CREST Café, Birubi Beach

fish and chips

The magical view of Birubi Beach makes CREST Café one of the best spots to have a modern interpretation of a perennial Australian favorite – fish and chips!

birubi beach

We had just walked over from the car park when the sound of breaking surf crashing over the beach lured us over. It was a beautiful morning and the rain that accompanied our dolphin watching expedition earlier in the morning had gone away and the sun was starting to shine.

crest cafe

CREST Birubi Beach is located just by the seaside and you can smell the wonderful surf as you walk into the modern café. I heard it has just recently been refurbished for several million dollars and it looks modern, minimalistic and clean.

Fat Yak Pale Ale

It’s a beautiful spot for lunch! I browsed the menu and instantly spotted what I wanted – fish and chips! This isn’t your dad’s fish and chips shop mind, they use Fat Yak beer batter from the artisan brewery in Matilda Bay to coat the fish and they also serve Fat Yak beer on tap!

Minimum Chips Golden Lager

There are two fine craft beers from Matilda Bay Brewing Company on tap – (Hand Cut) Minimum Chips Golden Lager (AUD 6) and Fat Yak Pale Ale (AUD 6). I thought the former was a hilarious name for a beer and would have been the logical choice for fish and chips beer batter coating. We ordered a pint of both to try out.

Fat Yak beer battered flathead, chips, dill aioli and salad (AUD 20)

fat yak beer flathead chips

This is the beautiful craft beer battered fish, which almost everyone ordered. The flathead is a very unusual fish with eyes on the top of its head (like a skate or stringray). CREST Birubi Beach does it beautifully – the fish was local and fresh with a nice coating of Fat Yak craft beer batter. It flaked off nicely and the chips were done to perfection, going very well with the dill aioli.

I found myself wanting more, even though the portions were rather generous. People kept stealing my chips and dill aioli dip too, which goes to show how good this dish is.

fat yak me

It went very well with the Fat Yak Pale Ale that I ordered. I felt it was poetic to have both Fat Yak beer on my food as a batter *and* as a drink. The Minimum Chips Golden Lager is slightly more refreshing but the IPA style Fat Yak runs more towards my tastes.

crest cafe birubi beach

The magical view of Birubi Beach makes CREST Café one of the best spots to have a modern interpretation of a perennial Australian favorite – fish and chips! It was our final lunch before leaving the Port Stephens area for Sydney and I have to say, it was a very memorable one. I even put the picture of me drinking the Fat Yak craft beer as my Facebook profile picture!

CREST Café
Birubi Beach Surf Club
73, James Paterson Street
Anna Bay, New South Wales

Seafood platter @ Vues on the Bay, Port Stephens

me seafood platter

This is the very first meal I had during my recent trip to New South Wales! We arrived at Sydney in the morning and drove 2 ½ hours to Port Stephens for lunch. I’ve had quite a few seafood platters in Australia and it always has a hot and cold component.

seafood platter cold

I thought I saw a Moreton Bay Bug at the bottom left of the cold platter and I asked about it. The waitress wasn’t sure so she went to ask the cook, who came back with the answer – it’s a Balmain Bug! It’s also another species of slipper lobster and looks a lot like the Moreton Bay Bug but the Eastern Balmain Bug (officially called butterfly fan lobster) is more common around NSW.

fresh oysters

The cold components of the dish are mud crabs, the Balmain bug, plenty of oysters and prawns with a side of salad and fresh fruits. I’ve eaten several seafood platters during my time in Australia and these ingredients are always the same, although sometimes you’ll get a regular lobster as well as the bug.

vues on the bay

The seafood items in this platter are all boiled and shocked in ice water so it’s eaten cold and I’ve always like the style of this execution. The oysters are a little small in this case, but they’re all local and not flown thousands of miles away coz oysters don’t taste good after a long journey. This was at Vues on the Bay, a very playfully named Australian cuisine restaurant right in the middle of town. Yup, this is the hub of Port Stephens with a wonderful view of the pier.

vues view

Interesting fact: Port Stephens only has one (1) traffic light in the entire township and it’s right in front of this restaurant. The residents petitioned very hard against it since they didn’t want any traffic lights in their town. :)

seafood platter hot

This being Australia, the hot component of the seafood platter has plates laden with thick cut chips, like the ones you’ll get at the local fish and chip shop, and calamari (battered and fried squid). I like how modern Australian cuisine don’t do it in ring shapes but either cigar shaped (very nice) or thick curly (like this one).

I love the calamari here, it’s so fresh that you don’t get the off-putting taste of squid and it’s soft and practically dissolves in your mouth the moment you bite into it.

Sandboarding in Port Stephens, Australia

sandboarding

Have you ever tried sandboarding? It’s a little like snowboarding except you’re doing it on sand dunes instead of alpine slopes. Also, you don’t have the same control a snowboard gives you since a sandboard is literally a skateboard with all the wheels and lower half removed.

sandboarding dunes

It’s quite fun though since the sand dunes in Port Stephens, Australia is very high. You’ll be surprised since there’s not a lot of shadows and contrast in the desert (it’s actually a beach) so it’s hard to tell distance and height. This sand dune we went down on is easily 30 feet high.

sandboarding port stephens

I hear that some children can actually stand up while sandboarding and do stunts. I don’t know how though since you’re not physically attached to the sandboard (unlike a snowboard, so you can do an Ollie, which is just about the only trick I know). Haha!

Check out the video of me sandboarding! I managed to go the furthest. The only way to control your descent is to use your hands to steer / slow down. You can actually carve the slopes dunes if you’re good enough, but the sandboard itself is pretty basic so you need at least one hand behind you to navigate.

sandboard

…and unlike other places where we actually have to *climb* back up the sand dune to do it again, we were on a quad bike expedition (also known as ATVs in the US) so we had the quads to drive back up the sand dunes (as you can see in one of the photos as I forgot to take the protective cover off my head).

It’s a blast, I’ll love to do it again! :)

Dinner at Little Beach Boat House, Port Stephens

boathouse

Little Beach Boat House is a quaint little place just beside the bay at Port Stephens. You can hear the waves coming in at night and the wait staff is a duet of twins! The two Aussie girls look so much like each other that I just had to take a photo of them.

waitress aussie twins

The service is attentive and friendly and they had a special of the day, which I ordered. I actually recorded one of the twins reciting the dish in question so I can remember it, and she kindly obliged. Heh. This is one of the best restaurants in town according to Sharon, who dined with us last night.

popcorn

There was popcorn on the table – a growing trend that I’ve noticed in a lot of restaurants, who serve this in lieu of bread. I think it’s great! The dishes has a bit of a modernist twist in them too, with foams, purees and jelly sauce components on most of the dishes.

Entree

Seared Scallops ($19.00)
Cauliflower puree, chorizo, salsa verde, roasted corn

seared-scallops

This is really good! I like how the seared scallops and chorizo pairs up. Wei Zhi and I ordered different entrees and mains so we could try different things on the menu and this is her order.

Beef Cheek & Potato Croquette ($18.00)
W/ pee puree, binnorie feta & black garlic mayo

beef cheek croquette

I was more interested in beef cheek – a cut which is really flavorful if done right and they do it well here. It’s generously mixed into the crispy potato croquette and a nice touch is the black garlic mayo (the fermented garlic we use to make bak kut teh back home).

turkish bread

Toasted Turkish Bread ($10)
W/ balsamic & olive oil, garlic & herb butter, hommous and olive & feta tapenade

Mains

Miso Glazed Salmon ($33.00)
W/ soy roasted sweet potato, cashews, steamed greens and sesame & rice wine dressing

miso glazed salmon

I’m not a huge fan of salmon but according to Sharon (who also watches MasterChef Australia and offered me some) they did everything right in the “checklist” – crispy skin, no bones, juicy inside.

Seared Veal Medallions ($34.00)
W/ Jerusalem artichokes, baby spinach, green beans and parmesan & sage butter

veal medallions

I’ve cooked Jerusalem artichokes before, which is totally different from the globe artichoke. I ordered a Sauvignon Blanc which goes very well with my fish dish but makes the veal tastes rather bitter.

Crispy Skin Barramundi ($39.00)
Saltwater barramundi with roast pumpkin, broccolini, cherry tomatoes, bacon and a pee puree

barramundi

This is my order, the special of the day. I didn’t know it was fried though, since I don’t particularly like grilled fish (any other cooking method is better) but I kept an open mind. I wanted to eat barramundi since Australia is one of two countries where you can find it. I asked the waitress for a wine pairing and she suggested either Sauvignon Blanc or a Riesling but “personally I’ll go for the former”.

sauvignon blanc

I took her advice and it tasted great with the barramundi! The Sauvignon Blanc is very sweet and pairs well with the fish. The skin of the barramundi is crisp and it’s a classic white fish which flakes well but has a stronger taste than other popular white fish like cod and John Dory. The barramundi is excellent when eaten with the sweet and smoky roast pumpkin though!

Boathouse ‘3 Pigs’ ($36.00)
Crispy pork belly, pork schnitzel, prosciutto, parmesan, chorizo, corn cob, bacon mayo & apple jam

boathouse 3 pigs

This is probably the restaurant’s flagship dish. It came on a huge wooden platter and has 3 (three) different pork items on it, including a crispy pork belly the size of a small steak! It’s beautiful and the apple jam has been jellyfied, giving it a bit of a modernist twist.

little boat house

The dinner at Little Beach Boat House was great, and the company better – we talked late into the night about everything, and I learned a lot about the Port Stephens area too. Tourism New South Wales and Tourism Australia picked up the bill (thanks Duglass and Sharon) and we all had a bit of fun with the friendly twin waitresses who look so much alike! :)

twin waitresses

I’m still at Port Stephens, heading back to Sydney later! I’ll be here until next week and you can follow what I’m up to on my other social media channels coz I got an AUD 2 per day data plan!

http://instagram.com/sixthseal
https://twitter.com/sixthseal
https://www.facebook.com/SixthSealcom

Posted: 8:53 am Sydney time (GMT +2)

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