Back about 25 years ago, my folks owned and ran a fish shop on the upper North Shore. I therefore grew up in the back room – with a fold-out lounger, the TV permanently set on ABC Kids and my toys, I wanted for nothing. As I got a bit older, I became more adventurous, venturing out of the back room and coming into the main store to see what was going on. The Sister and my parents never fail to tease me about how “flirtatious” I was with the customers, crawling onto the chairs beside those who were eating in and garbling incoherently to them while I shared their chips. My parents, aghast, would quickly serve the customer with another portion. It didn’t just end there, I at one stage actually wandered out of the shop itself. My parents searched high and low for me in a panic, to find me in the fruit and vegetable grocer next door, fast asleep amongst the orange display.
I find it funny how through my younger and adolescent years I never particularly enjoyed seafood, not even fish or prawns. I learned to love them at the start of my twenties, and only two years ago have forgotten my aversion to sashimi and am officially hooked on salmon nigiri. Scallops are my weakness, and I’m slowly training myself to eat raw oysters.
I now love seafood restaurants, and it was with great anticipation that I attended Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay with the ladies of 13 Restaurants for 2013 on a sunny Saturday. Boathouse is located near Glebe, and conveniently close to the Sydney Fish Markets. If it’s this close – the seafood must surely be nothing short of amazing. And with a Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide hat to its name, it must be worth me paying them a visit.
The floor-to-ceiling windows let in a generous amount of natural light and the gorgeous view across Blackwattle Bay. The interior is interestingly designed, with modern artwork, wooden floorboards and old streetlamps and speakers to add ambience. A fence of chicken wire runs around the inner edge of the windows, and it feels almost as though you’re dining right on a wharf.
Our waitress, Felicity, greeted us with a beaming smile and I’ll say from the outset that it was her outstanding service, personality and attentiveness that made our experience here incredible. We started off with drinks, with myself going for my favourite refreshing combination of mint and lime in their Catamaran. Havana Bianco Rum, Fresh Ginger, Mint, Lime and Sugar ($18).
The bread basket that arrived was overwhelmingly generous, full of different types of bread and accompanied with a little dish of creamy butter.
Two of the ladies decided to share an entree, and ordered the Miso glazed Shell Harbour Bonito, with Sweetcorn, Seared Scallops, and Puffed Wild Rice ($27).
The bonito had quite an intense, stronger taste, but the flesh was incredibly smooth – reminding me almost of a white sausage. The dish was a very light, beautifully presented entree to start a meal.
Unfortunately, one of our crowd was allergic to seafood (of all the restaurants to come to!) so selected the Chargrilled Rangers Valley Wagyu Flank Steak, with Jerusalem Artichoke Puree, Shallots and Bone Marrow ($45) which was cooked to a beautiful medium rare.
The rest of us ordered as follows. The Roast Bowen Barramundi, with Carrot Puree, Hazelnuts, Roast Chicken Juices ($41):
The Steamed Palmers Island Mulloway, with Abalone, Shitake Mushrooms and Duck Consomme ($41):
Myself and another had selected the Roast Browns Mountain Blue Eye Trevalla, with Peas, Pancetta, Spanner Crab and Lettuce ($41). I quite enjoyed the creamy-yet-light essence of the dish with the gorgeously salty nuggets of pancetta and still-crunchy lettuce.
Our more adventurous friend Fashion Obsessed Girl had selected one of the crabs on the menu, being the 850g Wok Fried Ballina Spanner Crab, with Black Bean, Chilli and Ginger ($45):
Eating it was the predicted messy, finger-licking affair, but the crab was cooked amazingly well and full with sweet, tender meat. Eating it was so complex and at one point where her fork slipped off the table with a clatter, before we could even blink and reach for it, a waiter was at our table with a clean replacement. Talk about service!
The rest of us had finished our mains well before Fashion Obsessed Girl, and not wanting to pressure her but thinking we may as well be productive while she finished up, we decided to order dessert.
The Banana Souffle, with Milk Chocolate and Peanut Ice Cream ($18) arrived magnificently in its own little copper saucepan – so cute that I wanted to take it home! The souffle was light-as-air yet crammed full of flavour.
The Pistachio Cannoli, with Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream, Salted Caramel ($18) would have been the perfect accompaniment to a small, strong coffee..but was perfect by itself already!
The Buttermilk Pannacotta, with Watermelon Granita, Strawberries ($18) was nicely refreshing, the only let down being the granita which had mostly melted by the time it arrived at our table.
I was deliriously happy with my Honeycomb Parfait, with Poached Quince, Olive Oil and Rose ($18). Some of the ladies found the honeycomb a little too sweet, but I adore honey and underneath its sweetness could still taste its subtle tones and depth.
Fashion Obsessed Girl had a cocktail for dessert instead, selecting the Snow White: Mozart White Chocolate Cream, Butter 666 Vodka, Liquor 43 & Pistachio ($19):
And a sneaky side word to the kitchen that we were celebrating Fashion Obsessed Girl’s birthday can’t do any harm. Out came complimentary petit fours, being chewy, buttery caramels coated in deliciously crunchy toasted sesame seeds.
A fabulous luncheon. I have no hesitation in saying that I will re-visit this place the next time a special occasion calls for a wonderful meal, fresh seafood and efficient, friendly service. We truly felt like VIPs dining here; an experience which is often so hard to find in Sydney restaurants these days.
Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay
123 Ferry Road
Glebe, NSW 2037
(02) 9518 9011