When I told my friends I would be spending some time in Bathurst, the only activity suggestion that most could offer was to drive around Mt Panorama, a past-time that my other half took to with great excitement. Although the view from the top of the race-track was exceptional (and recommended), I went in search of something else to do in my preferred past-time of eating. Below are my collated top 5 food experiences in Bathurst.
1. Creme Brûlée Tart from Legall Situated on Keppel street, Legall is the place to go for your morning pastry fix (specifically morning because they are usually sold out by lunchtime). They open at 9am on a Saturday, and there are those of us who may have been guilty of loitering outside at 8:55am in anticipation. The cafe itself is a quaint, light-filled french style cafe with ample sitting room to enjoy a coffee with your croissant. I am told the coffee is not bad, but the true connoisseurs can get their pastry treats take-away and grab a coffee from The Hub Cafe next door. Although all of the offerings available are excellent, I cannot go past the Creme Brûlée tart which is the perfect combination of back-of-spoon-cracking caramelised sugar and not-too-sweet custard filling. In my opinion, this little pastry is good enough to rival any in Sydney I have tasted, or (dare I say) even France. But why take my word for it when you can try for yourself?
2. Sofala Gold from Annie's Although I am not of an age to have experienced the "good old days" when ice cream parlours were the norm, Annie's the is type of place that transports me to what I imagine it would have been like. The overwhelming pink decor both inside and out is not something you can miss while travelling down George St and it is situated close to a number of restaurants (see below) making it a convenient dessert pit-stop. The flavour options are multiple and the servings are generous (do not make the mistake of getting anything other than a small unless you have help). The signature favour Sofala Gold - named for a nearby gold rush town - is a drool-worthy vanilla ice-cream dispersed with chunks of real honeycomb. Eat it from a cup, a cone or put some in a take-home tub - because you will probably want more.
3. Pizza and Cocktails in a Church You may have noticed from this list so far that I may have a little bit of a sweet tooth, but fear not savoury-lovers as these next few are for you. Church Bar + Woodfired Pizza is located on a little side street called Ribbon Gang Lane which in my mind (although most likely grossly exaggerated) felt like the type of alleyway one might be taken by less-than-upstanding character to be murdered. I have since found out the street marks the site of the largest public hanging in Bathurst, which has not helped. However, don't let that deter you from a visit, as the wood-fired pizza is shareable and creative. Toppings including saltwater crocodile, kransky sausage and lamb shanks (and in our modern age of dietary modifications there are vegetarian and gluten-free options to boot!). If you visit in a summer month, I would recommend the outdoor courtyard seating to enjoy the last rays of sunshine with a cocktail in hand.
4. Homemade Hotsauce from Tommy's
Okay, if you thought the last restaurant entrance was unusual then you are in for a treat - to get to this next restaurant you need to walk through the better part of a 1980s shopping centre and upstairs to be greeted by a slightly gothic/horror-themed rollercoaster decor. This is not a restaurant for the fainthearted and by fainthearted I mean those who don't like spicy food. However, if you're up for the challenge, the owner makes a homemade hot sauce that burns going in and… I'll refrain from the obligatory toilet humour. If you go on a Tuesday Tacos are $3 which you can wash down with a $5 beer, or alternatively share a jug of sangria (which is what we did). We mixed up our tacos with a selection of small eats, including the cheeky fries which are a heart-attack inducing amalgam of cheese sauce and fries.
5. Stuff yourself with Potato at Jack Duggans
Jack Duggans was the first meal I ever had in Bathurst and to me, it will be memorable as the place with the most potato I have seen in my entire life (I couldn't look at one in the same way for weeks). This place is the heart of comfort food and most dishes come with a side of potato. This should not stop you from ordering the cheese garlic chips which are delicious, but if you happen to order a side of curry chips to go with that (like some of us made the error of doing) you will have gone one step too far. Other good and classic dishes include the steak & Guinness pot pie, Ma's Irish lamb stew and the bangers and mash. It would seem remiss of me to mention an Irish bar without mentioning the alcoholic beverages on hand and I am sure there were there, but the truth of it is I can't remember much beyond the post-prandial haze following the load of endless carbohydrates.