Wait a second, if you’re all here then who’s watching the Canberra?
Welcome to the South Coast of New South Wales, mid-summer. Growing up in Batemans Bay we dreaded the few weeks when our roads would be inundated with blue and white number plates; somewhat of a conundrum for me now that I am more ACT local than coastal dweller. But, I power straight through that hypocrisy like it was Bungendore as I make my way down the Clyde for regular doses of salty air.
You may think, as a foodie, that I would have tried each and every restaurant in and around my hometown. Yet you would be incredibly wrong.
You see, when visiting the coast we stay with my wonderful mum, a magnificent cook who – I’m pretty sure – first articulated the sentiment “Why would I pay $20 at a restaurant when for that price I can make a whole schnitzel feast at home?” In order to partake in even one purchased parcel of fish and chips, we need to mount a strategic mission of sufficient stealth and cunning to make any ninja proud.
Mum: “If you just went to get milk, why are you all so greasy?”
Me: “No reason.” *wipes face*
Nothing says ‘seaside getaway’ quite like sauerkraut and schnitzel but, in the name of research, I risked all to bring you my five favourite seafood eats from our Christmas visit to Batemans Bay. (Hint: they’re not all fish and chips!)
1. Ocean Grill on the Bay
Address: 9/13 Clyde St, Batemans Bay
Phone: (02) 4472 4452
As you come across the bridge and enter ‘the Bay’ (hot local tip: please don’t call it Batemans!) you may almost miss this little gem of a takeaway shop. While the well-worn pathways of your brain lead you straight to the most obvious choice in town, stop short and give this business a go – it’s my FAVOURITE. I didn’t bother saving the best for last. Crispy, flavourful fish, great chips and big portions. Service is fast and friendly.
Cute tidbit – it actually sits on the same spot where, as a five year old, I took my mum ‘out’ for a surprise Mother’s Day lunch, ordering and paying by myself. She, of course, still recalls that she could have made a whole meal for that price.
2. Berny’s at Batehaven
Address: 246 Beach Rd, Batehaven
Phone: (02) 4472 4947
Hand. Cut. Chips. People. Goodness knows how they keep up with demand – there’s often a line out the door – but I can only assume there’s some super human chipper busting them out behind the scenes. The fish is really tasty and not too greasy… though with fish and chips, I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t a little greasy, right? I recommend the ling. Throw in a few tender calamari rings and crumbed prawns for good measure. Berny’s also offers fresh oysters and prawns if you want to mix things up.
Bonus points if you eat them at Corrigans then head over to the Carnival.
3. Surf Beach Cafe and Takeaway
Address: 647 Beach Rd, Surf Beach
Phone: (02) 4471 3522
If you haven’t been here in a few years, the old takeaway has well and truly had a facelift. From the old school days, when you quickly grabbed some chips and went off to loiter in the carpark, it’s now positively hip! Instead of the Oak Milk of my youth, the husband now grabs himself a post-surf Iced Latte. And the fish and chips are delicious. Fish and chips don’t really need a lot of adjectives: they’re either good or not. These are very good. The locale is still ideal for loitering and ice cream selection is good.
Family travellers: Surf Beach has everything: toilets, showers, playground, shops, and lifeguards. Of course, if you say you’re from Canberra and you don’t know Surf Beach, you’re lying.
4. Pickled Octopus Seafood and Thai Cafe
Address: 93D Trafalgar Rd, Tuross Head
Phone: (02) 4473 6084
As a teenager my high school English teacher (who lived there) jokingly referred to Tuross as ‘heaven’s waiting room’, owing to the average age of its inhabitants. Young or old, if you’re feeling peckish the Pickled Octopus has been serving up delicious food for years. More recently it has come under the auspices of the lovely Bee who has turned it into a Thai restaurant with a new alfresco eating area right on the water, serving street food. We enjoyed some spring rolls, satay chicken and Penang curry but upstairs, where the vibe is more fine dining, I hear the snapper with plum sauce is unbeatable.
And yes, they also serve fish and chips.
5. The Oyster Shed on Wray Street
Address: 5 Wray St, North Batemans Bay
Phone: (02) 4472 6771
On your way out of town, hang a left just past the new servo (classic example of how locals will call something ‘new’ even though it’s been around for a decade) and then the second right along Muddy Beach (which may also not be its real name). The road to oyster heaven is narrow but, have faith. The bright blue house is your purveyor of the freshest oysters and prawns, all ready to eat or to take home. I am in love with their updated setup which lets you sit on the water to eat and even grab a quality cup of coffee.
Takeaway trivia: If you’re buying un-shucked oysters to take home, keep them out of the fridge because they’re actually ALIVE. Google it.
These five should keep you well fed for a little while. And if you’re still hungry, call into my mum’s place for some European style feasting. But if she asks? I know nothing!
For more of my coastal – and family – adventures, follow me on Instagram @photobeforeweeat
This article was not sponsored or coordinated by any of the businesses mentioned.