flavours from the Med to Morocco, but above all, it’s about authenticity, simplicity and freshness.
The team: Award-winning executive chef Sean Connolly hails from Yorkshire but has made quite the culinary name for himself in Australia and New Zealand. He heads five renowned restaurants on our shores including Sean’s Kitchen in Adelaide, Gowings at QT Sydney, and was also the man behind the menu at Bon Pavilion. He works together with chef Tony Gibson, ex-Manly Pavilion and Kensington Street Social, and esteemed sommelier Michaela Clayton, who has worked with the likes of Neil Perry and Tetsuya Wakuda.
The menu: The impressive 500 square-metre kitchen garden, which includes an orchard, olive trees, honeybee hives and free-range hens, supplies about 15 per cent of the menu. There’s a local ocean shelf that features dusky flathead, snapper, crayfish and more from local waters including Macmasters Beach, Hardys Bay and Brisbane Water. The pasta and slow-fermented sourdough is also made in-house.
What’s next: The restaurant has a busy calendar of happenings throughout the year including a ‘Trip to the Mediterranean’ dinner series with Sean Connolly and a ‘Lecture and Lunch’ art series. The wine menu will also be extended to include new low- and non-alcoholic wines, as well as orange and natural wines.