In Food + Drink

Escape Sydney: The Destination Restaurants Worthy Of A Road Trip

Get your headscarf ready.

Sure, Sydney itself has loads of distinctive dining experiences. Between its secret underground eateries and heaving waterfront restaurants, locals and visitors are without doubt spoilt for choice. But outside of the city, there’s a whole other, often-overlooked collection of places to dine: the destination venues.

Dotting the coastline and scattered inland, they’re the spots that are harder to reach but because of their killer views, unique atmospheres and/or special dishes are each worthy of their respective treks. Among those, these are our favourites. 

The Potager Mount Tomah

The tasting board at The Potager Mount Tomah Photo: Facebook

If a lazy few hours under a vine-canopied terrace set amongst rolling hills sounds like an appealing way to spend an afternoon, head to The Potager Mount Tomah in the Blue Mountains. A 90-minute drive from Sydney, the restaurant – which opened this December – is a sleek indoor-outdoor dining space overlooking botanic gardens and dripping with greenery.

You’ll want to start your journey here early as they only serve breakfast and lunch. For breakfast, wake up with a strong coffee and Eggs Benny on the deck as you take in views of the lush vegetation down below. If you’re arriving at lunchtime, pair a flavour-of-the-day Potager Pie or two-person tasting board with a glass of fruity McLaren Vale rosé.

The Newport

The Newport Photo: Merivale

Sprawled along the shores of Pittwater, The Newport is a a 40-minute car ride from Sydney’s CBD. Formerly the Newport Arms, the iconic Northern Beaches venue was snapped up by Merivale in 2016 and since then, has rolled out a steady re-launch of bars and eateries including The Shack, Vinnie’s Pizza, a seafood market, and its newest – a 1930s brasserie and bar called Bert’s.

Before popping in, have a peek of their free weekly activities schedule so you can potentially plan your visit around a movie screening, yoga class or talent night. Or, if you’re only after a bite to eat, arriving in the late afternoon will allow for a drawn-out early dinner against a picturesque dusk backdrop. When the sun begins to dip behind the boat-speckled river and the dreamy fairy lights overhead kick in, you’ll feel worlds away from bustling city life.

Park House Food & Liquor

Worth the drive. Photo: Park House Food & Liquor

Forty minutes north of Sydney just before Palm Beach, you’ll find Park House Food & Liquor in Mona Vale. The result of a two-year renovation of the Mona Vale Hotel, the recently unveiled entertainment and food hub maintains the same chilled-out vibe the old spot was once known for. There’s a retractable roof for quick cover during summer thunderstorms, a no-frills food truck set-up in the car park, and a relaxed craft beer-and-burgers joint.

For a more substantial feed, head to the just-opened Park House Food Merchants. A buttery slow-cooked lamb here is not to be missed, but if you’re with a group and feeling daring, order a whole suckling pig and they’ll let you carve it at your table.

Scarborough Hotel

Salmon at the Scarborough Hotel Photo: Facebook

The hour-long drive it takes to get to the Scarborough Hotel from Sydney has to be one of the most stunning you can do in the country. Leaving town, you’ll drive through quaint beach suburb Brighton-le-Sands and leafy Royal National Park before reaching the jaw-dropping Illawarra coastline. Perched along it, the historic hotel and beer garden is an institution in the region, and from first glimpse of it, you’ll easily see why.

The venue consists of an old-fashioned, charming pub at the top of a sloping manicured lawn that’s littered with tables and umbrellas and drops dramatically into the sparkling sea. While the menu is your average run-of-the-mill pub food, the cliff views and stress-free environment are exceptional.

South on Albany

Nothing screams South Coast road trip more than a lunch or dinner stop in the quaint country town of Berry. And among the large selection of eateries, South on Albany is one of the best. Lying just off the main strip, the restaurant’s not only a favourite for out-of-towners, but, tellingly, amongst locals too.

Aim to spend an entire afternoon or evening here. Because, while idling over plates of fresh oysters, juicy sirloin steak, or strong-flavoured quail and a bold glass of red from their impressive collection, you’ll be grateful you did. With most everything locally-produced and beautifully-presented, it won’t be hard to understand why residents just can’t get enough of it.

(Lead images: Park House Food & Liquor

Published 12 January, 2018