11 April 2023

Dining on the Far South Coast: Our picks for that more than special experience

| Lisa Herbert
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The Sandbar – classical French technique fused with Japanese flavours. Photo: Lisa Herbert.

This season may be cooler and wetter than most, so why not escape into some stellar dining rooms along our coast to reinvigorate your taste buds?

From Batemans Bay to Pambula, our coastal restaurants present some of the best food in the state, with great wine lists, stunning cocktails and true hospitality. Relax and celebrate for a moment by our sapphire waters.

The Sandbar, Batemans Bay

60 Beach Rd, Batemans Bay


Take your taste buds to The Sandbar, where chef David Tinker and his Japanese wife Tomoyo will lead you on a memorable dining journey.

Tinker grew up in Durras and has worked with the best chefs in the world and Australia. With classic French technique and fusing Japanese flavours and surprising elements, Tinker and Tomoyo’s menu and wine/sake list celebrates their marriage and the Australian coast.

In the restaurant, there is excellent, quiet service, muted colours, and upholstery. As the sky changes colour over the water outside, each course appears before you like a miniature work of art. Multiple layers and elements – from ocean fish to seaweed fronds, classic veloutes to salted nori, cherry blossom and tomato. Jerusalem artichoke, pumpkin skin and cacao, chicken and nashi. Parfaits, Dutch cheese tuille, gelee, surprising desserts and a fabulous list of sake to try.

The Sandbar offers a five-course set menu, which changes at least seasonally. Constantly evolving, the inventive, passionate Tinker has never repeated a dish.

Set five-course menu $139, add pairing wine and sake for $115. Open Wednesday to Saturday from 6 pm.


Dumplings, sweet and sour, char siu pork, cocktails and great service can all be found at Narooma’s Queen Chow. Photo: Lisa Herbert.

Queen Chow (at The Whale), Narooma

102 Wagonga Street, Narooma


To those diners familiar with a previous incarnation of The Whale Restaurant in uptown Narooma, things look familiar on the surface. However, with the arrival of Justin Hemmes’s seriously good hospitality team, the whole vibe of this lovely dining room has ramped up a notch or three. As well, there is now a robust menu of all-star Cantonese dishes and some great cocktails.

Queen Chow is all white tablecloths and chopsticks, that stunning wide view over Wagonga Inlet, bustling, friendly service, an extensive wine list and one of the few opportunities for great Asian food on the South Coast.

From steam baskets of dim sum, salt and pepper squid, oysters, sashimi and a crazy-good whipped tofu with vego XO sauce to childhood favourites of sweet and sour pork, lemon chicken and bejewelled fried rice, with surprising additions such as a black-vinegar braised-beef sang choi bao and of course, the classic Peking duck. With plenty of vegetarian dishes, rice, noodles and desserts, there is a lot to choose from and enough to satisfy many return visits.

Queen Chow is open from 5:30 pm to midnight, Tuesday to Saturday.

restaurant meals

A spectacular array of flavours and textures along a coastal forest road at Mimosa Restaurant. Photo: Lisa Herbert.

Mimosa Restaurant & Winery, Murrah

2845 Tathra-Bermagui Rd, Murrah


On a winding road through the spotted-gum forests of Mimosa National Park, halfway between Bermagui and Tathra, is a large, open dining room built high above the tree line. Mimosa Restaurant has been growing in strength since the reins were handed over to the new generation and German chef Jan Semmelhack joined the team.

The menu, created by head chef Semmelhack, is small but stunning, each dish containing multiple layers of fascinating textures and flavours. The wine list, curated by restaurant manager Aymeric Grand, is well worth exploring by the glass.

Semmelhack’s food stops you in your tracks. Conversations are forgotten while diners exclaim and discuss the morsels on their forks, which might be mussels with torched fennel and a saffron broth, Narooma octopus with hazelnut and XO sauce, kangaroo with tandoori flavours, or a multifaceted duck dish including breast, crunchy croquette, and a sublime pate, adorned with pickled apricot with anis-myrtle leaf.

We highly recommend exploring the dessert menu. Even for those without a sweet tooth, there is much to delight in as you watch the sun travel across the big South Coast sky, or enjoy a candlelit moment under the stars.

Mimosa restaurant is open Thursday to Sunday for lunch and Friday and Saturday for dinner. Open five days a week in peak times. Available for weddings. Book here.

restaurant meals

From antipasti and oysters to spaghetti or Wagyu rump, it feels natural at Merimbula’s hatted Valentina Restaurant. Photo: Lisa Herbert.

Valentina, Merimbula

Upstairs 5, 2 Market Street, Merimbula


As Merimbula’s food scene finally exits the 1980s, one of its current stars is the recently hatted Valentina.

An out-of-the-way stairwell will elevate you to a dining room looking over Merimbula’s oyster-filled lake. The view and the setting are instantly relaxing – calm, Mediterranean, light-filled with great service and exciting wines and cocktails.

From oysters to antipasti and small bites through to larger plates including a sublime Wagyu rump nestled in a rich Cafe de Paris, there is plenty of deliciousness and seafood throughout the menu. Think truffles, squid ink, bresaola, whipped cod roe, anchovy toasts, artichoke, Wagyu tartare, flathead, spaghetti, clams. If choosing is difficult, there are two tasting menu options, so just lean back, relax and enjoy cocktails and wine by the glass.

In only the second year operating, Val’s has become a favourite of the local food scene. Chef Ash Cotter and the front-of-house team, under Di Macdonald and Ryde Pennefather, are thrilled to be awarded a chef’s hat by the SMH Good Food Guide. They’re excited by the future, and so are their customers.

Valentina is closed Monday to Wednesday. Open for lunch and dinner, check website here for hours.

restaurant meals

Banksia Restaurant – an intimate, welcoming and classy dining room in historical Pambula Village. Photo: Lisa Herbert.

Banksia Restaurant, Pambula

22 Quondolo Street, Pambula


Warm and welcoming, the gorgeous, golden dining room of Banksia’s heritage building beckons you. The team behind legendary Merimbula hatted restaurant Zanzibar, chef Huw and hospitality queen Renee Jones, will make you feel as welcome as if you’re entering their home. Which Banksia essentially is.

Huw Jones’s three-course set menu changes weekly and (heads-up) is often fully booked, so get on their mailing list and become a member of the Banksia community.

Huw’s food is beautifully executed, rich, and often nostalgic, or do we mean classic? Think twice-cooked cheese souffles to die for, perhaps a sustainable venison hunter’s pie, perfectly cooked duck, beef, fowl or fish surrounded by deeply flavoured sauces and emulsions and bright seasonal vegetable purees, the crispiest duck-fat potatoes, platters of crisp steamed greens and bitter-leaved salads … all with matched wines from a list carefully curated by wine whisperer Renee.

Dessert will make your heart sing, with its fresh fruit and French flourishes – fine pastries, creme patissiere or meringue – especially if accompanied by a cold Brachetto or some such fragrant fizz. We reiterate, each pairing is a big part of the Banksia experience, so sign up and enjoy the French technique, skill and hospitality of this renowned pair of restaurateurs.

Banksia Restaurant presents a three-course set menu for dinner Wednesday to Saturday, and for lunch on Sunday. Subscribe to the mailing list to receive each week’s menu, here.

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