NICK’S SEAFOOD, in the Cockle Bay Wharf section of Darling Harbour, has just commenced it’s 20th year of operation in one of the most competitive restaurant scenes of Sydney. It is an institution, there is no doubt. Darling Harbour is probably 80% restaurants, Cockle Bay Wharf side is probably 95% restaurants and the Nick’s Group now own six popular restaurants in this tourist heavy waterfront precincts of Sydney. Years and years ago I used to spend a bit of time with one of the family that owns Nick’s and it is with great thanks to that awesome lady I got an invite to visit and review all their venues over the next six months, starting with Nick’s Seafood.
NICK’S SEAFOOD VENUE:
Nick’s is on the water on Cockle Bay Wharf in Darling Harbour, the view is sensational and the restaurant is huge. They can seat hundreds and hundreds of people and on our Monday night visit, of which we arrived at 545pm, by the time it hit 7pm it was getting packed. I repeat, ON A MONDAY NIGHT! Nick’s Seafood is popular among all the tourists staying locally. You can eat a full lobster for about $50- and look over boats and the beautiful Darling Harbour. Every table will offer water views, even if some are glimpses. As the sun sets the lights of Darling Harbour come into their own, it really is something to take in.
THE INSTITUTION THAT IS NICK’S SEAFOOD:
Nick’s is fully licensed and the alcohol menu is suitable for both tourists and Aussie locals. I would happily take my parents to this venue, which speaks volumes. I think it probably lacks in attention from Aussies due to the touristy reputation of the area but before a show, or before taking the parents on another Vivid Cruise this year, I think a big seafood feast is in order. Due to the years of experience from the Nick’s Wholesale Seafood business, I know the seafood in their own venues is going to be the best of their own crop.
The service is very friendly and mostly efficient but take into account they could be serving over 200+ people on any given night so a little leeway is probably required. The staff that served us were incredibly friendly and one of the wait staff, a knowledgable French lass, assisted us in selecting our entire meal. We gave her the dishes we loved, of which there was six mains, and she chose the two that would a) photograph the best and b) that we would love the best, and her selections were flawless.
You do not operate a restaurant in Sydney for 20yrs, that still packs out, unless you know what you are doing! The Nick’s Group reputation in seafood is high, and their skills in running a venue are honed on twenty plus years experience.
From the venue name you probably guessed it is mostly seafood. They do have a chicken, a beef and a couple of vegetarian dishes on offer, they really cater to all but emphasise this place is seafood. Their wild mushroom risotto sounds marvellous and my dining guest, Laarni from @threespoonsfull nearly ordered their chicken breast. One thing I did not realise until writing this review was that they offer a bar menu, a very small menu for you to order and sit up at the bar. And best of all, for the squillionaire boat owners that moor their boats at Cockle Bay or King Street or anywhere in Darling Harbour, they offer a boat menu! You can order a full meal to be prepared for your boat. Now all I need to do is win a lotto over $30MIL and I will order from this menu regularly!
WHAT WE ORDERED:
- Local Baby Octopus – Chargrilled with Roast Cherry Tomato, Basil & Rocket Salad with Balsamic Reduction $24-
- Whole Baby Lobster – Served Mornay, Garlic Butter or Thermidor. (we went the Thermidor) $48-
- Grilled Moreton Bay Bugs – Garlic Buttered with Orange & Fennel Salad With choice of Chips or Salad $68-
- Heavenly Crunch – Chocolate Coated Crunch Tiramisu with Salted Caramel & Hazelnut Crunch Filling served with a Macaron & Snickers Ice Cream $16-
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
We shared an entree, a dessert and had a main each (with sampling benefits of course). The baby octopus is some of the best baby octopus I have had in the last decade. They were actually small, it was a little crispy where it needed to be and it held the flavour perfectly. The plate was huge and as full as I got I continued until they were all gone.
Lobster and Moreton Bay Bugs are two of my favourite things on Planet Earth to eat. It is a rarity to be able to devour an entire lobster and for the size $48- is cheap as chips. I will return for this dish alone. The thermidor was a delicious choice and was the suggested sauce from the waitress. I will work my through them all on subsequent visits. Usually I would pick bugs over lobster but for me the lobster won out this time. The pricing comparison was too large for a similar amount of meat to the lobster and I also think this was the first time I had devoured them from a grill. My fave bugs are local to home and for a less price they offer quite a bit more. A dish I order for my birthday every year.
Now, as for dessert, I was nearly speechless, it was perfection and the presentation was award worthy. I could happily visit on the weekend for a morning tea coffee and a Heavenly Crunch before doing stuff in the CBD, there are worse ways to start your day!
Over the last decade or two I have basically written Nick’s Seafood off as being part of the greater commercial tourist venues of the Darling Harbour District. While this is still mostly accurate, the seafood is fresh and delicious and you don’t operate a venue this large in Darling Harbour, let alone six of them, for twenty years without knowing what you are doing. Nick’s is worth it for the under $50- lobster alone.
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 2/3 food, 1/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 1/1 toilets and 1/1 bonus
Nick’s Seafood Deets:
PH: 02 9264 8686
The Promenade, Cockle Bay Wharf, Sydney NSW 2000
Monday – Thursday
Lunch 1130am – 3pm
Dinner 530pm – 10pm
Friday – Saturday
Lunch 1130am – 3pm
Dinner 530pm – 11pm
Lunch 1130am – 3pm
Dinner 530pm – 10pm
LOCAL DELIVERY: No
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes – small selection
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes – small selection
KID FRIENDLY: Absolutely
*** Spooning Australia was invited to attend this venue and the meal was complimentary ***
For more reviews of Sydney Restaurants – check them out HERE