This quaint, 18-year-old restaurant at the edge of inner suburban Glebe overlooks the best of Sydney – the beautiful harbour with its coruscating reflections of the city lights.
Friendly staff welcome us; the pumping hot air is a welcome relief from the frosty winter’s night. My date and I are shown to our table, nicely tucked away in the corner of the restaurant and facing the city and harbour, where we can ignore other dinners and focus instead on that incredible view.
Even the staff rave about the location: Franco Ragonese, 24, sous chef for five years, is adamant that “You don’t really get a view like this anywhere else.”
We take advantage of the great range of Australian choices on the drinks menu, ordering a Stone and Wood Lager from Byron Bay, $11, and an Apple Thief Pink Lady Cider from Wondalga, $10. The lager is one of the sweeter beers I have tasted; the cider tastes exactly like ripe Pink Lady apples.
Soon after, our first course arrives – four beautiful plump NSW oysters we have selected from an extensive tasting range.
From left, they are a Port Stephens Pacific ($4.50), a Rusty Wire ($5.50) and a Moonlight Kisses ($4.80), both rock oysters from the South Coast, and a Lemon Tree Passage Pacific from Mid-North Coast ($4.50). The Port Stephens oyster was naturally salty, the Rusty Wire’s subtle flavour is overpowered by the vinaigrette combination but the Moonlight Kisses is tender and sweet. Our favourite is the Lemon Tree Passage oyster – large, plump and juicy, its chewy meaty texture exploding with flavour. The vinaigrette and salt help bring out all the flavours.
Our first shared entrée is the seared Coffs Harbour Bonito with Southern Calamari, Ajoblanco and Pedro Ximenez ($27). The soft, creamy centre of the bonito practically melts in the mouth though the slightly crispy edges add subtle texture. The calamari seems to soak up all the flavours from the tasty juices. The house-made jelly cubes add a contrasting raspberry hit.
The second entrée, Roast Yamba Tiger Prawns with grits and crackling ($27) is cooked to perfection, the prawns oozing juices and flavour at every bite. The pork crackling has just enough crunch, like those prawn crackers you get with Chinese food, and the sauce is delicious.
A rowing eight speed silently past us and under the ANZAC bridge, accentuating the restful atmosphere of the restaurant, somehow making even the hectic city beyond seem beautiful and almost peaceful.
Next thing up, mains – and we order seafood because that’s what the Boathouse specialises in.
Assistant manager Joe Turnaturi, recommends the mackerel but we opt for the signature Snapper Pie with Smoked Tomato and Mash potato. At $48 it’s the most expensive main on the menu (besides the lobsters) and arrives on a trolley, to be dissected and served at the table by our waiter.
At first glance the mash potato could be a sauce, so smooth and creamy is it. Our pie is very meaty, the snapper an amazing mouthful of flavour. The crispy pie crust is perfect and the combined flavours of a seemingly simple dish – potato, snapper and tomato – are truly delicious.
The second main lacks the showmanship of the pie, but the presentation is pretty as the picture: Roast Cone Bay Barramundi with Carrots, Hazelnut and Roast Chicken Juices ($42). The tender barramundi matches delightfully with carrots cooked to perfection, retaining just a hint of crunch to be washed down by that smooth, creamy sauce.
We choose Butternut Pumpkin with Walnuts and Burrata ($14) as our side salad. There’s a slightly nutty undertone while the burrata has a very flat flavour with a sweet milky cream filling. It a surprisingly effective combination with the pumpkin and the walnuts, almost sweet, like a dessert.
Speaking of which…
The first dessert is the Modern Pumpkin Pie Special (all desserts are $18) a deconstructionist’s fantasy come true. There’s pumpkin ice-cream, salted caramel, granola, pastry cream and pumpkin chips. The ice-cream is a heavenly mix of sweet, smooth and creamy made even sweeter by the sauce drizzled over it. The pumpkin chips surrender like puff pastry while the salted caramel and granola provide a more hardcore crunch to counterbalance the soft, creaminess of the rest.
Then it’s on to the Pistachio Cannoli with Rhubarb Ripple Ice-cream and Salted Caramel. The ice-cream’s strong, rhubarb flavour works well with the salted caramel while the crisp cannoli find an ideal partner in the nutty pistachio cream inside. And chocolate sauce as well? Heaven.
We couldn’t resist topping that off with the Snow White Cocktail ($19) – a hedonistic dollop of butter vodka, white chocolate liqueur, cream and hazelnut, the perfect conclusion to a delicious meal.
We loved the atmosphere and the food. That, and friendly helpful service, created a unique and wonderful dining experience. Certainly not cheap on a student budget, but perfect for a special day and a dinner date. – Photos and report by Isabel Williams
Where: 123 Ferry Road, Glebe, Sydney. Access by road or light rail from the CBD (10 minutes) and by water taxi. Wheelchair friendly.
Opens: Lunch noon to 3pm, Friday to Sunday; Dinner from 6pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Mondays.
Phone: (02) 9518 9011 Email: email@example.com