Eating around Port Macquarie.
Sometimes a road trip is all it takes to breath life back into a tired weary broken soul. That’s what I did in January. It was only a couple of days but early on Thursday morning we set off along the Pacific Highway towards Port Macquarie a 4 1/2 to 5 hour drive from Sydney. The time was certainly not a problem to my sister and I because we usually don’t get nearly enough time to finish a conversation. We thought it maybe a problem for her new puppy though. A road trip with such a small baby could have been a disaster. Little did we know she would be the perfect passenger sleeping all the way there and back in her little spotty bed.
The two of us traveled north to stay with our eldest sister and our two nieces. This really is all the entertainment we require these days, but the lure of food is never too far from all of our minds. Because we had the very young Puppy with us we decided to start training her by leaving her for a couple of hours at a time. Lunches and cafes were the way to go and Port has quite a few to offer these days. Each time we ventured out for a little longer and on our return there was lots of excited squealing from both the Puppy and us.
Rivermark Cafe is on the banks of the Hastings River. There are tourist boats, Pelicans landing with the grace of a Concord and speedboats whizzing by as we sit in a kind of outdoor carport with loose stones underfoot. Saves having to wash the floor I suspect. There are simple tables dotted beneath the awning several with umbrellas to fend off the ferocious sun. There is no table service here, a fact we learn after waiting for quite a while and finally flagging down a wait person. We are swiftly dispatched to order our own meals at the front counter from a menu that reads like a who’s who of the cafe scene. Burgers, wraps, schnitzels, salads and fish and chips. We head straight for the bottom of the menu where there’s a selection of seafood. From here Peppered soft shell Crab, mango, avocado and Asian salad for $27, “The Classic”- Grilled Perch, Calamari, Prawns, fries and salad $23.00. and Grilled Lime Perch, Asian salad with mango and mint salsa.$24. Mango puree seams to feature quite heavily as the salsa. It’s a bit like having a smoothie in your lunch. There is a limited selection of wine by the glass and bottle at reasonable prices. Freshly cooked food, with a nice view but perhaps not straight from the market. They open at 8 and close strictly at 3pm.
Next morning after a bit of a Koala hunt with no luck we make a trip to the beach with the 10 week old Pup . She is so excited by the beach, the expanse of sand and digging, that it is almost cruel to take her back to her little bed while we once again ventured out to lunch.
Bittersweet is very popular with the locals. Its’ a cafe / patisserie. Booking seems to be the only way we can be sure of a table and we are rewarded with a large table in the sunny outside of the cafe. It’s a shopfront in a small group of shops in a suburban corner a few blocks from Lighthouse beach.
I love a menu that offers a good selection of salads and Bittersweet has some beauties along with burgers and sandwiches. The draw card here though I suspect is the counter full of desserts and of course good coffee. The enticing mango and passion fruit smoothie is downed and given the thumbs up but we share it because it is so filling. We devour Beetroot, pumpkin and haloumi salad with candied walnuts, $ 17. A chicken schnitzel burger full of fresh salad and served with fine crispy sweet potato thins, $18. Salt and pepper squid with a red pepper herb and tomato salad offset with the crunch of fried noodles & a light Asian “inspired” dressing, $18. The sweet potato and goat cheese frittata has an extremely generous portion of cheese within and comes with a julienne vegetable salad, housemade chutney and a slab of pan toasted sour dough.
There are so many desserts, but amongst the selection are both baked and raw cheesecakes, chocolate tarts, pavlova rolls and a sticky date pudding served with an unusual whipped caramel icing. If I am to have this 80’s classic though I’d prefer it with the more traditional warm caramel sauce. Desserts from $3-9. Great cafe.
The next most talked about cafe in Port Macquarie is Milk bar. If lines out the door for people waiting on a take away coffee are any indication we are in the right place. The cafe is below The Observatory Hotel at Main Beach, ensuring a steady stream of diners. It’s a walk across a park to get to the water but the outlook is very pleasant and the fresh sea air inviting. Milkbar is small seating only about 15-20 inside with tables on the front walkway adding more seats. There are fridges full of milk and drinks along one wall, a counter with freshly baked cakes and breads and the front counter where you must stand in line with the crowds of coffee drinkers to order. If there is a downside to this cafe, this is it. The menu is short but quality driven. The coffee is a highlight. They aren’t scared to serve ungarnished, fresh ingredients . Scrambled eggs with gorgeous sliced avocado, spinach, and sour dough $12, Baked eggs with basil baked cherry tomatoes and mushrooms with toasted sour dough $12 and House baked bread french toast with strawberries, ricotta, roasted macadamias and maple syrup $12. There are muesli and fruit options and add on sides from $3. Simple quick and perfect.
After our short time Eating around Port Macquarie we have to make the return journey. How sad it is to leave the beach and fresh air of a beachside town and our family.
We pack the car putting the pup on the backseat in her spotty bed and she falls asleep staying that way for the next 4 1/2 hours, fresh air will do that to you.
Looking for Koalas