Rick Stein at Bannisters, Mollymook

3 November 2010
by Phuoc

After a relaxing week escaping to the South Coast, we braved the 6.5 hour drive back home from Merimbula. However, stopping along the way we decided to have lunch at Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant at Bannisters; which worked out to be a very expensive lunch but Ant wanted to check it out (mainly for the seafood platter that was featured on Masterchef Season 2) and it was along the way (it’s not like we’re purposely driving 3 hours from Sydney just to eat here). It was a very nice drive to Bannisters, we had water views ahead and to the side of us.

As we walked into the restaurant I couldn’t help but feel as if we’ve just walked into someone’s beach holiday house. There was a nice lounge area where I’d assume customers can sit as they wait for their tables, a book display with some of Rick Stein’s books featured amongst it, straw-fabric drapes hung from the ceiling to provide a summery feel whilst big glass windows overlooking the patio and the lovey blue waters invites us to feel relaxed as we enjoy our food, wine and company.

Our intention was to just have the seafood platter yet we were advised to order an entree each as it might not be enough food for the two of us. There were many tasty seafood options (which is good and what you’d expect from a seafood restaurant) but in the end we ended up choosing the tuna starter and more oysters.

The seared tuna with guacamole and lemongrass dressing ($24) dish featured perfectly seared pieces of tuna fanned out on the plate with it’s deep ruby flesh glistening and scattered around it is a slightly tangy dressing with lemongrass brunoise. Tuna pieces cut effortlessly like butter and one bite simply melted in the mouth. I really didn’t want to share this dish with Ant. I could easily have and wanted more of it.

Not having had enough oysters in Merimbula (when is it ever enough) we decided to order the oysters Charentaise ($24); an unusual combination of natural oysters served with hot spicy sausage. We were instructed to have an oyster (with or without the eschalot red wine vinegar), take a bite of the sausage and then take a good gulp of cold white wine (if you have a glass of it).

The first thing we noticed was that the flesh wasn’t detached from the shell which meant we had to do it ourselves at the table (which we thought was odd because we attended an oyster tour earlier in the week and was told that this process was necessary to check for the quality of the oyster and for neat presentation). The sausage was quite mild and the oysters were good, some had a decent amount of water in them still. I’m still not quite sure what was trying to be achieved with this combination but it was nice (minus the vinegar).

Finally the moment has arrived. Brought to our table was the fruit de mer ($145); seafood platter served French-style, which apparently means that the seafood is left in the shell, served on ice with mayonnaise and eschalot vinegar.

On this platter we had half a lobster, half a crab, muscles, clams, pipis, octopi, prawns, scallops, oysters and periwinkles. What are periwinkles you may ask? As shown in the above picture, they are another form of mollusks which are very similar in appearance (but tiny) and taste to escargots. There were no sea urchins or that crab dish insight.. Bummer! The seafood was fresh and cooked perfectly retaining some of the sweetness, and having it with the mayonnaise was absolutely fabulous; it was lusciously thick and creamy. So good! I don’t think the eschalot vinegar works with seafood as it red wine based; perhaps a lighter lemon vinaigrette would be the better option or skip on the additional sauce and provide more of that mayonnaise!

We made our way through all the shell items before we moved onto the crab and lobster. I still prefer crab to lobster although it is a pain to get the crab meat out; for us, we were both exhausted towards the end because of all the effort required for the crab. I honestly think that this platter was enough for one person if no entree was ordered as we were left still hungry after it.

Our pact was to go and just have the seafood platter but obviously that was ruined by having entrees but because we weren’t feeling that full we decided to order desserts before we set forth on a 3 hour drive. During our demolition of the seafood platter, I overheard the words hazelnut and chocolate from a lady at the table next to ours and a few moments later, I caught a glimpse of her dessert and declared that I wanted it as well!

The chocolate and hazelnut mousse cake ($16) comes with white chocolate ice cream, fresh raspberry and a raspberry coulis. Alternate layers of chocolate mousse and chocolate and hazelnut cake are stacked up and topped with a tuile. It may look a little heavy but I can tell you it was light and I loved the additional crunch I got from the tuile. The white chocolate ice cream wasn’t too sweet and the coulis wasn’t too tangy; both components complimented the cake without overpowering it.

Ant tends to get the chocolate desserts all the time whenever we eat out, but because I placed dibs on the chocolate mousse cake he had to go for the chocolate fondant ($16) (luckily there was a second chocolate dessert available). It was served with an intense coffee ice cream which worked very well with the fondant which oozed nicely.

Overall, it was a very nice restaurant with delicious seafood, the staff were very friendly and although it was pretty expensive, you are paying for the fantastic view.


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26 Comments

  1. chocolatesuze

    geez that platter looks massive! but lols gotta have desserts i mean, while you’re there right? lol love how the center of that fondant looks as if it’s gonna cave in at any moment!

  2. Anita

    Wow! I’ve wanted to go here for ages. Shame you didnt get sea urchins with your platter. I thought they were part of it. Both desserts look amazing.

  3. isis

    Oh my the food looks amazing!! I think if you purposely drove there it wouldn’t be such a crime. I really want that Oysters Charentaise… One again I’m at work and regretting looking at your blog.

  4. Matthew (Masterchef)

    That fruit de mer looks familiar. I reckon mine looked better! πŸ™‚

    Every time I watch a Rick Stein episode I immediately want to cook seafood, he always uses the freshest possible ingredients. Yummo

  5. Aimee

    I’m sooo jealousss! It looks like a lovely meal well earned πŸ™‚

  6. Vivian - vxdollface

    that platter looks huge! haha im surprised you guys weren’t full from it πŸ™‚ then again, dessert is reserved in a separate stomach!

  7. Anthony

    Matt: I think we were hoping for (or at least I was) something like what you made on Masterchef. This looked about half the size of that monster dish.

  8. Sweet.Petite(LikeMe!).Treats

    While seafood platters allow the sampling of different types of seafood, I too find there never seems to be enough to share especially when served in it’s simplest form.

    Nevertheless, a wonderful way to end the trip!

  9. Sara @ Belly Rumbles

    What an amazing looking seafood platter. I have been wanting to go to Banisters for ages as that part of the South Coast is an old stomping ground for me.

  10. Karen | C&C

    Seafood! Gimme gimme!! πŸ™

  11. Helen (grabyourfork)

    oh what a fantastic meal. i think i would have done the same if i’d spied that chocolate hazelnut tart at another table! the seafood platter looks sensational.

  12. nic@diningwithastud

    Everything looks amazing! I love that you stop in just for the platter then leave having tried half the menu πŸ˜‰ nice work and played like a true foodie haha

  13. angie

    Mmmmm seafood! Closest thing I got to something like this was last weekend at the buffet and Cafe Mix Shangri La – was all oysters, bugs, prawns and blue swimmer crabs though.
    Funny how we always want what someone else is having =D, okay by we I mean me.

    I am sure you would drive 3 hours for food, it’s good food too! =)

  14. mademoiselle dΓ©licieuse

    Love how you’re eyeing off dessert when still having your mains – that’s the true spirit of eating!

  15. Julie

    oh gosh that platter looks small! The tuna looks so delish πŸ™‚

  16. Jacq

    Yum I love seafood! The seafood platter looks impressive and I’m surprised you could still fit in an entree and dessert around it! The chocolate hazelnut tart looks great as well.

  17. FFichiban

    That seafood platter is definitely a sight of beauty and so are those desserts! Yummmm!

  18. Cakelaw

    The fruit de mer is magnificent!

  19. Ellie (Almost Bourdain)

    I have always wanted to visit this place but can’t get. Too far the drive for my back. Love Rick Stein!! Great post, Phuoc. The food lives up to the expectation.

  20. Phuoc

    Chocolatesuze: Totally! Always room for dessert no matter how full you are. That’s why there is a dessert stomach πŸ˜€

    Anita: We thought so too, too bad.. I was surprised there were two choccie desserts, normally restaurants would have just one. This way, we both were satisfied.

    Isis: I’m sure there are people who would drive 3 hours just to try it but I don’t think I would, we were lucky to be passing by.

    Matthew: I think yours did look pretty good, good work! That challenge was a monster!

    Aimee: Yeah it was pretty nice but damn, most expensive lunch ever (besides Tetsuya)!

    Vivian: Well it wasn’t really a big platter and we were expecting more (especially after its appearance on Masterchef).

    SPT: It was a lovely way to end our trip, wished we were able to stay in luxury at the Bannisters complex. It looks absolutely marvelous! If only money grew on trees…

    Sara: Do check it out when you get the chance, the South Coast is a nice, relaxing place to be – fantastic getaway from the hussle and bustle that is the urban city.

    Karen: Fresh, local seafood at its best!

    Helen: I couldn’t help it, we were seated pretty much next to one another and because we weren’t that full, I thought might as well know what I’ll be having for desserts πŸ˜€

    Nic: HAHA I know hey?! Oh well… We were only there once and it’s for research purposes too πŸ˜›

    Angie: It was good but I don’t think I’ll purposely drive all the way down just for a platter knowing I can probably get something similar nearby.

    Mademoiselle dΓ©licieuse: As painful as it may be, I’m afraid it has to be done.. πŸ˜›

    Julie: It wasn’t extremely small but it would have been enough for one greedy person.

    Jacq: It wasn’t hard to fit it all in, I think we were content with the food we had and not busting at the seams.

    FFichiban: I wouldn’t mind having some more of that chocolate and hazelnut mousse cake now..

    Cakelaw: Agreed πŸ˜€

    Ellie: Thanks Ellie! I hope your back gets better so you can go out to wonderful places and indulge without having to worry about it.

  21. Gianna@TheEmptyFridge

    Welcome back! This place is on my wishlist! Thanks for sharing – im fruit de mer-ing vicariously through you!

  22. Phuoc

    Thanks, it’s never good to be back from a relaxing holiday…

  23. Trissa

    Thanks for the review! I’ve been meaning to go here as well after watching masterchef – I guess it is pricey but for a special occasion should be fine…

  24. Phuoc

    Not a problem! Ant wants to try the seafood platter at Wheeler’s (Merimbula) as it is the same price – we’ll just have to see next time we go back down there…

  25. chopinandmysaucepan

    We had dinner there too and whilst the food and service was great, we thought it was quite expensive too. I guess the name Rick Stein and being set in a seaside location commands the premium. Best of all, he is not even the chef there πŸ™‚

  26. Phuoc

    Chopinandmysaucepan: I feel that it’s always the case with celebrity-associated restaurants that we tend to pay too much to dine there. And you’re right, name + location = $$$ πŸ™

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