Category Archives: Watsons Bay

It’s the Côte d’Azur of Australia, Watsons Bay Beach Club

Tourist hotspots don’t generally appeal to locals. It’s something about those piercing American accents, bum bags and over-sized, under-used professional cameras. However, the recently renovated Watsons Bay Beach Club, may well be an exception to your anti-tourist radar.

The view from Watsons Bay Beach Club

The view from Watsons Bay Beach Club

Formerly the Watsons Bay Hotel, this new “beach club” takes you to a white-washed seaside oasis. It’s like the Côte d’Azur of Australia, except without the chic French accents. The “club” in the title refers to the multi-purpose use of the venue; there’s dine in or takeaway, a BBQ area, the “Miss Watsons” bar, table tennis, a bottle shop and accommodation plus various function spaces. You can rattle on about the colourful umbrellas and the staff’s Bassike blue-and-white striped uniforms but the main attraction here is the cracking view of Sydney Harbour, the city skyline and the Bridge. If you don’t get that tingly “wow-I-live-in-one-beautiful city’ feeling, then I suggest you hand in your Australian residency because it doesn’t get much better than this.

The nautical theme of the venue

The nautical theme of the venue

When you have views like this, you can’t expect the food to impress too, right? I bite my tongue as we sample Sydney rock oysters and a smoked Snowy River trout pate. Enjoyed with a chilled glass of Stony Peak sav blanc, the quality of the produce impresses. In the mains department, I’m not a tourist but it’s hard to go past the “famous” fish and chips. Sadly, the Coopers batter doesn’t have that light, crisp fluffiness but the chips give this dish a capital F for famous. From the “fresh and green” options, the char grilled chilli and lime octopus salad isn’t char grilled and the dressing could do with some work but it’s a kilojoule-friendly dish for the yummy mummies.

Chilli and lime octopus salad

Chilli and lime octopus salad

Leave your Jesus sandals and matching khaki outfit at home and throw your Polo knit over your shoulder, pull on your chinos and slip on your boat shoes because the Watsons Bay Beach Club is as good as Sydney gets to the French Riviera. If only Johnny Depp thought the same thing too.

Anna Lisle

Read more about the Watsons Bay Beach Club here.

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Jump on a ferry to Sydney’s East – Dunbar House

How is it that we live in a city surrounded by water and yet casual harbour side dining venues are few and far between? Sure, we have Icebergs and ARIA but what about a restaurant that doesn’t sap up half your weekly wage in a few meagre mouthfuls? Not only is Dunbar House located in one of Australia’s oldest standing buildings, it also happens to be 30 metres from the shores of Watsons Bay.

Colourful Missoni fabrics and William Morris wallpaper make up the cafe’s interior

Ask for a table on the sandstone verandah to experience harbour-side dining at its best or, if it’s too windy, head inside where you will discover a chic and elegant sanctuary where groups of Eastern Suburbs ladies enjoy long lunches and high teas. Glamorous gold gilt mirrors hang on walls that have been lined with William Morris paper while custom-made furniture, upholstered using vibrant Missoni fabrics, make up Dunbar’s interior. The elegance isn’t reserved for the décor – high tea is served on pastel-coloured Wedgewood china plates, sauces and stands, all from the Harlequin collection. Looking around, I half expect to see women dressed in full length dresses with gloves and exotic plumes.

From Dunbar’s “Summer Nights” menu – pan fried scallops, blue cheese, radish and witlof.

Despite the suave surrounds, the menu is expansive, with enough options to appease even the fussiest of Eastern Suburbs diners. For breakfast, the waffles with honeycomb butter and poached seasonal fruits are worth an indulgent splurge or for those watching their waistlines, there is a selection of omelettes and dishes such as bircher muesli and house baked granola. The lunch menu puts other café menus to shame with dishes such as salmon ceviche, wagyu meatballs with orecchiette and spiced lamb and haloumi salad. It reminds me of Café Sopra at Fratelli Fresh – and the quality of the ingredients speaks in the same tongue.

Watsons Bay is geographically pretty close to the city (11km to be exact) but it isn’t the easiest place to get to. If you’re visiting during the week, the drive is easy and quick but for weekend bookings, it is best to catch a ferry to avoid the city-to-east traffic.

Anna Lisle

Read more about Dunbar House here

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