With piercing blue eyes and a golden tan, Aussie restaurateur Rupert Noffs is a poster boy for the Central Coast’s laid-back lifestyle, just with funkier threads. The clothes come courtesy of the New York lifestyle Noffs and his partner in business and life, chef Matty Bennett, gave up in Manhattan in exchange for a home and restaurant in Hardys Bay.
Moving to be closer to family, Noffs enthuses: “I swim in the ocean every morning,” before adding that he pops down to Sydney or Melbourne whenever he needs a cultural fix.
After a brief stint at Frankie’s Rooftop in Woy Woy, the pair have brought their former Manhattan restaurant back to life on the Bouddhi Peninsula.
With a relaxing, west-facing view of boats bobbing on Brisbane Waters, this pale pink and bottle green, palm-tree painted cottage is set up for sundowners. And, word is, if you happen to visit on Sundays, your cocktails and modern Asian share plates will come with live jazz from singers like the super-talented Shauna Jensen, who has also recently relocated to the Central Coast.
Both the dish list and the drink list are tight and bright affairs. The 2016 Clarence House Chardonnay ($11/glass) offers up grapefruit and buttery caramel before a fresh, dry finish – it’s easily my favourite from the nine-bottle list.
All the wines, including the 2018 Ministry of Clouds Riesling ($13/glass), have clearly been chosen with both the cuisine and price in mind, with only one bottle straying over fifty-five bucks.
I enjoy the limey Riesling against a juicy, wet Smashed Cucumber Salad ($17) where green apple matchsticks and a frothy wave of coconut milk mingle with roasted peanuts, lime, coriander and mint.
Peking Duck Spring Rolls ($22/3) are crisp and tasty against sticky-sweet hoisin.
Along with a bamboo steamer basket of Five Spice Duck Wontons ($22/5), notable for their neatly pleated, thin golden skins, they’re crowd pleasers, designed to appeal widely with the all-ages Central Coast crowd.
Fried Soft Shell Crab ($34) is likely more polarising, with hot red chilli, kaffir lime and flavoursome soft shell crab gentled slightly by fresh green apple and three-flavour caramel. While the fresh produce on this dish is a highlight, many will call it pricy for the serving size.
Dining with a non-chilli eater, we passed over curries in favour of Sichuan Pepper and Salt Silken Tofu ($18) while noting that the kitchen’s mortar and pestle indicates the pastes are house-made. Luckily the tofu is slippery and unctuous, with wonderful mochi-like stretchy skin. It eats very well on the accompanying boiled rice with lime to balance the sweetness of the chilli sauce.
We finish on ‘Barbra’s Bao Buns’ ($25/2). The pillowy soft, floppy steamed buns filled with well-rendered pork hock, hoisin, chilli and fresh coriander are named for songstress, Barbra Streisand, who, I'm told, frequented the New York Lucky Bee.
Streisand said they were "scrumptious"; I tend to agree.
The Lucky Bee
60 Araluen Drive, Hardys Bay
Ph: (02) 4360 1281