"There's plenty of people who want to be out here," our waitperson says, as we apologise for the trouble of relocating our table indoors when the late summer sun made lunchtime dining unpleasantly warm.
Once ensconced in our new digs, we enquire after our wine, missing in action for at least twenty minutes.
When it finally arrives, our super-heated wineglasses struggle to do justice to Gary Mills’ 2014 Jamsheed ‘Harem Le Blanc Plonk’ ($58). They usher this blend of Upper Goulburn and Grampians Riesling quickly past fresh ginger and kaffir lime, and straight towards funkiness and sweet.
Around me, the open-plan restaurant oozes casual coastal luxury, with a slight Mediterranean twist. While staff seem relatively plentiful, we find ourselves topping up our own wine glasses, and, once emptied, our water glasses too.
We wolf our bread with cleverly briny nori butter, and make short work of Oysters ($4/each). They’re not cheaper by the dozen, so we order eight; pairs of each of the four oysters offered on the menu. This gives us a welcome opportunity to compare bivalves from Narooma, Tuross Heads and Ralston Bros. (Clyde River, Batemans Bay) in both a Pacific and a Sydney rock, with Narooma scrubbing up best.
"We've been here one hour and all we've had is oysters," my dining companion gripes. Everything does seem to be taking an inordinately long time. We’ve devoured two bowls of complimentary olives (a perk of moving tables), two slices of free sourdough, and have drunk most of our wine. I resist ordering another bottle. It’s lunchtime, and I refuse to reward what is starting to look like a cynical cash extraction machine.
This impression isn’t helped by an over-salted Lobster Salad ($36) tucking two tiny medallions of lobster inside an architectural hillock of green beans and avocado, topped with a thin slice of seared foie gras.
Scallops Succotash ($26) are served on the shell. We struggle to fairly share the trio of tiny scallops dominated by bright orange roe, served on a fairly uninspiring bed of creamy ham, corn and chives.
After another long wait, the kitchen redeems itself with a pricy but well-cooked Indonesian Seafood Curry ($47). While not the most spectacular fish, the ling is beautifully handled; alongside tender, long tubes of crosshatched squid; and large, slightly sweet, king prawns.
It’s accompanied by rice and an underwhelming green bean and fresh coconut salad, which appears to have switched out most of the promised fresh coconut for bean sprouts. We’re more taken with an additional side of Shoestring Fries ($7) with rosemary. With the beautiful blue water beckoning, we decline the offer of dessert.
NOTE: You can see more of my trip to Ulladulla HERE and other local restaurant reviews HERE and HERE.
Rick Steins at Bannisters
191 Mitchell Parade, Mollymook Beach
Ph: (02) 4455 3044