Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rick Stein at Bannisters, Mollymook, NSW

enjoying the morning sun on the deck of our ocean view room

English seafood guru and TV chef extraordinnaire Rick Stein, has been very cautious about his first restaurant venture outside his home of Padstow in Cornwall, England. Of all the locations in the world that would kill to have his resident star power he chose the sleepy beachside hamlet of Mollymook on the New South Wales south coast. Bannisters Lodge and Spa already had a highly regarded restaurant but when you re-badge it 'Rick Stein at Bannisters' can you live up to the stratospheric expectations that come with that international reputation?
From early reviews late last year I thought not. Food reviewers were criticial that Rick Stein's many business interests often called him away from Bannisters leaving the very able Julian Lloyd behind the stoves most of the time. Anyone who understands the global demands on stellar chefs knows this criticism is a little unfair. Rick Stein can't be everywhere all the time. But then again when you call your restaurant Rick Stein you know that's what people are expecting occasionally.
We must have been lucky....

cocktails and wine at the bar overlooking the wind-swept headland at Bannisters Point

anything with a glace cherry says summer to me

Blissfully relaxing - Bannisters' infintiy pool is a magical experience. Where does the pool stop and the ocean begin?

Now, on to the main event....

The dining room is clean and simple with white linen table cloths and covered chairs

But it's the view that's the real killer... 

For entree I select the special lobster ravioli with a white wine and cream sauce and spinach

rich flavours, freshest ingredients all perfectly executed

Mark went for the unusual combination of  Oysters Charentaise - natural oysters with hot spicy sausages. The idea is you have an oyster and then take a bite of the sausage. These were delicious especially the spicy sausages.

Guess who popped in to say Hi to a few diners? Monsieur Stein! Mark was clearly thrilled.

onto mains...

Being a truffle tragic I couldn't go past the Fillet of Blue Eye Trevalla with Tasmania Summer Truffles, slivers of potato, mushrooms and truffle oil.

This was so expertly conceived. The truffle was not overpowering (I would say that though) and the fillet was so fresh I could taste the sea. Magnificent.

Crunchy snow peas and broccolini on the side

Mark selected the Indonesian Seafood Curry with Ling, cuttlefish and Mooloolaba prawns ...

The seafood was so fresh and beautifully cooked. But it was the heady, rich coconut sauce that had us swooning. In fact I ate most of it - sorry Mark!

with a side of fragrant basmati and fried onion rice ..

and green beans and fresh coconut salad

Rick, I can see why Mollymook stole your heart and why Bannisters stole ours. We'll be back.

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  1. Looks like a fantastic place!! Love the pool ......and the special appearance by Rick himself - how great is that!!

  2. Thanks for posting this review - I can now twist my husbands arm (not hard) to plan a visit. He'd absolutely love it!

    Cheers - Joolz

  3. Hi Leanne,
    I can't rave about Bannisters more. Want to go back to try out the spa next time. Indira

    Hi joolz,
    Bannisters is a very special place in a very special part of the South Coast. It will become that place I daydream about while I'm sitting is a stuffy office listening to a boring powerpoint presentation! Indira

    Hi rachel,
    Yes we did see Rick Stein and even exchanged some pleasantries about his delicious oyster/sausage combo. He is a lovely man and surprisingly rather shy. Indira

  4. I agree with you that food was lovely, however we thought it was over the top in price and the service was 'patchy' at best. At around $50.00 a main course I would have expected much better service and a better standard of decor. Admittedly our group was placed at a table by the front door (we had booked weeks in advance) and we had the air-conditioner pouring cold air over us for the entire night. Perhaps if we had been seated closer to the views we would not have felt this way, but then again a restaurant that is pitching itself at the top end of the market shouldn't be seating their guests at such a 'bad' table.

  5. Gee, glad I just found this review! I have been wanting to go there since I saw Rick's Fruits de Mer challenge on Masterchef. It is great to see the pics which make my mouth water! Can't wait to get a few days off work and head to the coast to try it.