When I set off on a four week excursion to Australia and New Zealand, I knew one thing for sure … I was going to eat at some the best venues in each country and I was going to enjoy every bite! From market fresh produce to some of the world’s most innovative fine dining, foodies traveling to Australia have plenty to keep their palates entertained and satisfied.
Australia has an exciting array of native ingredients and a food culture that’s always evolving, as international trends are reimagined and adapted by local chefs using their native ingredients. Not only did we indulge in unique flavors, but we enjoyed them in one-of-a-kind settings with amazing ambiance. Here are my picks for the best Australian food experiences.
BONDI HARDWARE– To kick off our adventure in Australia, we wanted to start off with a bomb meal, so there was a lot riding on our experience over at Bondi Hardware. Opened in late November 2011, the new look of Bondi Beach Hardware was revealed. What was once a place for local tradesman and DIY enthusiasts, the site underwent a complete transformation, reopening it’s doors as a vibrant and welcoming bar, restaurant and event space. The Bondi Hardware menu, wine and cocktail list showcases the absolute best of what Bondi, and Australia has to offer.
To take the post plane ride edge off we ordered the “Bondi In Bloom,” made with Beefeater gin, elderflower, apricot, orange bitters, lemon, cucumber, and whites. It was the perfect mix between sweet and sour, and definitely had a kick to it, their Old Fashioned, which was extremely well blended and smooth, and then the “Tommy’s” Margarita – El Jimador Plata Tequila, Triple Sec, Lime, Sugar – which was classic and refreshing.
We decided to start with some chips and guac to make us feel at home, the blue corn tortilla chips and glorious green guacamole were fresh and delicious. It was simple, but the texture was perfect. We also ordered the Jerk Chicken Slider appetizer – Caribbean spiced chicken, pineapple salsa, jerk sauce, and the Baja Fish Taco appetizer – turmeric market fresh fish, strawberry salsa, green chili mayo.
The slider reminded me of a mini Krabby Patty from SpongeBob Squarepants, and even though there was only one it was totally shareable. However, if more than two people are going to want a bite of your slider, maybe consider ordering more than one. The flavors were a perfect combination of jerk chicken goodness. The ingredients were fresh and delicious.
The Baja Fish Taco was a unique blend of ingredients, it did not taste like something you would get in America, a very unique twist on a fish taco, super fresh and delicious.
For the main event we went with the Cone Bay Barramundi – fresh fish, fennel puree, black rice, pickled fennel, burned butter tomato salsa and the Riverina lamb rump – roasted cauliflower, Israeli couscous, pomegranate, tahini yogurt. The fish dish was small in size but large in flavor. The mix of sauces along with the three Barramundi medallions with lentils was very satisfying. Again, top notch, fresh as could be.
The lamb combination was what one would call a mastery of flavor – including almonds, pomegranate, couscous, cauliflower, and the star of the show, a gorgeous rack of lamb. This meal was just done right, and tasted effortlessly clean. The lamb itself was cooked perfectly and paired deliciously with its accompanying flavors.
Overall, Bondi Hardware is a place I would recommend to anyone looking for a highly shareable, highly satisfying meal with a cool but comfortable atmosphere. This spot was the perfect introduction to our Australian food adventure. Bondi Beach is a place over flowing with adorable, trendy, outdoor eateries. But Bondi Hardware is definitely one you don’t want to miss.
BILLS – Bills at Bondi Beach is a great spot to eat with a chill vibe that makes it the perfect spot to bring friends and family, or open up your laptop to get some work done. The interior is simplistic with a modern, cool flair. We went for breakfast so the atmosphere make escalate at night, but in the morning hours, it was bright cheerful and a great spot to eat, engage, network and work.
The coffee is a home run at Bills! Bold with a fantastic flavor and more substantial then watered down American coffee, but a heftier portion than traditional Australian coffee. We were lucky enough to get a taste of their big breakfast menu and a sample some of the lunch menu – and both delivered.
The eggs were fluffy and light. Not overcooked and downright yummy. They served as the perfect base to the ‘Full Aussie’ option on the menu. Paired with fresh sausage links and bacon, this meal packs a heavy breakfast punch. Each part of the meal was perfect to enjoy on its own, or perfect to craft into your own sandwich on the Bills signature bread.
The Cobb salad was not only a treat to eat, but an absolute stunner of a bowl. I worked out before coming so I added in some chicken for protein. Each bite was wonderfully flavorful and tasted fresh. Highly recommend the Cobb salad! Overall, Bills is a great spot to grab breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s perfect for socializing, but also a sweet hub to lock in and get some work done – while enjoying top notch cuisine.
SEAROCK GRILL – Set against beautiful Sydney Harbor, Searock Grill boasts rare and breathtaking views of arguably the most beautiful backdrop in the world. Guests appreciate the relaxed elegance that overlooking the harbor delivers. Perfect for lunch, dinner or a lazy weekend breakfast, Searock Grill is the perfect place to watch the world stroll by. Located in the center of East Circular Quay, Searock Grill is the perfect place to stop for a delicious meal and a stunning view of the Sydney Harbor, we recommend heading over around sunset because the view is absolutely incredible. Focused on serving the highest quality produce, sourced from sustainable supplies across Australia, this place is your go-to for a killer seafood or steak feast.
In addition to being known for some delicious surf and turf, Searock knows how to get a buzz on with an extensive wine list and some gorgeous looking – and tasting – cocktails. We tried both the Raspberry Lime Mojito – Bacardi superior white rum, Chambord, raspberry puree, and fresh lime – and the Passion Potion – Belvedere vodka, Passoa, citrus mix, and fresh passion fruit. Each one was creatively satisfying with fresh ingredients and genius mixology in mind.
The Indulgence Platter is by far the stand out dish on the menu, a culinary adventure that allows you to share a platter full of freshly shucked Sydney rock oysters, prawns, Moreton Bay bugs, mussels, blue swimmer crab with a fresh whole lobster from Western Australia to top off the platter.
When it comes to meat, Searock Grill is the place to be with over eight different cuts of steak to choose from, including a 45 day dry-aged sirloin on the bone from Jack’s Creek NSW and BMS9+ Wagyu scotch filet from renowned 2GR full blood Wagyu in Wagga Wagga. Like any good steak house, Searock also has over ten sides to choose from, so you can create the steak dinner of your dreams. And we did just that.
In addition to steak we tried the Kangaroo tenderloin fillets – when in Australia! This dish came with cauliflower puree, asparagus, and red wine jus, tender and delicious. In addition to fantastic food, Searock is definitely a restaurant for all occasions. With a beautiful 50-seater private dining room, this hidden oasis features full glass doors that open on the harbor promenade. Perfect for any special celebration, and the events team will tailor a food and beverage package just for you. The ambiance alone is a good reason to stop by the Searock, but it is the personal touches, the incredible service, and carefully curated menus that make Searock a must go destination in Sydney. You won’t go home disappointed or hungry!
GARDEN BISTRO– Airlie beach is an incredibly beautiful and quaint small town positioned directly on the water and known for being just a boat ride away from the epic Great Barrier Reef. We had just come from Sydney, a vast city of cuisine and fine dining, so when it came to food I was not totally sure what to expect. What they would serve, or honestly how great it would be? So, it is definitely safe to say that we were pleasantly surprised by the Garden Bistro.
The Garden Bar Bistro, a contemporary bar and bistro, is set right on the waterfront at the award winning Coral Sea Marina Resort, Airlie Beach, Queensland. The Garden Bar Bistro has stunning water views overlooking the breath-taking views of the Whitsunday Islands and Coral Sea. Blending comfortable seating and stylish design, incredible marina views and lush tropical greenery, The Garden Bar Bistro offers the perfect place for afternoon drinks, sunset cocktails or an appetizing meal with an ice-cold beer. Focused on quality food, quality service and creating memorable moments, The Garden Bar Bistro captures the energy of the Whitsunday lifestyle with a relaxed yet spirited atmosphere.
Airlie definitely has a vacation vibe, palm trees, blue skies, gorgeous oceans, the whole nine; so, when it came to drinks we definitely wanted to order something fun, fruity, and frozen (duh). We ordered the #1 and the #2. Both drinks were spectacularly crafted, and thoroughly enjoyed by our Boston-based souls, brain freeze free.
It was our first night out in Airlie. We had a long day of travel, so we were ready to EAT! Per recommendation of two hungry adventurers, we ordered the Garden Bar Share Platter which included crispy calamari, chicken wings, and Cuban fish tacos served with garden salad, house chips and garlic bread. It had everything we could have wanted and was definitely something us two, and probably a group of up to four, could easily share. Each component came out hot and delicious, an extremely satisfying platter that included something for everyone.
To top off our first night on Airlie beach dessert was a must, we ordered the Affogato – my new personal favorite dessert, a mix of Frangelico, espresso, and vanilla ice cream, and the creme brulee which was light and yummy. The two cured our sweet tooth and was the perfect cherry on top of the Garden Bistro cake. The Garden Bistro was the perfect first stop on our Airlie Beach adventure. Sitting outside by the water with twinkly lights covering the outdoor dining area was simply special – a great welcome to Airlie. Garden Bistro is a fun spot for friends, families, vacationers and locals alike to come and enjoy themselves in a beautiful atmosphere.
SORRENTO– If you are looking for a true experience of a meal, then you must head to Sorrento. The ambiance is instantly intriguing as the waves crash up again the store and the live music humming into the wind. We got the perfect seat — adjacent from the waves and the sunset.
FUNCTIONS ~ on the lower deck or ocean deck, the sunsets are both spectacular @sorrento_airlie_beach @coralseamarina @visitwhitsundays #lovewhitsundays #thisisqueensland #holidayherethisyear #functionspace #enjoylife #loveairliebeach #seeaustralia
Posted by Sorrento Restaurant and Bar Airlie Beach on Saturday, March 14, 2020
Overlooking the award winning Coral Sea Marina, Sorrento Restaurant & Bar offers guests from near and far a relaxed dining and social experience with unparalleled views of the Whitsundays. Their bar area provides a casual and relaxed atmosphere. Stunning views of the Whitsundays are accompanied by live acoustic music, bar menu and dining, an impressive drinks selection, including cocktails and draft beer and friendly service.
Upstairs, Sorrento’s offers a full service dining experience in the newly renovated Ocean View Deck. In a contemporary coastal space, their chefs source the finest fresh local ingredients to fully compliment the tropical location. With breathtaking views and literally the greatest garlic bread I have ever had, we recommend unwinding with some apps and their unique cocktail selection as the sun sets, then be seated to experience some amazing.
To start out the night we ordered some cocktails which were a pleasant complement to the meal. Aesthetically, they are very vibrant with classy touches. They were perfectly mixed, upscale party cocktails – just the right amount of alcohol paired with exotic flavors that satisfied both your taste buds and your desire to get a buzz on.
To start out we ordered the Tropicana pizza. The crust was fluffy, the ham was fresh, and the pineapple tasted freshly cut, a fantastic sweet touch to the salty ham. The pizza was light but not greasy, with strategically placed toppings. It was crispy, flavorful and downright memorable.
The entrees at Sorrento were my favorite in all of Airlie Beach, which is no easy task given the various options. The Filetto Fettuccine was to die for, house made fresh pasta, chicken tenderloins, pancetta, wild mushrooms, spinach and pine nuts tossed through creamy gorgonzola & truffle sauce, and the Marinara Risotto which came with prawns, scallops, mussels, claims, salmon, saffron, and tarrago. Both were absolutely unbelievable.
To end this fabulous meal we ordered the decadent Chocolate Chip Cheese Cake with vanilla ice cream and the Coffee Cream Tiramisu – espresso & marsala infused vanilla sponge, with fresh mascarpone & cream… absolutely delicious. From the fantastic location right on the water with the best view of the sunset, to the incredible Italian appetizers and entrees, Sorrento was simply sublime, an absolute must visit while in Airlie Beach.
ANCHOR BAR – Set high above Airlie Beach overlooking the Islands and Coral Sea, serving modern cocktails and funky food in a laid back terrace bar complete with a pool and spa, Anchor Bar the perfect spot to grab some drinks and have some fun! Sitting by a cool blue pool, taking in a skyline view and an exciting large menu, it’s almost impossible to not have a good time at Anchor Bar.
We were treated to the Jamaican Me Crazy, a rum based, coconut sprinkled cocktail that brings out your inner pirate in a matter of minutes. Highly recommended! Most bars don’t think of the finer details when it comes to food. But Anchor Bar has a huge menu.
The burger was filled with fresh ingredients and juicy meat. Paired with the sweet potatoes fries and a classic AU sunset, it makes for a great, casual meal. Whether you are looking to catch the sunset, take a dip in the pool, or grab some food and drink – Anchor Bar has it all.
Australia is a beautiful country filled with an endless abundance of adventure and culture. From eating fresh seafood by the Sydney Harbor Bridge to enjoying a sunset by the Great Barrier Reef, I truly think I found the best of the best when it comes to Aussie dining. Each one added their own fun and flavor to my Australian adventure and I definitely look forward to visiting again, even if it means another 17 hour plane ride. I feel incredibly lucky that I was able to travel to Australia, to see and explore, and to feast at these fabulous restaurants.