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Published December 3rd 2021
A seafood experience to savour
Rick Stein seafood restaurant opened its doors at the newly built Bannisters Port Stephens in late 2018. The celebrity chef also has another restaurant at Mollymook on the South Coast of NSW, so that Sydney-siders can escape the city in either direction and appreciate the flavours of the sea. Both towns are well-known for their seafood and can obtain excellent quality, local seafood on a daily basis. According to an interview with Rick Stein for Delicious.com, he chose Port Stephens because "they've got a really good range of fish and obviously they're different to what you find in the south. The eastern rock lobsters, the oysters, flathead, snapper, dory, kingfish – it's almost a case of you name it, the great seafood of Australia is there at different times of the year. So the menu will reflect whatever we get in fresh."
Recently, my husband was fortunate to receive a $250 gift voucher to be spent anywhere at Bannisters, so we went out for a birthday celebration at Rick Stein's with our young daughter. Although she was happy to eat a kids meal Linguine and tried some of our dishes, the two of us relished in the experience - we were in absolute foodie heaven...
Rick Stein's is a fine dining restaurant with a relaxed, holiday feel, so we felt at ease as soon as soon as we walked in the door. The restaurant had wooden floors, high ceilings and a wonderful feeling of space around each table. There were half circle booths down one end of the restaurant, an open bar in the centre and an open kitchen down the other end. The overall effect captured the luxury and quality of the experience to come.
We booked our table online for a 5:30pm sitting in summer, so we had plenty of natural light throughout the restaurant and glimpses of the water between the trees. The staff were friendly and attentive, as we settled into our half circle booth and menus were placed in front of us. Everything looked so good, we didn't know what where to start...
High ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, concrete pillars, central bar and an open kitchen on the other side
The menu had a decadent range of seafood starters and entrees, with fresh local prawns, oysters and pipi's, as well as Hervey Bay scallops and sashimi. We decided to share 6 Hervey Bay scallops and the sashimi plate, so that we could all experience the range of flavours.
The Hervey Bay scallops were a highlight of our whole meal, with a flavoursome creamy butter sauce over the top and the scallops just melted in the mouth. The flavour combination had us speechless, as we looked at each other in pure awe. The sashimi was also presented with chopsticks and we enjoyed the finely-cut sushi slices with soy sauce and some of the condiments on the side. The tuna, in particular, was my personal favourite, although they were all flavoursome and fresh.
It was the perfect way to start the whole Rick Stein experience.
My husband and I aren't regulars on the fine dining scene, so my daughter was fascinated by the waitress topping up our water throughout the meal, the thickness of the napkins and having someone come by and wipe the table for crumbs in between each course. The staff were attentive but also left us to talk, so it was a considered balance of service and space.
We had some time to relax and talk, before our mains arrived in front of us. I chose the Swordfish Curry which came with a separate bowl of basmati rice, mango chutney, a homemade poppadum and a tomato, cucumber and red onion salad. I was impressed with the size of the meal, as there were two pieces of Swordfish and a generous amount of curry ingredients, with visible whole ingredients. The flavour was a fabulous hit to the taste buds and was the perfect combination of heat, spice and texture. Each mouthful was a delight of flavour, as I tried to pinpoint each spice that I was tasting.
My husband had the Trevally, which was more of a simple dish to let the delicate flavour of the fish come through.
Swordfish Curry with rice, mango chutney, poppadum and tomato salad ($42)
After our mains we sat contented for a while, before our curiosity of the dessert menu got the better of us and we had to finish our meal with a decadent dessert, to match the meal. The dessert menu had a good range of sweet options for every palette, as well as a luxury savoury cheese board to finish the meal. As sweet-tooths, we both chose the dark chocolate slice, which had a thick, rich chocolate top to crack into and then inside was a soft chocolate mousse-like texture, with a crispy dark chocolate base. On the side was a drizzle of thick butterscotch sauce which was rich, silky and sinfully sweet. The overall effect in the mouth was divine and finished our whole experience on a high.
We had high expectations when we walked into Rick Stein's and when we left, our experience was even better than what we had anticipated. The gift voucher was a beautiful gift to receive, as it was a family experience that we will all remember for a long time to come. If you are looking for an experience gift voucher for a Christmas present, wedding present or special birthday gift, then give a gift that they will really savour and appreciate.
Our family will be talking about this for years to come...
Dark Chocolate Dessert ($14). Yes, it was as good as it looks!